Working to Improve

Let me start off by asking you a simple question.  Do you try to improve as a player in WoW?  I would hope the answer to that question is a definite “Yes”.  Now, how about a slightly more complex question.  How do you try to improve yourself?  I’d love to hear some of your answers to that question in the comments section at the end of the post.

There are many different ways a player could work on improving themselves, whether it’s improving your DPS, or survivability, or perhaps something else entirely.  Personally, I have a few different methods of working to improve myself as a hunter.  The first method is simple.  Talk to other hunters.  In Undying Resolution, we have our own little hunter chat channel.  During the course of a raid night, we are always using this chat channel for different things.  Sometimes we’ll pass things along to the raid leader, sometimes we’ll just goof off, but sometimes we’ll use it to share valuable information.  Some examples of what we have used this for is suggesting different talents on a per-fight basis, or discussing how to best survive an encounter while still putting out the damage required by the fight.   This method has been very valuable for all of our raiding hunters on any given night (this expansion, between 3-6 per raid).  With all of us working together as a team, not only are we able to improve ourselves, but help improve the raid team.  If I see someone dying to a mechanic that hunters could easily survive, what good would it do to let them continue dying to it?  That won’t help the raid team defeat an encounter.  Perhaps there is a mechanic that hunters are good at cheesing (i.e. the Aim ability in the Paragon’s encounter).  With our chat channel, we are able to share our knowledge gained from fight to fight to help benefit each other, which will in turn benefit our raid team.

Another method that I have been using recently is video.  The other day, I was able to record out first Heroic Spoils kill.  To touch it up, I added some music and posted it to Youtube for all to see.  I have listened to it a few times mostly for the music, but while doing that, I have a tendency to stop what I’m doing and re-watch the video.  Doing this, I have noticed a few things that I have done poorly through the encounter, such as missing key things in my rotation at certain times, as well as slow target swapping a few times.  Watching the video can help me the next time we are on that fight, as I now know more what I need to focus on to maximize my damage, which is very important since both of our kills have come with under 3 seconds left in the fight.

The last method that I use that I will talk about today is Skada and Recount.  Numerous people use these addons, but do they FULLY use them?  I only ever look at the damage portion of my Skada meter for a very short time each raid night.  In fact, I typically keep it off during fights, as it is one less distraction to deal with.  One things I want to point out is the Death tab.  If you die during an encounter, and you aren’t sure why, do you look at this?  I will always look at it to see what killed me.  If I see it, but am still unsure exactly how it happened, then I may ask others to help so it doesn’t happen again.  This meter will tell you the amount of heals you received in the past few moments before your death, as well as what damage you took.  This is vital to ensure steps are taken so you do not die to the mechanic again.

As I mentioned before, I posted a video on Youtube of our Heroic Spoils kill.  I recommend watching it yourself.  See if you notice anything that I did or did not do that could help you the next time you’re in a raid.  Do you see something that you had never thought of doing that could help your raid group?  Please share your feedback in the comments section.

Maximizing Your Pet

*Gets Gnomish Army Knife ready*

CLEAR!

*zap*

There we go.  A resurrected blog!  For how long, who knows, but at least for a day, I’m going to put something new up!

What I’m going to talk about today is how to maximize your pet’s DPS.  Specifically, I’m going to focus on your pets target.  Who your pet is currently attacking.

I learnt a good trick from my raid leader, Zweibel, sometime during DS.  He kept his pet on passive, and directed him who to attack.  After a while, I decided to give it a go, and see how it worked.  I have now been using that trick since halfway thru DS, and have never looked back.

The problem with keeping your pet on assist instead of passive is that whenever you switch targets, even for a short time, your pet will follow you.  This is NOT always a good thing.  I’m going to use myself as a good example.  One of my jobs this tier is soloing the Siege Engineer on Garrosh.  Now, if I was keeping my pet on assist, he’d come running over, and try to attack the add while I do.  Problem:  The add is on a balcony, where the pet could not get to.  That would be wasted DPS for a good 15 seconds or so.  With my pet on passive, I can keep him on Garrosh (or an add that has a high priority) while I go focus down the add I’m assigned to.

Another example, going back to DS, Yor’sahj, the one with all the different colored blobs.  If my pet was on assist, he’d come running across the entire room to get to the add we have to kill, losing valuable DPS time, when it’s not even needed to defeat the add.  By keeping him on passive, and directing him to stay on the boss, he is slowly DPSing the boss down while I’m distracted.

Now, one problem I had when first trying to do this was forgetting to even send my pet in to attack.  I ended up finding an addon (me, use an addon, what a surprise!) that helped me with this called Pet Attack.  This addon does one thing”  it shows a big message on your screen telling you if your pet is not attacking anything.  The addon is out of date, and once in a while bugs, and will tell you your pet isn’t attacking when in fact he is, but it’s been huge in my success as a hunter.

If you doubt that this will help, go to a cluster of training dummies.  Then fire two shots or so at each dummy, swapping targets every time.  Pretend these are adds in a boss encounter that for some reason you can’t multishot down.  Now watch your pet run from one target to the next, doing very little DPS.  You can see how beneficial your pet staying on one target can be.  Keeping your pet on passive will allow you to keep your pet on the boss during an encounter when you’re on add duty, or allow you to freely move him to an add that has a high kill priority, or even to an add that will need a stun shortly (Think during Galakras) if you are talented for it.

Keeping your pet on passive, and manually directing him, can noticeably alter your DPS from fight to fight.  I recommend trying this out if you’re looking to get an extra boost in DPS.  You’d be surprised at how well it can work.  Just don’t forget to have your pet attack something!

MoP Guides Coming Soon(TM)

Just a quick post today.  I know I have been slacking on this blog, but that is about to change.  In the coming days, I will be updating the guides for MoP, starting with Survival and BM PvE, followed by MM probably, as well as trying to get more information posted, once I have the time.  In the meantime, stayed tuned!

Ask Your Questions Here!

News from Beta seems to be slow going right now when it comes to hunters.  While I haven’t played beta much yet, mostly due to very low FPS, I plan on starting to get back into it and leveling, you guessed it, a hunter.  I would love for people to ask questions below if you have any about hunters in beta, and I can try to look into it.

So, got a question that’s been bugging you that you can’t find answered anywhere else?  Ask it!

Bits from Beta: Ghostcrawler explains Expertise

Taken from this thread, talking about expertise, mainly in PvP:

Shots that cost focus should give a partial refund when they miss. If that isn’t happening, we’ll fix it.

We don’t think Steady and Cobra Shot need to provide resources even when they miss. We’re not going for a design where hunters can be certain to always have maximum resource income in PvP. As long as they have enough focus, they’ll be fine. If we see evidence that hunters are focus-starved, we’ll adjust accordingly, but we haven’t seen that so far. There hasn’t been a ton of PvP testing on beta yet. There has been a lot of speculation, and while that is still valuable feedback, it is understandably less valuable.

If Shred and Backstab were so reliable in PvP, I don’t think there would be such a storied history of druids and rogues asking to buff alternatives to the positional requirements or just removing the positional requirements for PvP. In other words, I think “melee can nearly always attack from behind in PvP” is overstated.

If hunters get close to hit and expertise caps, they should do fine even against Agi users with high dodge chances. They won’t do fine against a rogue that pops Evasion, but Evasion is intended as a survivability cooldown. Different classes are different and cooldowns and durations all vary, but I don’t know that rogues have a great counter for Deterrence either.

The loss of minimum range is a huge hunter PvP buff. I don’t think we’ve seen the full ramifications of it yet.

-Ghostcrawler

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock lately, or who do not follow any of the information coming out of beta, hunters attacks can now be dodged like all melee classes, meaning we will need to meet the expertise cap to avoid our attacks being dodged.  This will effect us in both PvP and PvE scenarios, bringing us in line with the melee classes/specs.  It makes sense that they are implementing this, as all other damage dealing classes have either 2 caps to hit (physical hit and expertise) or a larger hit cap (spell hit), while hunters only have the 8% physical hit cap.

Bits from Beta: New Legendary

Blizzard is doing something new come MoP.  They are making a Legendary weapon that ANY class can use.  Yes, that means Hunters as well!  While there isn’t a lot of information on it yet, mmo-champion has a bit of information on it at bit.ly/JIrsud.  By the looks of it, there will be a Gun available.  This will be the first Legendary that Hunters will be able to use since Thoridal in Sunwell.  Unfortunately, not much else is known about the questline or available weapons at this point.  Still, this is something for us to look forward to!

Remember to check back here for more information about it, as information will be posted as it becomes available.

Bits from Beta: New Talents

Let’s talk about the new Talent system Blizzard designed for MoP.  This is a radical change from what we have used in the past.  Instead of going down specific talent trees, putting anywhere between 1-3 points into a talent to get either a new ability, a buff, or something else, you have 6 tiers (at level 90) of 3 abilities, and you get to choose one ability per tier.  The point of this new Talent system is that you no longer have a “cookie-cutter” talent spec that 95% of players are going to use for a particular spec.  Most of the talent choices now are a matter of personal preference.  Let’s go over what they have in store for us so far.  (Note:  Talents current as of June 14th, 2012, build 15752)

Tier 1 (Level 15)

Posthaste – Your movement speed is increased by 60% for 4 seconds after using Disengage.

Narrow Escape – When you Disengage, you also activate a web trap which encases all targets within 8 yards in sticky webs, preventing movement for 3 seconds.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera – Reduces the cooldown of Disengage by 10 seconds, and the cooldown of Deterrence by 60 seconds.

As you can see, this tier of talent choices focuses on your available defensive cooldowns.  Which talent you choose is preferential.

Tier 2 (Level 30)

Silencing Shot – A shot that silences the target and interrupts spellcasting for 3 seconds.

Wyvern Sting – A stinging shot the puts the target to sleep for 30 seconds.  Any damage will cancel the effect.  When the target wakes up, the sting causes 3,276 Nature damage over 6 seconds.  Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on the target at a time.

Binding Shot – You fire a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 5 yards of the landing arrow for 10 seconds.  If targets move 5 yards from the arrow they are stunned for 5 seconds (3 seconds PvP) and will be immune to the effects of Binding Shot for 10 seconds.

Two of these choices should look familiar to you, unless you have been playing Beast Mastery since you started playing a Hunter, or have not leveled one near max level yet.  What Blizzard has done is taken some of the utility talents out of the trees and given all hunters the chance to take them, such as Silencing Shot being used by BM hunters instead of just MM.

Tier 3 (Level 45)

Exhilaration – When you Disengage, you are instantly healed for 5% of your total health.

Aspect of the Iron Hawk – The hunter takes on the aspects of an iron hawk, increasing ranged attack power by 10%, and reducing all damage taken by 15%.  Only one Aspect can be active at a time.  Replaces Aspect of the Hawk.

Spirit Bond – While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate 1% of total health every 2 seconds.

This tier is dedicated to your survival.  You can either choose from self-heals or reduced damage.

Tier 4 (Level 60)

Fervor – Instantly restores 50 Focus to you and your pet.

Readiness – When activated, this ability immediately finished the cooldown on all Hunter abilities with a base cooldown less than 6 minutes.

Thrill of the Hunt – You have a 15% chance when you fire a ranged attack that costs Focus and Kill Command to cause your next ranged attack that costs Focus or Kill Command to be free.

This is the first tier with clearly DPS cooldowns.  All three choices come from already existing mechanics for Hunters.  Fervor being a BM talent, Readiness being a MM talent, and Thrill of the Hunt being our 4 piece tier 12 bonus.

Tier 5 (Level 75)

A Murder of Crows – Summons a flock of crows to attack your target over the next 30 seconds.  If used on a target below 20% health, the cooldown will be reset.

Dire Beast – Summons a powerful wild beast to attack your target for 15 seconds.  Each time the beast deals damage, you will gain 5 focus.

Lynx Rush – Your pet rapidly charges from target to target, attacking 9 times over 4 seconds, dealing its normal attack damage to each target.  The pet must be within 10 yards of the target to Lynx Rush.

Another DPS cooldown tier, this time with entirely new talents to choose from.

Tier 6 (Level 90)

Glaive Toss – You hurl two glaives toward a target, each dealing 682 damage to each enemy struck and reducing movement speed by 30% for 3 seconds.  The primary target will take 4 times as much damage from each strike.  The Glaives will return back to you, damaging and snaring targets again as they return.

Powershot – You wind up a powerful shot, which deals 400% weapon damage to the target and 100% weapon damage to all enemies in between you and the target.  Enemies hit by Powershot are also knocked back.

Barrage – Rapidly fire a spray of shots forward for 3 seconds, dealing a total of 288% weapon damage to the enemy target and an average of 72% weapon damage to each other enemy target in front of you.

This tier is about AoE.  Again, we are given new talents that we have not seen before to choose from.

As you can see, some of the talent choices are ones that we have experienced before and just didn’t have the opportunity to grab due to our spec choices, while some of them are entirely new to us.  Blizzard tried to do a good mix of both new and old to satisfy all players who didn’t want to see us losing some of the better choices that we had, but who also wanted new abilities to play with.  No more boring passive bonuses that you won’t directly see the effects of.  All of our choices are useful abilities that you will get to see and use more often than you did with the old system.

A few Tidbits

Nothing long today, just a few little things I wanted to post that I’ve learned over the past week or so.

Make sure you aren’t missing Serpent Sting on a boss

This is most important for survival hunters, but also effects other specs as well, just not as big.  Last week, I realized I went most, or at least some, of the Heroic Morchok fight, my first fight with UR, without Serpent Sting on the boss, mostly due to nerves and other things.  The problem was that I didn’t notice it until the fight was about over.  This week, I added an aura in TellMeWhen to show when my Serpent Sting was NOT on my target.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out the way I planned.  Halfway through the raid, I realized I had forgotten to tell it to show me ONLY my Serpent Sting, so really, this aura was useless.  I realized how much that hurt me after the raid, when I looked through logs to see why my damage was so poor on normal Warlord.  We had a, shall we say, interesting pull at the beginning, which caused some DPS downtime for me.  During this, my Serpent Sting fell off, but because of the failing aura, I did not notice this.  This caused me to move from my average spot of 7th or 8th in the charts to 14th.  I lost the 10% damage buff provided through the noxious stings talent, as well as Serpent Stings damage, the entire fight.  Ouch!

Don’t be afraid to laugh at stupid mistakes

Imagine this.  You’re on normal spine, your raid goes to roll Deathwing, and suddenly, 20 people all fly off at the same time.  Yeah, this happened last night, and it is in the running for most hilarious wipe I have been a part of in a DS raid.  I got a good laugh out of that.  Seriously, when 80% of your raid makes a stupid mistake, you just gotta laugh it off.  If only I had taken a screenshot of that…

Read logs

As I brought up earlier, logs can be very useful.  In this case, it make me realize that I really screwed up on Warlord.  Had we not been running logs last night, I probably would not have known what my mistake was, and I would have thought that I just really sucked on that fight.  Also, don’t just look at your logs.  See what other hunters in your raid are doing that is different than you.  Do they have a higher uptime on trinkets or debuffs?  Are they double-potting while you aren’t using any?  Look for room for improvement.

Don’t wait to pre-pot until the last second of a countdown

Our GM likes pulling at one second left in his countdown.  I like pre-potting within the last second of a countdown to maximize uptime.  These two styles clash, with me being the loser, as I learned a few times last night.  It’s better to pop the pot a bit sooner before the fight with less uptime on that potion than waiting and potentially using the potion just after getting into combat, meaning you cannot double-pot that fight without dying (and I would not recommend that route).

The Quest for a Perfect UI

Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I can be with trying to create the perfect UI.  Over the years, I have downloaded and tried probably close to 150 to 200 different addons, trying to find the ones that I enjoyed and that worked for me.  Some people like using the default UI, some people like using just a small handful of addons, and some people like using a lot of them.  I fit into the last category.  The problem with using so many different addons is making them work together, functioning well enough that it does not hinder you.  It can take some time to get that UI set up the way you want it.

Why am I bringing up the UI on a hunter blog?  Having a good or bad UI can make or break you.  All it takes is for you to not notice something because it is hard to notice with your current UI, and either you could be dead, or your DPS could take a nosedive.

Everyone is different when it comes to UIs.  There are a few good compilations out there that are already fully or mostly set up so that it takes only a little effort to have it up and running.  Some people would rather set up a fully customized UI look that fits their style.  Having tried some compilations in the past, I personally prefer setting mine up custom.  This is a picture of what my current UI looks like on a training dummy.

Finalflame's UI

(click for enlarged picture)

While this does not show everything, it should give you a basic idea of what I stare at when I raid.  I use a LOT of addons, but I am able to make them all work together so that it functions well, and I also enjoy the look of them.  While the UI is not perfect, it works for me.

Having used a lot of addons for so long, I have found that some are more essential than others.  About a year ago, I had some issues with an addon making the game not load.  Until I figured out what it was, I had to go with the default UI.  During this, I realized that there was a handful of addons that I really needed to maximize my performance, and to enjoy the game.  These are the main addons that I suggest for any raider.

Boss Mods

Any sort of boss mods.  The big three are Deadly Boss Mods (DBM), Deus Vox Encounters (DXE), and BigWigs.  I have tried all three, and eventually settled on BigWigs, as I did not have to do a lot of customization to get it set up the way I wanted.  All three are different, in both looks and functionality.  I have seen things that DBM calls out that BigWigs does not, and vice versa.  I suggest giving them all a go in an LFR to figure out which works best for you.

OmniCC

This addon places small timers over buffs, debuffs, and spells that tracks the time until they expire or are available again.  This makes it easier to know when a cooldown will be ready, rather than either guessing based on how close the bar looks to being done, or having to mouseover an ability to read the timer.  This is also compatible with other addons.

TellMeWhen

This is one of my favorite addons.  It may be the only addon I’ve ever suggested to my guild that people really liked.  This addon will let you create icons that can track numerous things such as buffs, debuffs, ability cooldowns (including internal), etc.  You can see this in my screenshot telling me that my trinket is usable.  I also use it to track Rapid Fire duration as well as Hunter’s Mark, and used to use it to track Serpent Sting and other important buffs and debuffs.

ForteXorcist

This addon is used to track cooldowns.  I prefer this addon over looking at my action bars for a few reasons.  All I have to do is look at one end of the bar to see what abilities are about to come off cooldown rather than searching my action bars for a few different abilities at the same time.  Also, it has a splash feature that will make the icon splash on your screen when something is available.  That is very useful when you are having to pay attention to the field rather than being able to look at cooldowns.

Quartz

A simple cast bar.  I prefer using an addon for my cast bar rather than the default mainly because of size.  While I don’t need a huge cast bar, I prefer one that I can see out of the corner of my eye so that I know when to queue up my next shot.  If I have to look at the field, I can’t be looking at a tiny cast bar at the same time.

Tidy PlatesThreat Plates

Some people prefer to play without nameplates on.  Personally, I can’t stand having them off.  If there is a large mob of adds, I like being able to see which ones are at high health and which ones are at low health, as well as which ones I am close to pulling threat on.

There are other addons that are very useful, such as Omen for watching threat, or Bartender for extra action bars that are movable, but I do not feel that these are required, as the default UI has these functions partially built in.  That being said, I have yet to see a guild that doesn’t recommend or require you to have Omen or another threat meter, so it is suggested that you have it anyways.

These addons can take some time to set up just the way you want it, so if you plan on ever re-doing your current UI, I suggest making sure you have at least an hour or more to devote to setting it up and testing it, making sure it works just the way you want it, and that you did not miss anything major.

Now, my question for you.  Are there any addons that you feel are fantastic for hunters that I didn’t mention?  Got a UI screenshot you want to share with other hunters?  Post your responses in the comment section below.

Your Pet and You: The Partnership

Time to discuss one of the things that makes being a hunter so great.  A nameable pet!

The great thing about a hunter and his pet is that you have numerous options when it comes to picking one.  What type of pet (bird, bear, cat, etc.), the talent tree that comes with the pet (ferocious, cunning, and tenacity), the color of the pet, even the buffs that the pet will bring to the raid.  That last part is what can make having at least one hunter in a raid essential.  The fact that you are able to bring a wide variety of buffs to the raid depending on which pet you decide to bring.

A pet can do a lot of the hunter’s DPS (the bulk of it if you are playing Beast Mastery).  If you do not have a pet out during a fight, your DPS will suffer.  The biggest thing that will affect your pet’s DPS is the talent tree.  Pets have a talent tree just like we do.  Depending on which pet you get, you will either get the Ferocity, Tenacity, or Cunning tree.  Tenacity is typically used as the tanking tree, which is useful for soloing mobs out in the world, or if you care to solo some bosses (Algalon anyone?).  Cunning is typically preferred for PvP, although due to a mix of being able to deal a decent amount of damage, as well as take some damage, these pets are not a bad choice for casual raiders.  Ferocity pets are regarded as the best pets for raiding, as they are able to deal, on average, the most damage.  However, they do not handle taking damage well, and it may be slightly harder to keep them alive.

Typically, the tree that your pet has depends on the type of pet it is.  For example, bears and turtles usually have the Tenacity tree, wolves and cats get the Ferocity tree, and spiders and birds get the Cunning tree.  However, this is not always the case, which can make your choice of a pet easier.  For example, the challenge tame Ban’thalos, the Spirit Beast bird that flies around Mt. Hyjal, has the Ferocity tree,  making it a great pet for hardcore BM raiders who want a Spirit Beast or a bird as a pet.

There are numerous different types of pets that are tamable around Azeroth, and all of them bring different buffs and debuffs to the raid, which can give hunters the job of filling in for other classes.  For this reason, it is suggested that you keep a variety of pets on you in case one is needed, or at least have a backup in the stable.  Some examples are ravagers (reduced armor debuff), core hounds (Heroism/Bloodlust/Time Warp), and cats (strength and agility buff).  Because so many different pets share the same buffs/debuffs, and they come in so many different colors, it enables you to get a pet that not only the raid needs, but that you enjoy looking at as well.

Beast Mastery hunters get a few extra bonuses for their pet.  They get extra talent points for their pets, as well as the ability to tame “Exotic” pets.  These pets are different from your average pet in that they sometimes come in different, unique colors, and sometimes come as a Spirit Beast.  Spirit Beasts, in addition to a very unique look, have an ability that can be used to heal both the pet and the hunter on a 40 second cooldown.  This buff becomes very useful, as when you are playing Beast Mastery, the only spec that can use Spirit Beasts, the pet does so much of your damage that a dead pet would drastically lower your DPS.

The unique pets, and the buffs they bring, are part of what makes playing Beast Mastery so fun.  Not just any hunter can have a pet with the colors that Beast Mastery can have.

A great part about playing a hunter is the choice that you have in picking a pet to use.  No other classes are able to make this choice like a hunter can.  You have a wide variety of pets out there that will bring different looks and different utility to the raid, giving you lots of options as to which pet will suit you best.  Now get out there and find the right pet for you!

Need help finding a pet, visit Petopia.

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