Archive for June, 2009

A Defensive Confession

June 11, 2009

There is something that every hunter is told to do in instances. Without fail, this rule must be followed or the group and/or raid will descend upon the poor mistaken hunter in a  flurry of teeth and claws and insults to the hunter’s intelligence. It is a rule of huntering that all must follow.

And I break it all the time.

Whenever I instance or raid, I keep my pet on defensive.

It’s not as huge of a sin as having my pet on aggressive, mind you. But I see it drilled into hunter’s heads everywhere, that all pets MUST ALWAYS BE ON PASSIVE OMG OR YOU’LL WIPE THE RAID, LIEK FER SRS.

The reason for hitting the baby seal is to ensure that your pet doesn’t go running off somewhere and aggro things that must not be aggro’d. The number one instance of this that comes to mind is the Baron Rivendare fight in Stratholme – you get close enough to start the encounter and the aura hits you, and your pet goes dashing off to start the encounter while the healer is afk and drinking and omg you’re all dead.

While the “all pets on passive” rule of thumb makes sense, in order to streamline the run for all involved, I have a problem with it. Mainly, it assumes – and reinforces the belief that – the hunter is incompetant and lazy.

With your pet on passive, you never have to worry about it being on the wrong target, and that is the only benefit from it being on passive. The negative aspect, however, is far more damaging to a raiding hunter – the lost dps time. How many times, with your pet on passive, have you found yourself firing away on the target with your pet sitting pleasantly by your side? As a Beast Master hunter, your pet is nearly half your dps. You cannot afford that half to be licking itself mid-combat. Not if you want to hold your own!

What I do can be tricky. It takes practice. It takes effort.

What I do is pay attention.

I put Mijikai on defensive. This means she runs out to attack as soon as I do, and it means she switches targets without me having to do it for her. This keeps her damage up, and means I don’t have to worry about sending her out every time I switch targets.

But I know the fights. I keep Mijikai on defensive during Razorscale, but I know that if she gets hit by any of Razorscale’s fire, she’ll run off to somewhere odd and stand in the fire that will inevitably be there, and die. So I keep an eye on her. I don’t send her off after each mob, but I make sure to rein her in if she strays too far.

I put her on passive – temporarily – for misdirect pulls. During Ignis, she stays on passive until the tank has aggro, then I click her onto defensive and don’t have to think about her again for the rest of the fight.

Yes, it’s harder than just clicking the pet attack button every time you want your pet sent out. But it keeps her damage up, which keeps my damage up, and lets me smirk at the pets I see idling in the middle of combat, while Mijikai grows big and red and rips into whatever’s in her way. It’s a worthwhile trade-off.

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Eponymous: Crowd Control

June 3, 2009

The near-unexplored wilderness of Ulduar has brought into play a skill now rarely used among hunters. While once it was a heavily-sought ability, changes had nearly banished the practice from use altogether…until recently.

This long-lost talent is known as “trapping”.

The large quantity of mobs occasionally present in Ulduar has resurrected this long-lost art. The two hunters in our raid this evening chosen to trap were myself and our survival hunter. Allow me to use the two of us as examples as I explain some DOs (myself) and DO NOTs (survival hunter) of trapping.

DO: Find a spot to drop your trap a good way from where the fighting will be taking place. This way it will avoid any aoe- or splash-heavy spells.

DO NOT: Place your trap directly next to the other hunter’s. This just ensures that one trap is wasted, since the first mob to hit one trap will set both of them off.

DO: Place your trap early and keep an eye on its cooldown. Ideally, you want your second trap available for use as soon as your target gets caught in your first trap.

DO NOT: Use Freezing Arrow to start chain trapping. You lose the time you need for your trap cooldown to be up in order to effectively chain trap.

DO: Use Freezing Arrow as a last-minute, desperate last resort to keep something trapped mid-combat.

DO NOT: Pull the other hunter’s trap target into your trap. While the other hunter is hopefully good enough to switch targets at the last second, if the pull is borked, it’s probably your fault.

DO: Move ten to twenty yards away from your now-trapped target, set another trap, and move yourself another five yards in the same direction. This way the target will hit your trap before it hits you.

DO NOT: Run away after placing your trap and forget that you’re supposed be doing crowd control.

DO: Keep your target trapped until there’s a tank deliberately tanking it.

DO NOT: Give up trapping because leet dps is way more important, like, for serious.

Rotation vs. Priority

June 1, 2009

Talent crunching and gear grabbing is all well and good – and definitely important – when it comes to teh huntaring. But there’s a question I’ve seen probably close to five bajillion times, and the main problem with it is that the answer shifts like sand in an hourglass.

“What’s my shot rotation?”

At first glance, it seems to be a humble and perfectly valid question. After all, you only have so many shots to use, and there are so many factors to keep in mind, such as mana efficiency and cooldowns. As Beast Masters, we were spoiled in Burning Crusade by endlessly spamming the Steady Shot button. Collectively, we have been slapped upside the head by Blizzard and told that we can’t do that anymore.

When someone asks for what their shot rotation should be, they’re looking for a set-in-stone list of buttons to push. A sadly large number is looking to slap together a /castsequence macro so they can take their brain and pitch it back into the trash can for raiding. Unfortunately – or thankfully, depending on your outlook – all a castsequence will get you is dismal dps.

That’s right – we no longer have something as strict as a rotation to rely on. Instead, what we’re looking at is more along the lines of shot priority – a hierarchy of spells to pull from based on each individual situation at hand. While a rotation might work when all you do is stand and pewpew, a lot of fights now force you to get your butt moving or burn to death.

For us, the number one priority is Kill Shot. If it’s up, and you can use it, USE IT. It’s your heavy hitter, your huge damage dealer, the thing that crits for over 10k and it is glorious. Second to that, assuming you’ve dumped the three points into improving it, is Arcane Shot. It has a 6-second cooldown, yes, but the improved version will do more damage than Steady Shot but cost the same amount of mana. Plus, it can be used on the run.

Now, since we’re using Glyph of Steady Shot – you are using that, right? – we want to have Serpent Sting active on the target before firing off a Steady Shot. I use the Quartz timer mod in order to keep an eye on if my Serpent Sting is up. If it’s down, throw it back on before you move on to spamming Steady Shot.

The best thing about having a shot priority rather than a rotation is that it trains you for fast shot maneuvering mid-combat. Flame tornado whirling your way? Break the Steady Shot cast and toss out an Arcane Shot as you make a break for it. Ignis tossing you into the air? Renew your Serpent Sting while you’re flying. Auriaya spawned her litter of kittens? Keep an eye on your cooldowns while you sit through casting a Volley.

We may have more buttons to push than we used to, but we’ve still got it easy compared to the other specs, which have to worry about Chimaera Shot and Black Arrow and yadda yadda. If you’re still feeling confused, however, I’ve whipped up a handy flowchart to help you figure out what to fire when:

shotpriority

See? Easy as pi. 😀