World of Warcraft:
Hunter Class

By Shamus
on Jul 4, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

Lots of people have this impression of MMO games – not entirely undeserved – that the gameplay is an unbroken stream of monotony. You walk up to a monster an click the attack button until it falls over. Continue to do this until the “level up” gauge fills, at which point you go find a new, slightly different monster and continue doing the same thing.

I alluded to some of the depth of WoW gameplay in an earlier post, but let me go over one of the character classes in WoW and talk about how this really works:

Having played several characters now, I will say that the Hunter character class is the easiest and most solo-friendly class in the game by far. It’s also one of the most maligned classes in the game. The fact that the class is so forgiving means that you can play very poorly and without any understanding of how the thing works and still do okay for yourself. That is, a skilled Mage and a clueless hunter are about even in terms of their ability to bring down monsters and complete quests. “Huntard” is the insult used on people like this.

The main feature of the Hunter class is the pet, which is an animal captured from among the various monsters of the gameworld and which fights alongside the Hunter. Tigers, wolves, and bears are all popular choices. I’ve also briefly had spiders and owls, although I was never really very attached to either one. You can only have one pet with you at a time, although you can trade off between a few pets while in town if you can afford the stable fee.

Your pet levels with you and learns new skills the longer you have it. You feed it to build up loyalty, which leads to earning “training points”, which can be used to teach your pet new abilities.

The classic Huntard is one which sends in their pet to fight and then either stands back and watches or gets in there and fights beside the pet. This is a very inefficient way to play, although like I said – the class is strong enough that you can get away with this.

The trick with pets is that they have a large pool of hitpoints and high armor, but they don’t dish out much damage. The Hunter himself can deal huge damage (with his bow or gun) but is fairly fragile and can’t do much harm when it comes to direct melee combat.

Monsters tend to attack whoever hits the hardest, going after the most serious threat. So the usual Huntard battle has the Hunter send in his pet. He then dings the monster with an arrow, which will do some good damage and really piss it off. At this point the monster stops fighting the pet and runs up to the Hunter. Their lethal ranged weapon is going unused, and their pet is barely contributing to the battle. The Hunter, with his modest hitpoints and leather armor, needs to stick to foes that aren’t going to rip him apart. This means fighting things at his own level or lower, for the most part. Fighting two monsters at once is probably going to be fatal. The hunter is also going to spend a lot of time sitting and resting between fights to recover from their wounds.

But the Hunter has a large selection of special abilities, and if used properly the hunter becomes a tireless and unstoppable killing machine that can cut through foes several levels above him, take on multiple foes at once, and keep fighting for an extended period of time without the need for rest.

The most fundamental thing a Hunter needs to do is teach their pet the “Growl” ability. When the pet growls, it agitates the monster they’re fighting and makes it concentrate on the pet, despite the fact that most of the damage is coming from the hunter and not the pet.

Mini rant:

Sadly, the game doesn’t really explain this to the player.

It explains capturing a new pet in irritatingly exhaustive detail. (The quest to get your pet is the ultimate in beating a dead horse. You will get the idea long before your trainer stops sending you to the ends of the earth to capture yet another different sort of animal.) But then the game doesn’t say a thing about growl, which is tragic because that’s the major problem with the so-called “huntards”. They’re people who didn’t have anyone to explain to them how to set up the pet training or what skills they need to focus on. The buttons to do this are not obvious, and are added to your general skill tabs without you noticing. If it wasn’t for Shawn explaining things to me, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing wrong. And because the class is so strong, I wouldn’t have known I was doing anything wrong. There’s nothing stupid about the “huntards”. They’re just players who were not adequately taught by the game how to use their class.

And hey, while we’re ranting about pet training in this game…

Once you acquire a pet, you must drag it to a major city to talk to a trainer who can teach you how to feed it, which is a required step in training the thing. My chosen pet was a bear. Yes, I had to go to a city, and have an “expert” teach me how to feed a bear.

Feeding bears does not require training. The thing that requires training is not feeding bears. When you go into the woods people will often stop and teach you how to not inadvertently feed your provisions or yourself to a bear. The idea that you need to seek out expert training to figure out how to get a bear to eat food is beyond preposterous. Almost as bad as needing to be level 55 to eat a cherry pie. But I digress…

So, by level 20 the Hunter will have a number of skills in his arsenal. These are skills which are used with a bow / gun and which allow the hunter to control a battle. Here are a few I use frequently:

  • Concussive Shot: This will slow down an enemy for a few seconds.
  • Arcane shot: This does a nice chunk of damage, usually quite a bit more than a regular shot.
  • Serpent Sting: Poisons your arrow (or bullet) to deliver a huge damage payload. The drawback is that this damage is done over time. (Known as DoT to regular MMO players.) Therefore it’s pointless to use this near the end of a fight, or when you’re trying to draw a monster to yourself.

Note that for these abilities there are cooldown times (usually several seconds) and energy costs. You can’t just hammer away at Arcane Shot until your foe drops. These special shots are tools, which must be used carefully and at the right time.

So the Hunter gameplay is centered around managing “aggro”. You want monsters to attack your pet while you tear them apart with your weapon. You want to do lots of damage, but only when doing do isn’t going to draw your foe away from your pet.

In the most simple fight against a single enemy, you’ll send in the pet and wait until it bites your foe. The foe then turns and attacks the pet. The temptation at this point is to blast it with everything you’ve got, but if you hit it too hard it will disengage from the pet and come after you. Suddenly you’ll have this monster in your face. Your ranged weapon will be useless, and your combat options will be reduced to: 1) Run 2) Wait (hope) for the foe to go back to fighting your pet.

So you open up the fight with Serpent Sting. This actually has a greater damage output than Arcane Shot anyway, although it takes a while and you don’t get the visceral thrill of watching his health meter take a huge hit. After peppering him with a couple of regular shots you can hit him with an Arcane Shot. By this time he should be fairly focused on the pet, but there is always a chance he’ll break off.

If the monster disengages from the pet and makes a move towards you, hit him with the concussive shot. This will slow it down, allow you to back away, and give your pet a few free bites on his butt. If the foe is nearly down you might just keep hammering and try to finish the job, but if he’s got a ways to go then it’s better to hold your fire until he decides your pet is the bigger problem again.

When you’re fighting foes near your own level, you and your pet can remain in almost continual hunting mode. As a foe drops, you send your pet at the next one while looting the body you just killed. Once that’s done you join the fight yourself and finish him off. Rinse repeat. You can keep moving, keep fighting, keep looting, without the need for downtime or rest. I haven’t found another class in the game capable of chewing through foes at this speed. (Note that I haven’t tried them all.)

But sometimes you’ll want to draw a foe away from a group. (In MMO-speak, this is called “pulling”.) If there is a village of Gnolls, the last thing you want to do is send your pet into the village to attack one of them. The ruckus will draw other Gnolls and it will eventually be your pet vs. the village, which will quickly turn into you vs. the village, which will earn you an expedited trip to the graveyard.

So instead of sending in your pet, you just ding one member of the tribe with a normal shot. Showing the kind of stupidity we’ve come to rely on in an MMO, he’ll run out after you, away from the village. When he’s where you want him, you ding him with a concussive shot and send in your pet.

When you’re facing a formidable foe, something well above you in level, you have to change your tactics a bit. Higher level monsters tend to be resistant to Growl, and will rush you in a heartbeat. The temptation when fighting a powerful foe is to give him both barrels, and try to bring him down fast, but the key is to do less damage so he stays focused on the pet. Keep a careful eye on Serpent Sting, and make sure to use it the instant it becomes available again. That will doing doing a lot of “slow” damage that will wear him down without drawing his ire. If you’re feeling brave you can pelt him with the occasional Arcane Shot, but know that this gets risky. You should probably avoid using Concussive Shot in these fights. If you do, it will be on cooldown and might not be available in an emergency. If you’re tangling with a foe four or five levels of you, it’s crucial to keep him at a distance. If he engages you directly you’re probably not going to live long, so it’s probably best to save CS for when he breaks off and rushes you. You’ll also want to save it for when it looks like your pet is going to die. If your pet is in trouble it’s time to nail the enemy with a concussive shot and run. Use your pet’s last few seconds of life to put some distance between yourself and that behemoth you foolishly pissed off. You can bring your pet back to life once you get away.

This is not a definitive guide to the Hunter. I didn’t mention all of the skills and I didn’t even touch on the different things you can teach your pet. I just wanted to show what WoW is deeper than the dull grind some people expect. I predict that in the comments things will get even deeper as people post their own strategies and views on how to wield the Hunter. If I’m very lucky someone will explain the finer points of the Hunter’s Mark ability.

Whatever it’s flaws, this game is not a mindless clickfest.

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  1. Freykin says:

    If I remember correctly, Hunter’s Mark raises the ranged damage that is done to the monster affected by it.

  2. Nova says:

    Damnit, now I feel like an idiot >___<;;;

    Quite deservedly so.

  3. Eric Rossing says:

    My favorite hunter pet is the boar — the Charge power expedites the hunter sweep you mentioned above.

    The first time I played a hunter, my pet nearly starved to death, even after I’d been taught how to feed the ravenous dinosaur, because I didn’t know where to find the “Feed Pet” ability. Took a while begging in General chat before someone bothered to explain.

    One last point about playing a hunter — keep your ammo pouch/quiver full!. The first thing to do whenever you pass by any settlement is to find the General Goods vendor and restock on ammo. Few things suck more than to be a hunter without ammo in the middle of a quest run, especially if you’re in a group.

  4. Sarah says:

    The point of the tedious pet-taming quests isn’t to teach you how to tame a pet, I think.

    It’s to let you know what pets are available to be tamed in your beginner zone. I can only suppose it’s an attempt for diversity, as most high-level hunters devolve into the ever-popular “Oh, ANOTHER elf with a cat…how original”

    As for pets, it used to be that some were better than others, but after a few patches, they’re all the same aside from basic species and aesthetic differences.

    http://petopia.brashendeavors.net/html/browse/gallery_all.php

    That’s a visual guide to all the pets you can get, it was loads of help when I went about choosing my final pet.

  5. Nick says:

    The Hunter’s mark, when applied to a creature, raises the attack power of any other person using ranged attacks.

    The damage your weapon deals is based on the damage range (eg 5-11 dmg) your weapon deals, plus (thanks to some wierd math) increased by your attack power. your AP, when you mouse over it, shows how much more DPS (damage per second) you deal with your weapons. I belive that the dps increase can be multiplied by your weapon’s speed to find out just how much more damage your attack will do.

    I generally don’t apply the hunter’s mark. That’s one more click I have to do before combat, and it’s mana can be applied to your other abilities more. On long fights or bosses, yeah, I’ll hunter’s mark.

    Ooh, one final note, there’s a mini meta game when it comes to pet attacks. You know, abilities such as growl and bite? Those don’t scale with your pet’s levels. Instead, you will have to hunt down and tame pets with the next rank of that ability, have him use the ability a few times until you “learn” it, then you can teach it to your preferred pet, assuming it can bite.

    You may already know that, but it took me until about 20 or so before I realized rank 1 bite sucked, and found out how to get more abilities.

  6. Shalkis says:

    The Hunter is an example of the “easy to learn, hard to master” type of learning curve that Blizzard aspires to. You can do okay as a “huntard”, but if you do some research, you can do some amazing stuff with Misdirect, Feign Death, trapping and kiting. You can even kill some monsters that usually would take a whole five-man group to kill.

  7. Shamus says:

    Nick: Thanks. That’s how I’ve been using it, as a bonus when fighting a strong foe or something a few levels above me. If I’m going to shoot it many times I’ll mark it, but otherwise I save the mojo juice for the other ability.

  8. Kevin says:

    Yeah, Hunter’s Mark simply raises your ranged damage a bit.

    Different pets are capable of learning different skills. Cats learn to Stealth, (go invisible) thunderhawks breath lightning, scorpions have poison, warp chasers teleport, and so on. One neat aspect is that you can stable your current pet, take one of these other types as a temporary pet, and learn their tricks yourself. You then have theses available to you to teach your regular pet.

    Pet types are important though because not all pets can learn all tricks. A bear will never have have a poison sting, for example.

    All of them however, can learn Growl…

    (Edit: Oh yeah, and you’re gonna LOVE Feign Death and Heal Pet.)

  9. Guile says:

    Speaking of hunter aggro-managing abilities, I don’t recall when you receive them (the lowbie levels were a long tim ago for me), but the hunter excels here, too.

    Distracting Shot for if you want to draw it off a party member who’s near death. Disengage lowers the threat of a mob beating on you and tries to send it back to the pet. Feign Death is your bread and butter, and drops all your aggro in an instant: the beasties immediately forget you exist and wander back to your pet, congratulating themselves on killing another PC (barring it being resisted, which is more likely the more enemies you have beating on you: each one gets their own ‘resist’ chance and one noticing you’re just playing dead results in all of them keep attacking you).

    Is it obvious that I like hunters?

  10. Alrenous says:

    The other pet class, warlocks, can kick similar ass. As a bonus, they have an even wider range of possible strategies.

  11. Karl says:

    BTW, since you mentioned it, Warriors are also good at ploughing through mobs without a break. This is because instead of mana they use rage, which increases as the Warrior deals and takes damage, and dissipates over time when out of combat. It’s quite common to end a fight with rage stored up, which not only allows you to move straight on to another fight, but actually encourages it as you can get a couple of skills off right away. It’s quite fun getting one of these rage rampages on, as I recall :)

    Warriors are however still not as solo-able as Hunters, and can get into trouble if they get too gung-ho. This also means that you tend to run into Warriors in dungeons who play as if they’re still solo, charging off ahead and pulling all kinds of Elite scaries without any apparent inkling that when the Priest’s mana bar is empty this is not a good idea. I think this mostly applies to early dungeons, mind, where new players often don’t realise that dungeons require a different playstyle than soloing. (I remember a Rogue in Deadmines once insisting that we all let him go in first and pickpocket everything. Doesn’t really work.)

  12. Hunters Mark as explained above adds Ranged Attack Power to any ranged attack directed at that mob. This includes not only your own, but other hunters shots, and even wands wielded by casters. I’m not sure about lower levels, but at higher levels for sure, the amount of RAP it adds increases with every hit up to a point.

    Hunters Mark has a few other benefits that go unnoticed most of the time. When marked, that mob will show up not only on your mini map, but also your groups mini map. Also, if you see a mob that is stealthed, or hidden, you can mark that mob to make it visible to the rest of your party. Having the mark applied makes it harder for the mob to hide. Good to know against rogues in PvP.

    There is a talent in the Marksman tree called Improved Hunters Mark, which allows the RAP bonus to also be applied to Melee AP. Alone this means your pet will be doing more damage. In groups this means even more people can take advantage of the mark, including the tank who will generate more aggro when he does more damage.

    For more resources concerning hunters, I would recommend petopia as linked above. But also look up Big Red Kitty. This is a blog done by the player of a dwarf hunter who is adamantly Beastmaster and has done a great deal toward making it the acceptable raid spec that it now is. He’s full of useful information, so even Marksmen and Survivalists will have something to learn there.

    Stuff to look up for the betterment of your hunter skill: shot rotations, trapping, chain trapping, and kiting. Who says you need a pet to take down a level 70 Elite?

  13. Stephen says:

    Unless it’s changed significantly since I last played a year ago, Hunter’s Mark is a much better investment of your mana than Serpent Sting. Particularly if you take the Improved Hunters Mark talent so it also adds to your pet’s damage, the Attack Power buff over the course of a fight greatly increases your total damage: every shot does just a little bit more. Additionally, HM can be applied before you attack without pulling aggro, so you can regen the mana used to cast it before the fight even starts.

    Meanwhile, Serpent Sting is a decent DoT attack, but its mana to damage ratio is higher than most other attacks. So even though it does more damage per application than Arcane Shot, Arcane Shot does more damage per point of mana spent. This is important if you frequently find yourself having to rest/drink between fights to regain mana: if you stop using Serpent Sting you may find your stamina going from easy mob to easy mob greatly increasing. Serpent is most useful on mobs that are tough fights for you.

    One of the core competencies for a hunter that you didn’t mention is the power of kiting. Hunters with adequate space to run can take on monsters way too tough for them by turning off Growl, doing enough damage to get the monster to chase you, letting your pet nip at its heels, and periodically launching a shot to keep it focused on you while you run it in circles. You get really good at this when you master the jump shot: since you don’t change direction or speed in midair, even if you turn, if you time it right you can run, jump, twist 180 degrees, fire off an arcane or distracting shot, then twist back and hit the ground running in the same direction.

  14. Shawn says:

    Here’s a macro I use on almost all of my hunters:

    /petattack
    /cast hunter’s mark
    /charge

    (To create a Macro, hit ESC, click new, make an icon, then paste the above in to the box.)

    This will cast hunter’s mark, send your pet in, an have you yell “For Elune!” or whatever. You can leave that last line out if it gets annoying. I tend to put this Macro somewhere obvious, like #2 on the toolbar, and start off most every fight with it.

  15. Shawn says:

    My first WoW character was a Tauren Hunter, and I never trained my pet ever. No Growl, no Improved Stamina, no Claw, nothing! I totally missed that “Here’s your train pet button” bit after the level 10 quest. I also never used the AH house ever, and was for some reason always broke.

  16. Cadrys says:

    Solo Hunters also need to make use of Freeze Traps–one is an outright freeze, the other creates a large area that slows the mob without impacting you or your pet. The typical order of my solo pull went Mark | Pet Attack | Lay Trap | Aimed Shot

    You’re not in combat before you start laying the trap, and by the time the aimed shot goes off, the pet has the mobs attention. Maximum rank Growl meant my bear would only lose aggro on an (early) critical hit–and it plows straight into the trap, allowing (1) the pet to catch up and growl again and (2) you to run back out of melee range again.

  17. Glavar says:

    I was going to comment on the macro but Shawn beat me to it while I was typing.

  18. Dys says:

    I never use hunter’s mark while solo. It just kills your mana. But then I never use stings either, same reason. Usually I’ll either afk-autoshot things or, if they’re dangerous, steady shot between to get it down quick. That’s at 70 though, you won’t need to know about ss for a while. Easy to learn, hard to master is right. Some of the most skilled players I know are hunters, takes a lot of time and effort to truly master the class.

    To address the point of your rant there, many aspects of Wow are unexplained. Blizzard adamantly refuse to issue any kind of info on the threat system for example. But it can all be worked out from scratch by a smart, observant player. Whether the need to do so is a strength or a weakness of the game, I think is probably a matter of personal preference. I’m the kind of person who will never open the manual until I complete the game. Far more satisfying to work things out alone.

  19. Psychoceramics says:

    Just to nitpick, you don’t have to go back to town to learn how to feed your new bear. You know how to feed a bear, it’s the same as feeding anything else. Use Feed Pet and then click on a food item it’ll eat.

    The only thing you have to go back to a city for is new skills when you level, the stable master for swapping, and retraining your pet.

    Also, the class doesn’t come unto it’s own until 62, when it gets Steady Shot. The most vital ability in the hunter arsenal. Why we get it at 62 when everyone else gets vital abilities much sooner is beyond me. The ‘Its a BC ability’ is a crap excuse. So are the pally abilities Righteous Defense and Spiritual Attunement and they get those before level 20.

    But yeah, I’ve taught many people how to train their pets. It’s pretty obvious when they don’t know, because they end up tanking everything. This goes back to blizzard not explaining anything. Priests have a quest to go heal and buff some guy. They learn early on they can heal and buff OTHER PEOPLE. Hunters have nothing but the pet quest, which leaves you stranded on 1) pet training, 2) shot rotations (high-end hunter stuff, vital for dps), 3) effective CC (Freeze Trap is much harder to use than Sheep). These things are as involved or more so than other classes, leading to far more hunters being bad at them, and the stigma.

    Unfortunately, you’ll find that at about level40, your pet isn’t the aggro champ he used to be. I hope they fix this in the expansion, but we’ll see. They just nerfed pet’s aggro generation for no apparent reason.

  20. Duffy says:

    One thing about the hunter’s somewhat strange series of “teaching quests” and the almost haphazard manner in which pet skills were added probably has something to do with hunter’s being the last class implemented. There were numerous issues with the class, however even at release when I started mine, it was still easy to play.

    They did fix a lot the past issues with hunters and the only real leftovers are the necessity of shot rotations and the pet training system, both of which are getting somewhat overhauled in the next expansion. (Pets are getting talent trees and they are disengaging our bread and butter raid shot from clipping the auto shot cooldown.)

    And yes I’ve been playing a Hunter for almost 4 years now..and I’m only starting to get a warrior into the mid 60s, so you could say I’ve really been enjoying my initial class choice.

  21. Fenix says:

    Here’s a good video that gives a brief overview of the classes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4TyqYsC26g&feature=related

    Note: it’s funny and is a music video

  22. unconvention says:

    Hunter grinding (for money or XP) needs no downtime. If you use no mana skills other than heal pet, you need never stop, except when you screw up a pull, and even then you have plentiful mana to save your hide.

    @Cadrys, Personally I never use traps; way too mana hungry!

  23. HeatherRae says:

    There is a spell that you get fairly early on – I think in the 20s or so – that lets you target a potential pet and find out a) what abilities it can teach you if you tame it, b) what kinds of food it likes to eat, and c) whether it’s tamable at all (not all beasts are). It tells you several other things, but those are the most important three.

    I have taken on foes up to six levels above me without much difficulty. It can be done if you’re careful and you stand well away. Also, like others have said, that Hunters Mark is invaluable. Once you get Improved Hunters Mark, it makes it much easier to handle things that aggro on you because you just took out half their health bar with one shot. :-D

  24. Skelnik says:

    A true Huntard keeps Aspect of the Pack on when his group is ready to fight mobs. :)

  25. Devon says:

    I don’t play WoW, but these tactical analyses are good reading. Thank you!

  26. Belzi.ET says:

    It’s very amusing to read the experiences of a new upcoming hunter.
    My first character was a dwarf hunter and it’s still my main character. I just love the abilities and various options the class has.
    For you, Shamus, in a few levels you should be able to learn a new and very handy skill. It’s called “Feign Death” and tries to trick your foe. If you successfully feigned death all your generated threat will be wiped away.

    Another great skill you should have already learned is the “Freezing Trap”. When you know you’ll be fighting two foes you may want to take one out of combat for a few secons.
    Freezing Trap will do this for you and places the next approaching enemy into an ice block for X seconds.

    On another note I think your comment about “learn how to feed a bear” was a little harsh.
    If you know that your pet may become hungry, it’s obvious that you may/must feed it. But for a new player in the World of Warcraft it may not be clear to pay attention to his pet like this. In fact, there are other classes with pets (i.e warlocks with their demons) that don’t need to feed their pets, but for a hunter it is a very important aspect of the game.

  27. Shamus says:

    Psycho: No, trust me. The feed pet button did not exist until I went to the big city. Believe me, I WANTED to keep playing, but no. I had to make the trip if I wanted my pet to be useful.

  28. Patrick says:

    One minor note: Concussive Shot adds a lot of aggro. It’s handy early in the game, but later on be more careful with it. Only use it if you think killing rhe monster now with the extra damage you’ll do before it gets to you is worth it.

    I have to say, as well, that in fact Huntard and Party-tard issues were why I eventually stopped playing. I don’t consider myself very experienced, yet I routinely had a far better survival rate in dungeons than people who were supposedly dungeoneering veterans. Why? because I paid attention. Sure, sometimes I made mistakes. But people tended to blame me as the Huntard when I bloody well knew how to play and frequently did more damage than the DPS classes, as well as distracting.

  29. Sarek says:

    You probably just didn’t train the Hunter Ability “Feed Pet” or maybe it wasn’t available until you hit the level to capture your pet. As some people said, it is better to not use Scorpid once you will be higher up in level since it costs too much mana and it will slow you down when you need to drink mana later on.

    Concussion shot doesn’t create any threat so you can use it safely. http://www.wowwiki.com/Threat

    Arcane Shot and Multi-shot are pretty good tools you have to do massive damage without wasting too much mana.

    What talent tree are you shooting far? To solo, the beast mastery tree is by far the best, but you can still do it in the other trees. The Beast Mastery will make your pet become a power house and it will do a lot of damage. If you prefer to do the damage yourself, go for the Marksmanship tree and if you want more utility powers you should go for the survival tree.

    I could probably find you a good guide, but I’m pretty sure you can find one yourself hehe.

    p.s.: Yes I’m one of those people that spend too much time playing or talking about WoW :P

  30. Psychoceramics says:

    Shamus:
    It had nothing to do with taming a new pet. Now that you have it, you can go tame something else and you won’t have to return to the city to learn how to feed it.

    You do have to make the trip for Beast Training though. By level 10, you should be about ready to move on to the next zone though, which involves a trip through Darnassus.

  31. Hal says:

    Re: Shamus’s mini-rant

    I don’t play WoW, so this shall be my only meaningful contribution:

    http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=215

  32. Shawn says:

    No, the Hunter train your pet quest has two final parts. In the first, the guy in your starting village teaches you to tame your own pet (finally) and then sends you to the Pet Trainer in the city, where you learn Feed Pet and Train Pet. It kind of makes sense, because otherwise I’m sure there would be players who had no idea there was a Pet Trainer. But it is annoying that you have this cool wolf and have to run to Ironforge (or wherever) before you can feed it the first time.

    Shamus is right. I leveled two baby Hunters recently. It’s dumb.

  33. Karl says:

    Shamus didn’t say it was necessary to learn to feed each new pet, did he? I gather he was talking about the first time the skill needs to be learned, and the absurdity that arises since his first pet happened to be a bear.

  34. Tryss says:

    also, everyone in your party can see the hunter’s mark.. you can use it to mark which one who will get pulled first, so everyone’s on the same page and planning regards to large groups can occur..

    “So I’m going to pull and hold the one with the arrow.. You go get the big one, and he can go get the caster”

  35. Flying Dutchman says:

    The few levels I played, I was a Troll Hunter with a Bat in the Undead region (The Undercity). I think I was pretty original. Good thing about the bat is that terrain doesn’t stop it anyways, it just flies… Bad thing is that it was noisy! Flap-flap…

  36. LazerFX says:

    Wait until you get into group battles, where you’re going to be one of the main DPS-ers in the group, the warrior is cursing you out for accidentally aggro-ing the main mob and everyone else is cursing you for multi-shotting all the support mobs as well :D

    Kalthris – Arathor – lvl 70 Hunter, Kharazan EQ’d.

  37. Katy says:

    What I don’t like so much about the Hunter class is that, as you said, it’s so forgiving, yet Huntards brag about how awesome they are. They pretty much have their own tank while other classes (like squishy priests in their CLOTH armor with nothing to protect them but a short-lived shield bubble, which only works when they haven’t run out of their small supply of mana) have a stupidly hard time leveling until they manage to get shadow priest talents, and even then, those talents don’t start to help until the 30s or 40s. I’d like to see a Huntard try to level up a prot warrior and then say that they themselves actually had any real skills.

  38. David V.S. says:

    Actually, the “Huntard” insult more often relates to something else…

    As hunters gain levels they gain traps. When in a dungeon with a group the most useful trap is the “freeze trap” which magically encases a single enemy in a block of ice for a few seconds, during which they are out of the fight and cannot give or receive damage.

    By repeatedly re-trapping an enemy (drop a new freeze trap before the old trap’s ice block runs out of time) the hunter can reduce the number of foes in the combat encounter by one. The sucker being re-frozen can be safely dealt with after his friends have been killed.

    This is a big deal! Turning a 5 vs. 5 fight into a 5 vs. 4 fight makes things a lot easier for the party.

    (Actually, it will probably be no more than a 5 vs. 2 fight if the party has variety: the rogue saps a foe, the hunter drops a freeze trap for a second foe, and then the mage “pulls” by turning a third foe into a sheep.)

    However, to re-freeze a foe takes quite a bit of skill. The hunter needs to attract the foe so that the foe walks over the new trap. This sounds simple, but during the combat all sorts of other factors are vying for that foe’s attention.

    So a “huntard” is often a hunter who knows how to deal damage well but lacks skill in this very useful part of group cooperation.

  39. Donald K. says:

    If you don’t mind add-ons, a very useful one is Omen. If you get it, it’ll open automatically if you are in a party or have a pet out.

    What it does is show a list of everybody who has aggro on the mob you’ve got targeted, and flash a warning (red border on your screen) if you pass 90% of whoever is highest.

    It’s really useful for squeezing every last bit of damage you can without making the creature attack you. Somewhat less useful for tanks, but if they don’t have it nobody gets to see how much aggro they have.

    (If you’re interested, a web search for ‘WoWAce Omen’ should turn it up.)

    Most of the folks in the guild have it. It’s very useful for dungeons and the like, and it’s always a neat surprise to group with some random strangers for some quest and find out that they’ve got it.

  40. Stevan R says:

    …And hunter’s pet can off-tank adds if they are not too strong, especially if it’s (man/)bear/pig with leveled armor and hit points and if pet healing is still instant cast.

    By the time your hunter is lvl70 Shamus, you’ll probably be able to take on 4-5 (normal) mobs at once.

    Edit: http://wow.curse.com/downloads/addons/

  41. mark says:

    Another vote for learning to kire here. while not too useful at low levels, if mastered by 50ish, you can get your epic weapon with ease.

  42. zenaku says:

    After having played hunters for a while, i have to agree that they are one of the easiest classes in WoW. That is why most goldfarmers (players who are farming gold for the companies that then sell the gold for real life cash) choose them.
    If you truly want ‘easy mode’ with a hunter, put your talents into Beast Mastery. There are quite a few skills there that aid both the hunter and their pet. I suggest starting with Improved Aspect of the Hawk, to increase your attack speed. Working your way down, Improved Revive Pet, Improved Mend Pet, and Intimidation are musts.
    Imp Revive pet decreases the cost and increasses the health you pet comes back with. Imp Mend Pet reduces the cost and gives each tick of the spell a chance to remove 1 disease, curse or poison on your pet. And Intimidation gives you a new command that causes your pets next attack to stun the enemy and cause a large amount of threat.

  43. Riesz says:

    I had a good friend who played the hunter class very, very well. In our groups he consistently ended up on top of the damage charts, without drawing aggro and while being able to maintain freeze trap on a mob almost indefinitely. Basically, he was wearing greens and some quested and crafted blues; nothing more. Even the warlock in complete blues and purples didn’t manage to top his damage output.

    I also went into a dungeon once with some PvP wonderboy in full epics, who ended up BELOW me in the damage charts (and I’m the tank!) and couldn’t freeze trap a snail if his life depended on it. It really made me realise that hunters might be easy to solo, but that there’s a hell of a difference between a good hunter and a bad one.

  44. tom says:

    I’ve been enjoying reading these posts in particular. I stopped playing WoW a while ago but when I was playing, it was a Night Elf Hunter. I don’t recall ever learning the Feed Pet skill either, I just dragged whatever I wanted to feed my pet from my backpack amd dropped it onto my pet and let him go to town.

  45. Atheri says:

    Another trick for Hunter’s Mark: Since a Marked mob shows up on the minimap AND has an easy-to-see enormous pink arrow floating over its head, it’s a good way to tag, say, a wandering elite monster that you can’t handle solo. Tag him when he wanders by, then for the next 60 seconds you have a much easier way of spotting him in case he wanders back in your direction.

  46. Aiken Drum says:

    In Dun Morogh you are given the runaround collecting animals. As said it goes on long after you get the idea. Then he teaches you how to properly tame a beast and … and sod all else. For the rest you have to trek into Ironforge to learn how to train and feed the thing. As well as learn some things you can train it, Natural Armour and Great Stamina I think. Mebbe a rank of growl. It is a pitfa chain, but on the other hand it’s nice to have the “Woot! Level 10!” feeling.

    The thing with hunters is that they are easy to play, but to play it well takes skill and experience.

    If ever you tire of a hunter, try a rogue. Lotsa fun to be had sneaking around, picking off mobs, sapping then mining a node, also …. doing a truckload of DPS and being near as efficient and far more deadly than the hunter. Though admittedly, your armour is made of soggy cardboard but when things go wrong, Vanish, Sprint, /giggle.

    Also, I am looking forward to your post on add-ons when you start to dabble in their unholy goodness.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v324/AikenDrum/ui.jpg

    The pic is old, and though I am still using this particular UI, KTM has been dumped in favour of Omen and the Damage Meter is only brought out to compare a new spec with old, juggling effective gear or combo rotations.

  47. Stargazer says:

    So you have fallen for the lure of Warcraft hmm?

    Well I hope you will continue to be versatile.

    Regarding the Hunter’s Mark it, apart from the bonus to attack power, also renders the target unable to use stealth in any way and let you see it’s whereabouts on the minimap.

    I used to play a hunter in that besotted game. I used a good many macros, that you might find useful one day. Mind you they are all made for the end level so you might not be able to use all of them.

    I will copy-paste them from the forum I wrote them for without any changes, they might be out of date or broken, in that case I can’t help. Here goes;

    Aspect:

    #showtooltip [nomodifier] Aspect of the Hawk
    #showtooltip [modifier:shift] Aspect of the Viper
    /cast [nomodifier] Aspect of the Hawk
    /cast [modifier:shift] Aspect of the Viper
    /cast [modifier:ctrl] Aspect of the monkey

    This one cast Aspect of the Hawk, unless you press shift then it is Aspect of the Viper, unless you press ctrl, then it is Aspect of the monkey.

    Run faster macro:

    #showtooltip [nomodifier] Aspect of the cheetah
    #showtooltip [modifier:shift] Aspect of the pack
    /cast [nomodifier] Aspect of the cheetah
    /cast [modifier:shift] Aspect of the pack

    Casts aspect of the cheeta, or of the pack (cheeta for whole group) when you shift click it

    My lazy shot macro:

    I have it bound to my F key, so that is the one I press a zillion times a day. Also the 4. line actives my trinket every time the cooldown is up. If I had two “use” trinkets then they would both be there, just add another line and change the name. It is made so you can use the macro while holding shift if you don’t want to use/burn the trinkets.

    I also downloaded some empty sound files to my warcraft folder. So I don’t get any odd click sound, wuzz sounds or any of that irritating crap. It doesn’t make any sounds at all… Except for BANG and all the other sounds that my team members can hear. This added with the error sounds disabled and the hide error text makes my gaming experience very great.

    /script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
    /castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot
    /cast [exists,target=pettarget] Kill Command
    /use [nomodifier] Core of Ar’kelos
    /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

    Misdirection:

    #showtooltip Misdirection
    /cast [nomodifier target=focus] misdirection
    /cast [modifier:shift target=pet] misdirection

    It cast MD on the focus, unless you hold shift then it casts it on your pet instead

    Mounting up:

    #showtooltip [nomodifier] Reins of the Swift Frostsaber
    #showtooltip [modifier:shift] Golden gryphon
    /cast [nomodifier, nomounted] Reins of the Swift Frostsaber
    /cast [modifier:shift, nomounted] Golden gryphon
    /dismount [mounted]

    Press it and you mount your riding mount. Shift press it and you mount your flying mount.

    You need to change the name of my mount into the name of your mount…

    This one targets my pets target…

    /target [exists,target=pettarget]

    I have bound that to q. I use wasd to move my character and e to send my pet off (more on that in next macro). The number 2 I have assigned to autoshot. So when fighting multiple enemies and my target dies, I press q-2-e that makes me shot on the target my pet has begun shredding and cast hunters mark on it (see pet attack macro)

    Pet attack:

    Now this is my favorite

    /cast [nomodifier] hunter’s Mark
    /petattack [nomodifier]
    /petfollow [modifier:shift]

    It casts hunters mark on my target and sends my pet off to kill, mutilate and slaughter… should I make an oops and send it towards a wrong target, I just shift-click it and my pet runs back to me. Since I have it assigned as the e key then it is pretty easy to send off and call back again.

    Well that was it. I hope someone will find this useful.

    I used to read bigredkitty as he is very informative on the hunter class. Even so for new hunters.

  48. Eric C says:

    I never took to the Hunter class, as the whole sit-back-and-fire-ranged-attacks style of gameplay is dull for me. What I did find gratifying about the Hunter was the pets. Finding new and unique animals in the far corners of Azeroth, training them, raising their loyalty, feeding them – taking care of them. That in itself was a unique and rewarding minigame, much more enjoyable than the actual game of levelling a Hunter. I’d give the pets fun or funny names and find myself growing strangely attached to them. It’s a testament to Blizzard’s beast design that they could make such ferocious animals so lovable at the same time. I mean, who doesn’t love a furry, green, 8-foot tarantula?

  49. Suggested Website: Petopia. All you wanted to know about pets.

    http://petopia.brashendeavors.net/

  50. Jeff says:

    Er, I don’t think you play MMOs much, Shamus (actually, we all know you don’t), but what you described is part of the grind. It’s still new and fresh to you, granted, but when it takes you a week doing the same thing to hit the next level – there’s the grind.

    Anyone who thinks “You walk up to a monster an click the attack button until it falls over.” have never played, and aren’t the people complaining/quitting for the grind. WoW has a lot of distractions, but this remains the core of MMOs.

    Although as you said, Guild Wars doesn’t have this as it’s more a CCG.

  51. Mike Lemmer says:

    @Aiken Drum:
    Which only works if your foes don’t resist & stun you. I’ve seen saps in Heroics go horribly wrong. Rest of the party stands back as the rogue gets eviscerated.

    “Yeah, not touching that.”

    I’m leveling up the 30 hunter right now. My favorite pet class for solo play is the wind serpent. They get a high-DPS Lightning Breath for 50 Focus. It’s a ranged attack with no cooldown. That means when I sick it against a mob, it goes “Lightning Breath, Lightning Breath, TAUNT” before my Aimed Shot’s even been fired.

    Then I learned the boss wind serpent I had to defeat for a quest was Tameable. And that he had the quirk of appearing in a puff of smoke as a tamed pet. I must’ve summoned him 3 times to finally tame him. I then spent an hour trying to figure out the perfect name for him. Sinta the Red Serpent is now my favorite pet.

    My only regret is I had to Abandon a mountain lion I named after one of my childhood cats to make room for it. It was harder than I expected it to be, with that giant foreboding red “Are you sure you want to do this?” button looming in front of me. I had to convince myself I was just releasing him back into the wild, instead of permanently erasing him from existence. It reminded me of the “Buddy ran away to join the circus” explanations some parents give their children.

    It’s funny what people get attached to…

  52. Mike Lemmer says:

    @Jeff:
    Is that really surprising? Grinding’s the core of life. You grind out homework for school, you grind out work for money, you grind out practice for any number of hobbies. Repetitive actions to build up a resource or skill is a fundamental activity.

    It’s only a grind if you don’t enjoy it. For example, the core idea of sex is “grinding out babies”, but I don’t see many people complaining about doing it…

  53. David says:

    You sir, are a genious.
    I spent about 2 hours reading your posts (the one of your personal experience at the hotel is flawless) last night.
    And if that isnt enough today im re activating my account to Wow, because you just made me feel like playing again
    Keep up with the good work
    Awesome writter

  54. Aaron Nowack says:

    The hunter pet system is one of the most poorly explained mechanics in the game.

    The “huntard” insult tends to mean something different at high levels; it refers to a hunter who can’t handle trapping as mentioned by another poster, and also one that can’t manage shot rotations. (Not playing a hunter, I don’t know the details of that, but there’s an obtuse mechanic that means that your regular auto-shot won’t go off if you use certain special attacks within a certain time frame of the auto-shot going off. Which means that poorly timing your special attacks can actually result in less total damage than if you didn’t use them at all.)

    Fortunately, both the pet and shot rotation mechanics are being overhauled in the expansion.

    Re: speed and ease of play, the difference levels out somewhat at higher levels. Hunters are generally agreed to be among the best, but the other classes get much closer. For instance, Druids (my main class) start off fairly slowly, but after getting Cat Form become a great solo class (and pretty much never have to spend time eating or drinking).

    From my understanding, WoW was pretty revolutionary compared to previous MMOs in that pretty much every class can solo very well with the right spec, and even the few non-solo-friendly specs (Protection Warriors and healing specs, mainly) can still solo effectively.

  55. Stevan R says:

    @zenaku:
    Hunter’s DPS in late game (lvl70) instances comes from constantly “weaving” Steady Shots (SS) between “regular” shots, because it gives greater DPS then anything hunter can do, especially good when you calculate mana consumption of SS per damage done. As far as I remember, when Improved Aspect of the Hawk (IAotH) procs, it doesn’t speed up casting time of SS, so it means you loose 5 talent points for something that isn’t useful. (“Weaving in” SSs is a reason why you don’t have fast bows and guns late game – no one would use them.)

  56. Aiken Drum says:

    @Mike Lemmer

    Ahh, but that’s half the fun. I love the finesse of rogues. Stealth in, Distract, Sap, boggle for a moment as everything turns to thump you. It’s for this reason I have Vanish bound to Q and Sprint to E. And if that doesn’t work, heh, perk of the job is I get to watch the rest of the fight or go and spark up a cigar in the garden.

  57. Gahaz says:

    StevanR

    Aye there it is. Weaving shots in a rotation is exactly what splits the Hunters from the Huntards. What is ideal is 1:1 or 1:1.5 ratio, depending on weapon speed. In a 1:1 ratio you are expending one special shot per auto shot. If the weapon is slower, than your ratio is 1:1.5 which would go [autoshot] [special shot] [autoshot] [special shot] [special shot] [autoshot]…etc, etc, etc. Now my rotation with my current is auto, then steady, then auto, then arcane. Now, you must also learn to weave in other things for situational awareness, like traps, marks and such.

    Thats what is the dividing factor, there are the hunter’s that are tediously managing shots and amazing parties that there are hunters that can do great damage and help the party, and there are those that spam macros and mess up traps that make folks dislike us. Macros are great for soloing, but in a group or raid instance manual weaving will always be better.

    Its a class with a dumb face that has a rhythm game being played by an accountant behind it.

  58. Shuggah says:

    Somehow my hunters always run out of mana when grinding. It might be because of my playstyle, though. I tend to pull two or three mobs at a time to make the most out of multi shot. (Picking up a gorilla from Stranglethorn Vale as a sidekick at level 30-something has worked exceptionally well for me. Gathering up the mobs with the pet and then Thunderstomping keeps them literally glued to my pocket tank except for crazy crit streaks.)

    From my experience at higher levels enhancement shamans are another good option for nonstop grinding. When my shammy learned Water Shield, that provides passive mana regen and three charges of additional instant mana regen when hit – as an instant cast and for free to boot – my downtime went to practically zero. Combined with shamanistic rage that returns a percentage of your ap as mana on a chance-on-hit basis in melee, you can just heal yourself up after downing a mob and be ready for the next one right away. As an added bonus you get the visceral one-armed bandit thrill of waiting for those triple-crit windfury procs. :)

  59. Stevan R says:

    Gahaz:

    Good description in last line. :)

    Anyway, I was not so good at “weaving”, ’cause my lag is at around 200ms most of the times (Serbian ISPs…) so misjudging happened to me very often. But, there is no reason not to use that tactic in PvE. “Weaving” + Aspect of the Viper is OK for non-stop soloing, I guess…

    But, if I start WoWing again, I’ll level up resto Shaman. :)

  60. Dys says:

    Sap can’t be resisted. I’m not even sure it can miss.
    Vanish can’t be resisted, though stealth can be detected.
    If your rogue can’t sap without being seen you need a better rogue.

  61. Aiken Drum says:

    @ Vys

    Sap can be resisted. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. However, the major failing for rogues is getting too close and being spotted. Master of Deception and Imp Sap for instancing rogues is very useful, for raiding rogues … less so. So we have to rely on Distract a lot more when we hit the 5 mans.

  62. concerned says:

    Is there any chance that you’ll write about something other than World of Warcraft in the near future? I’m just plain surprised that you havn’t done a single thing about D&D 4e yet. I value your commentary on such things, and I suspect you’re likely to lose readership if you continue to post nothing but World of Warcraft articles.

  63. JFargo says:

    @concerned – Oh, come on! In the last 8 articles (the amount that shows on the front page at once) there’s one on there that’s not about WoW! What more do you want?

    (Yeah, I miss other reviews too.)

  64. Sheer_FALACY says:

    On my own level 20ish hunter I’ve found that growl is so powerful that I don’t really need to bother holding back. And that’ll only get better as I put more talents into beast mastery.

    Another thing that’s confusing about hunters is learning pet abilities. Certain pets can bite, or claw, or whatever. Every wolf can bite, but only certain wolves can teach you how to teach your pet to bite. Yeah.

    Also, huntard encompasses a WIDE variety of hunters, from those who don’t trap to those who don’t use pets to those who don’t use pets well (letting them die, sending them to the wrong enemy, leaving growl on in a group, etc).

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