Thursday, July 31, 2008

I wanna cast... Magic Missile

You know, quite some time ago I had a dream that Tawyn had the chance to get the most rare and most awesome flying mount ever. She could get an owl mount, one that looked just like Tux.

And in the dream, I turned it down. My reasoning? It wouldn't be in character.

I woke up and thought "Dream-Pike you dorkchop! Giving up a super awesome mount like that in the name of roleplaying! You don't even roleplay all that often! Real-Pike is much more sensible than that."

Or so I thought.

This is Althalor:

When he was a wee young lad, he and his high elven merchant parents were traveling down Southern Gold Road in the Barrens when they were attacked by some particularly nasty beasts. They fought gamely but they were tired and weary and couldn't much fight back. With their dying breaths they managed to conjure up a spell that made it so the creatures did not see, hear, or smell little Althalor who was hiding in the caravan.

It was the Tauren of Camp Taurajo who found him and took him in. He was raised in Mulgore as an adopted Tauren, as a hunter, because of his uncanny skill with a rifle and his odd rapport with the lions of the Barrens. Today he fights for the Horde, passing himself off as a Blood Elf, although deep inside he feels that he really is a a Tauren in spirit.

So clearly he needs to ride a Kodo. This was the plan from day one. And for that, (unless you want the war mount)... you need to be exalted with Thunder Bluff.

At the tender level of two I ran him all the way from Sunstrider Isle to Mulgore. He cleared the place of quests and this led him to Crossroads, Camp Taurajo, and eventually Freewind Post in Thousand Needles. Considering the fact that I began with a distinct disadvantage (blood elves begin the game as Neutral with Thunder Bluff, not Friendly... and on top of that, a rather long questline in Mulgore is apparently Tauren-exclusive), I didn't think I was doing too badly. Tawyn was exalted with Stormwind at level 37, why couldn't Althalor be exalted with Thunder Bluff at level 40? Easy, I figured.

Then came the change to the mount level. I worried about my rep grind but hoped for the best; turning in as much cloth as I could at my low level and scouring WoWHead for quests I hadn't finished yet.

Today Althalor dinged 30.

...well dang.

Now don't get me wrong. I like the chicken mount. I like it a lot. I was so excited when the Warstrider was announced and then so crestfallen when I found out my taurengirl Lunapike couldn't get it. (She has some MgT farming in her future I think.)

But Althalor, I thought, no, he can't ride one. It would be obscene. In his story he hasn't been to the Eastern Kingdoms since he was a baby. Him on a hawkstrider? It would be So. Out. Of. Character.

So I said "Forget getting the mount at level 30. I'm not getting one until I'm exalted with TB."

I went to work today and realized I'd turned into Crazy-RP-Mount-Dream-Pike.

And I thought about it and I thought about it and I thought about it and I thought about Aspect-of-the-Cheetah-ing all over Desolace and it was this horrible dilemma, you have no idea.

Then I had an epiphany. He's trying to pass himself off as a Blood Elf right? So maybe his Tauren friends decided to help him out by obtaining a Hawkstrider mount for him... and he rode it around for a while because he was very grateful for the thought but it just made him so uncomfortable that he got a Kodo later?

...that sounds viable.

So I went and got the chicken mount.

It still feels awkward but at least my OOCometer isn't buzzing off the hook and blinking red anymore.

There are two morals of this story. One is I think Blizzard has really succeeded if they managed to create a world so immersive that at least some of its players are willing to do crazy things like forego mounts in the name of their fictional character's backstory. Two is that Pike is completely insane. But you all knew that I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Return of the Grumpy Care Bear

I was on Lunapike, my level 63 Hordie Hunter, and I was camping out in the inn in Tarren Mill because I'd been helping a friend out. At the moment though, my services weren't required, so I'd alt+tab'd out to do some stuff.

Suddenly I heard a bunch of commotion on my screen and pulled up the game just in time to see a big red cat clawing my face out. I could barely move before I was completely demolished.

Eh, it's Tarren Mill, it's to be expected. So I went back to the Inn and rez'd and then alt+tab'd again.

Same story about a minute later, big red cat destroys me.

So at that point I was getting annoyed but there really wasn't a whole lot I could do, this being my highest leveled character on that server. I started to play a little game with the guy. I'd stand in my spot in the inn, I'd see "Noodle gains Bestial Wrath" and "Noodle gains Dash" in my combat log, Noodle the kitty would run into the inn... and I would log out. I can only imagine the confusion on poor hunter's face when his big red kittycat came running back to him emptyhanded.

I did that a couple times and thought it was immensely hilarious until one of these times I logged in and the hunter himself was standing in my spot waiting for me, and I got demolished.

Okay, this was all getting super annoying, and at this point I was having to wait around in Ghost Form to rez because I'd died so many times in such a short period of time. So I figured I'd head out of there. Which was in and of itself a major pain, because even my Frostwolf Howler is apparently no match for Concussive Shot + Intimidation + Full S2 Hunter, and I died another two or three times on my way out.

Now it was around this point that I think the other people at Tarren Mill were getting annoyed too because they started disappearing and higher levels started showing up. Mr. AnnoyingHunterGuy left somewhere around this time, headed south, and we all made a group to go track him down.

We didn't see him anywhere, though.

But whaddaya do when you're in a group full of ticked off Hordies whose lowbie alts just got camped into oblivion?

You raid Southshore, that's what.

We leveled the place. I mean, completely leveled. There were no NPCs left. There were no quest givers left. The poor level 30-ish Alliance that got caught in the crossfire? Rest in peace. They can thank AnnoyingHunterGuy and Noodles.

Now the respawn rate on the guards was super fast and we were just killing them over and over. So I was figuring the Alliance World Defense must have been exploding with "Southshore is under attack!" which is why I was expecting the Alliance Response Team to show up and put an end to our shenanigans. See, I say that as somebody with experience about the other side. I always have WorldDefense on, and if Tawyn sees "Southshore is under attack" more than a couple times and she isn't in Outlands, she pulls out her PvP gear and hops on her gryphon-- you'd better believe she does. Usually she shows up right around the same time as five or six other similarly-minded people and we successfully defend our town.

But you know what, on this server, it never happened. The Alliance Counterattack I was waiting for never came. Every so often a single level 70 would pop up and they would quickly get killed. That was about it. AnnoyingHunterGuy never even came back (although he did /yell something at us in the middle of it, so you know he was somewhere and knew what was going on-- he just never came out to fight us.)

So after about twenty minutes of having Southshore firmly under Horde control we left not because the Alliance came to take care of us, but because we just got bored.

Victory for us!

So there you have it. Has Pike crossed over to the dark side? Gonna go around ganking and camping lowbies on a regular basis? Nah. I still like /hugs for the most part.

But revenge is sweet.

The best part of the entire night though?

Now I've had people make alts on servers specifically to say hello to me, but I can only think of a few cases where people who already live on that server recognize me. Makes me feel special. <3 And to Mr. Moonkin who asked me that, if you are reading, 'twas fun! =D

Monday, July 28, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 4

Thanks for the comments on my last video. There were some concerns that the technique used in the video was hard to understand, which I was afraid of, but I went ahead and tried it anyway. I also had some concerns that the movie did not go "in-depth" enough with techniques for kiting, but in all honesty, the movie was supposed to be intended for a new hunter who isn't level ten yet (or who has never kited before) so hopefully it was okay for me to have skipped some of the more "advanced" tactics.

So you've hit level ten. Yay! Two different important things can happen now: you can use your talent points, and you can tame your pet.

Talent Points:

Before you, you see three possible talent trees to put your points in. I'ma summarize them really quickly: Beast Mastery focuses on making your pet stronger (and eventually making you shoot much faster), Marksmanship focuses on increasing your own Ranged Attack Power, and Survival focuses on critting a lot and using various tricks to survive or help out your party. You could say that Beast Mastery shoots faster but for less per hit, Marksmanship shoots slower but for more per hit, and Survival is slower and does less per hit, but crits all the time. Pick your playstyle!

If you are just starting a hunter and want to get it to endgame, then you should be aware of the fact that the Marksman tree is currently considered to be a rather weak tree compared to the other two; although hopefully this will be remedied (or at least improved a little) in WotLK. It's not such a big deal for leveling though.

In all honesty I do not see there as being a "one true spec" for leveling. They are all going to be reasonably effective. Beast Mastery is often seen as "the leveling" spec because it makes your pet more of a tank and thus you have little downtime, but Tawyn actually leveled Marksmanship until level 55 or so, and had absolutely no problems (though that was before the Growl-changes, so it may be different now). I regret to say I haven't leveled a Survival Hunter past level 17 because I've been so busy with other goals I want to accomplish, but I imagine that leveling Survival, while maybe not as fast as BM or Marks, is still going to be handy because you will rarely die. That is just my conjuncture, however!

A while back Znodis did a lot of testing and found that an interesting BM/MM hybrid (enough MM for Trueshot, then everything else in BM) was actually probably the best spec in terms of grinding and pet threat generation, but it might have changed since then with the growl changes. Regardless, his thoughts are worth a look if you are okay with crazy hybrid specs.

In all honesty I think you should level up in the talent tree that you find most interesting.

If you do want my advice, I am going to say Beast Mastery, and I am going to say spec something like this. Yes, it's a different talent spec than the "leveling spec" I posted a few months back. But I sort of waver on my own personal opinions of a leveling spec, so I change it up a lot. Anyways, the one I posted is basic cookie-cutter 41/20/0 but with some twists that hone it more for leveling and soloing: namely, you swap out Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Improved Revived Pet for Endurance Training and Thick Hide, which are considerably more useful for leveling. I am still thinking about the possibility of Catlike Reflexes instead of Ferocious Inspiration-- I know it sounds like blasphemy, but for leveling it's not a bad choice at all and I wouldn't knock you for it (so long as you respec later if you are going to be instancing/raiding).

If you are still unsure of what you want to do with your talent points and want some time to think about it, but also want to start putting your points somewhere, I'm gonna tell you to put five points in Lethal Shots in Marksmanship and then come back at level 15 (you'll hopefully have decided by then). Heck, all my hunters level Beast Mastery and almost without fail I put the five points in Lethal Shots first. But that's maybe cause I'm a crit fiend.

Anyways, I don't want to go massively in-depth on the subject of leveling talent points, but I might do that in a later post if enough people are interested or think it's a good idea.


Pets! Yay! My favorite part of playing a hunter!

First of all, be aware of the fact that you will have to do your pet quest in your race's homelands; at the first major town you encounter after you leave the level 1-5 starting zone. So yes, that means that if you pulled a Tawyn and ran your Night Elf to Elwynn Forest at level six, you will have to go aaaaall the way back to Teldrassil.

The pet quest itself is pretty simple and involves you going and "taming" a few different test pets that the quest giver will tell you to tame. You will do this for three different pets until you are given the skill to tame pets permanently. Then you are sent to your home city (Ironforge, Thunder Bluff, etc. depending on your race) to pick up a couple extra (and necessary! Do not skip this step) skills and then you will be good to go!

"Pike, what pet do I pick?" Well back in the day, boars were seen as the supreme leveling pet and for good reason: their threat generation was massive. But the Boar-Shaped Piñata since been whacked into oblivion with the Nerf Stick so there is really no ultimate-leveling pet anymore. You may opt to go with something that has high armor, such as a bear-- keep in mind that bears cannot use Dash, though.

But see, my thoughts on pets has always been that you don't choose the pet, the pet chooses you.

Pike would tell her young Padawan to study Petopia closely, browse the available pets that are level ten or lower, and pick the one that jumps out to them. There are no restrictions, although remember that only some pets will be able to learn Dash/Dive at higher levels (which makes leveling quicker), and some pets are considered to be better for endgame (windserpents, ravagers, cats, and raptors fall into this category), but if you like a non-standard pet, then go for it.

What's that you say? You found a pet you like but it's on the other end of the world? ...what are you waiting for? You're a hunter! Go get it!

And I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door...

That's my level eleven dwarf hunter. In Durotar. Getting there was an adventure, it involved running through Duskwood (and dying a million times) and I would have died a million times in Stranglethorn Vale, too, but lemme tell you, having a level 70 priest put a bubble on you and then tell you "Run!" and follow you all the way through the zone makes things a LOT easier.

When I first got there, the dinosaur I wanted to tame was level eleven, and I was level ten. And, as you may or may not know, you can only tame pets that are your level or lower. So I grinded myself up a level on the random critters running around Durotar, managed to tame a rare Scorpion while I was at it and nab myself Claw 2, and finally abandoned him so I could tame my new dinosaur:

So cute!

Well, I'd like to go in more detail on pets and how your huntering strategy has changed now that you have a pet, but this blog post is already obscenely long, so we'll discuss that later. In the meantime, the afore mentioned Petopia is an amazing resource to peruse if you have pet-related questions.

As always... leave me your comments and questions!

Sunday, July 27, 2008



Last night, I was kind of a mess-- it was midnight, a million thoughts were going through my head, I'd just logged off in frustration, and I had to let those feelings loose somehow. So I wrote 'em all down in Blogger. It was super cathartic. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed some tears in the process. Before I hit the "Publish Post" button, I glanced at what I'd written and thought "Man... I should maybe just delete this all... nobody wants to hear my QQing." But I was hoping maybe I'd get some advice, so I published the post and then went straight to bed.

I woke up after a bit of a fitful sleep and went over to my computer and I had dozens of comments expressing support and help. People telling me they'd been through it before themselves, who were offering their own advice and experience. Ratshag even IM'd me to make sure I was okay. I also had some responses to a (rather embarrassingly) panicked post I made over on my guild forums, from guildies reassuring me that it wasn't my fault.

Are things magically fixed now? Well no, but I feel more calm and confident about it now. Whatever happens, will happen, and it will be okay. The point is, your collective concern helped more than I can express... so, thank you.

ANYWAYS, I don't want to dwell too long on mushy stuff like that. Aspect of the Hare will return to our regularly scheduled hunter programming on Monday (or maybe even Sunday if I'm feeling inspired.) You wants hunters, we gots hunters. And you wants the prettiest screenshot I've ever taken...

I was gonna say "You've got three guesses" but it's super easy, so you've only got one guess. =P

Friday, July 25, 2008

In Which Pike Deviates From Her Usual Positive Outlook...

Okay guys, I know this is super out-of-character for me, but it's gnawing at my mind and chewing a pit in my stomach and I'm hoping that by sharing it with you guys, maybe I'll feel a little better.

My guild is dying. And I don't know what to do.

Some of you may remember all the past victories of our guild, because I wrote about them so proudly. How we gained so many members, so fast. How we did so many heroics and eventually these turned into weekly Karazhan runs. We were progressing. We were < Entelechy > dangit. We were many. We were legion.

Then the boyfriend got busy with life-stuff and gave the guild to me. And at that exact same time my job decided to schedule me mostly afternoons/evenings from here on out. And at that exact same time, a bunch of the guild regulars... the people who had been there forever... started to slowly drift away. They left for bigger guilds. Or they left to play alts on other servers. Or they simply went on WoW hiatus.

And here we are today; this once mighty guild is hemorrhaging members. Karazhan runs? Unheard of. That was something we used to do. These days we're lucky if we can scrape together five or six people once a month or so to get in there with PuGs to fill us out, and we get stuck at Opera. Opera. This is not the < Entelechy > I once knew. This is not the scrappy group of friends that fought our way tenaciously through Medivh's tower, on our own, without the help of bigger guilds. This is not "THUNDERCATS HO" before Shade of Aran. This is not people affectionately calling me "Tawtaw" and cheeking with me, "I don't care if it's immune to traps, trap it anyway." This is not "FIVE SECONDS TO EVOCATE!!"

Not anymore. What went wrong? I don't know.

On the rare days that I can bring myself to log in to Silver Hand, I deal with more people who are leaving or contemplating leaving, because it is very clear that the guild is dying, or at least changing drastically. It hurts. I don't blame them for leaving, not at all. But you think about how before you become GM, there would be 15 people all online, all doing stuff and chatting up a storm in Ventrilo, and now you're GM and you're lucky if there's five people on... and nothing is going on, and the atmosphere is gloomy... and it makes you think. What am I doing wrong? Did I do anything wrong, or was it simply bad timing?

I'd give the guild away because I clearly do not have the time or energy to be GM, and maybe somebody else can salvage it... but there's hardly anybody left to give the guild to.

/gdisband? I've thought about it. Yep, I'm confessing it: I've thought about it. Perhaps it is necessary, like putting down a dying creature. But I don't know if I could ever bring myself to do that. Not this group of friends. Not this family. That was what we called ourselves, back in the day. We weren't just a guild. We were family. Combine that with the vague hope in the back of my mind that maybe it's just a rough patch we're going through, maybe we'll come back with a vengeance in Wrath of the Lich King... I don't know if I could bring myself to type out the command.

But in the meantime I have to put up with a heavy heart everytime I log in and see more people leaving or confiding with me that they are thinking about leaving, and see more half-hearted Karazhan runs getting canceled for lack of interest. It's painful, this hole in my heart is. And no Heavy Netherweave Bandage is gonna fix it anytime soon.

Though admittedly, writing it all down has made me feel better. The wounds are still there, yeah... but I don't feel quite so alone.

(Note to any guildies/ex-guildies that may possibly be reading: I <3 you all and I am not in anyway upset with anybody, or laying the blame on anybody. Too much happened at the wrong time, I think. I hope. If it was somehow my fault... I apologize.)

Give a hunter a fish...

...and he can feed his cat once. Teach him to fish, and he can feed his cat for a lifetime!

...okay, so that's not really how the saying goes, but I'm sure you've all heard it and know what it means.

I am here to talk about why I blog about hunters, and why I make "hunter kindergarten" posts, and things like that.

I try my best to write readable and easily-understandable Hunter How-To Posts because I think that there is a very big category of hunters out there that fall between the category of "good hunter" and "huntard." These are the people that are spec'd something cookie-cutter like 41/20/0, have gear that is at least mostly correct (no spell hit gems or shammy gear *shudder* ... but maybe going too overboard with one stat or something), and yet do not know why they are doing these things.

I have been in heroics with hunters who show up with a solid spec and a solid set of gear and then they start tossing random Aimed Shots into their non-existent rotation and Serpent Sting stuff they should be trapping. I've seen hunters that use the Auto/Steady macro and have no idea WHY it does so much DPS, they just know that it DOES, so they spam it, maybe with a bow that is several speeds too slow.

Now do I have anything against these hunters? Of course not, I was there once too, and I'm sure I'm still there in some aspects. That is why I write what I write, and that is why I advocate hunters learning to weave their shots manually before switching to the macro (if they choose to do so)... because it's all about the foundation.

I'll never forget how surprised I was one day when this story happened: I popped into game and four of my guildies were in a Heroic. I asked who the fifth member was, and they said a PuG'd hunter. I asked how the hunter was doing (I tend to ask that... I'm curious), but instead of the typical answers, which are always either "He sucks" or more often "He's okay, but...[something]", they told me "She's actually really good."

I got into Ventrilo and popped into their channel just to listen in, and chat a little. I had just got my Choco-Bow and mentioned how fluid it made my shot rotations, and the PuG'd hunter said "Hey, what shot rotation do you use, if you don't mind me asking?"

... /blinkblink

Another hunter was actually asking me about shot rotations. And we actually had an intelligent hunter conversation about them.

MADNESS, I tell you!

That's never happened to me before outside of blogs. I've had a lot of people come up to me in game and ask me for shot rotation advice, which I have always very happily given those who ask... but actually having a little discussion about it was new.

Since then, that incident has stuck in my mind, and it reminds me about why I write. Because incidents like that should not be as rare as they are. I shouldn't have to be surprised when my guildies say they PuG'd not just an okay hunter, but a very good one. I shouldn't have to be taken aback when somebody wants to discuss shot rotations with me.

I'm part of the "WoW Noobs" community over at Livejournal, where I can give advice to newer players (Heck, if you look back far enough, you can find a level 20 me asking what the meeting stone outside Deadmines is for), and I've noticed that new players are attracted to the hunter class like a magnet. This means that we, as hunters, have a big responsibility. Learn why you are spec'd what you are spec'd. Why you've picked one talent over another. Learn why your shot rotation is your shot rotation. Then, pass it on.

"But Pike, if everyone is a good hunter, won't that put you out of a job?" Maybe, but teaching-for-make-benefit-glorious-class-of-hunters is more important. Besides, I seem to have lucked out and I currently hold a monopoly on the hunter class in my guild. It's true, almost all of the other 70 hunters in my guild either /gquit, permanently started playing non-hunter alts, or disappeared entirely. It's really kind of odd and I'm not sure whether that's says good or bad things about me, but... hey. >.>

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Future

Edit: Good news for my non-BM hunter friends, it appears WoWHead was wrong and it has now been fixed... all hunters can get the "final tier" talents now.

WoWHead has the WotLK pet talents up.

See all those lovely talents along the bottom there?

Can't get 'em unless you've got 51 points in Beast Mastery.

I think spec'ing anything OTHER than BM in the expansion would drive my OCD-ness up the wall. "You mean I can't get those bottom talents for Tux? *claws at desk*"

But on the other hand, I keep looking at the WotLK hunter talent tree and thinking about all the new hybrid possibilities now. I'm talkin' about the potential to have Serpent's Swiftness and the Super Trap talents from Survival. Or heck, Serpent's Swiftness and Trueshot Aura in an unholy union. Or Expose Weakness, Trueshot Aura, Ranged Weapon Specialization, Improved Barrage, and some points in Master Marksman.

Of course, the big question is whether these potential hybrid builds will ever outclass the new talents. But I find it so very, very interesting to think about...

Anyways! I'm sure many of you are sick of hearing about WotLK, and I do find all the news kind of overwhelming myself. So! I will go back to concentrating on playing my current characters and writing about them (as best as I can anyway; I've been thinking about the ramifications of having a bunch of out-dated guides on my blog... the good news, though, is that there will always be new hunters who always need Hunter Kindergarten posts. At least, I hope so, between all the Death Knights.)

Monday, July 21, 2008


I have three things of interest to say in this post.

Firstly, this is my 200th blog post. I would wax nostalgic here and give a nice long speech about it, but I'm saving that for my one-year-blogoversary next month! Thank you, though, to all you crazy people that visit here every day.

Secondly, somebody got to my blog via the search term: "warcraft hunters why do you think you're special?" Well, Googler, the long answer is here. The short answer is "Because we are. Durr."

Thirdly, something is afoot among the druid community. I did my very best to defend my huntery honor in the Great Foshizzle Debate of 2008, and I maintain that Massive Quantities of Sustained Ranged Foshizzle is how it is best dished. But my level 40 druidling was very impressed by the unification of her fuzzy, feathery, and leafy comrades, so much so that she decided to show her own personal Foshizzleness against the baddest of the baddies: Edwin VanCleef himself. With only a level 11 priest (the alt of another druid, of course) by her side, Tamaryn ventured into that big scary boat and defended her honor.

Bear, Bell, Awlbiste, and all you other druid bloggers out there, this is for you... from the huntard with love.

(Disclaimer: if you didn't understand the last paragraph, it's okay. /pat)

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 3

So you've hit level 6 and you've got Arcane Shot. Great! This will make it easier for you to kill stuff before it gets to you. Now there seems to be some confusion, I think, involving when to use Arcane Shot. In all honesty, I don't think there is a set "best rotation" for Arcane Shot in the low-levels. But the basics that you want to know is that you don't want to use it too much, because it will eat up your mana and pull aggro away from your pet pretty easily. It does, however, round out most of the skills you will be using pre-level-62.

Hunter's Mark is the other thing you learn at level 6. There is some debate over whether Hunter's Mark is worth the mana. In my mind, it is: it provides a sizable DPS boost (particularly over time), and if you are spec'd for Improved Hunter's Mark, it boosts your pet's attack power by a significant amount, too. Think of it this way: if you are a Beast Master or Survival hunter, Improved Hunter's Mark is basically like your own mini-Trueshot-Aura. And if you are Marksman, it's more of the goodness! Rank 4 Hunter's Mark is going to give you an extra 110 AP and the more you shoot it, the higher that bonus rises (for ranged only). Pike's verdict: learn to use and love Hunter's Mark.

Typical Lowbie Hunter Rotation:
-Hunter's Mark
-Serpent Sting Opener
-Auto Shot until the mob is dead, throw in an Arcane Shot every so often to speed things up.

That's really all there is to it. Before you have a pet, you are most advised to use your Arcane Shot whenever you can, though.

If you are looking into doing more PvP than PvE, Arcane Shot is going to become basically the cornerstone of your life and everything you hold dear, but us more-PvE types typically love our Steady Shot more.

And now you've hit level 8. And you've got Concussive Shot. Your mission, if you choose to accept it: put your kiting skills to the test and learn how to jump-shot-kite.

Jump Shot Kiting is accomplished by jumping, turning, shooting, and then turning back and landing, while moving. Sound complicated? It is, and it's difficult at first, but if you practice a little, you will soon have the hang of it. It's a little hard to describe through writing, so I've made a movie:

I don't know if it is the clearest or most helpful movie, so let me know if you need clarification! Also, I have decided that Hellfire Peninsula is perhaps not the best place to hold many of these videos in the future, because over the overwhelming... red...ness... yeah. Note to self: Nagrand next time.

Well, congratulations, you have (hopefully) mastered the art of playing sans-pet. /diploma

And that'll do it for this week's installment of SYWtPaH. (pronounced Suit-paw...? Perhaps!) Be sure to join us next week when we go on a crazy pet-taming adventure!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


No really, I was literally having dreams about taming this guy, I was camping for him so much.

Althalor has The Rake, he has Humar, what's next? Sian-Rotam, of course. I'd love to go for the much lower-level Echeyakee but keeping three pets leveled up with me is simply not gonna happen... two is hard enough as it is, and typically requires forgetting about rested XP for the duration of my hunter career. I... am just that devoted.

I love pets.

I have been watching the new WotLK stuff popping up on Mania's Arcania with a lot of interest. It looks like I'm going to have two "cunning" pets (Tux and Eltanin) and one "ferocity" pet (Locke). Of course, that fails to account for Exotic Pets which are still a mystery.

Stable slots... it's all I'm asking for. C'mon Blizz! /beg /cry

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lunch Break

There is nothing more amusing than being in the breakroom at work, eating lunch and minding your own business, and suddenly hearing the girl next to you screech over the phone "I WAS IN THE MOST EPIC ALTERAC VALLEY EVER!"


So the new WotLK hunter talents are supposedly up on WoWHead, if you haven't heard already. Yeah, I looked at 'em and messed with 'em a little, but you know what? Not only am I still taking the talents with a grain of salt for various reasons, but I have way too much stuff I want to do before the expansion hits to spend too much time worrying about new talents.

I want Tawyn to at least see some Tier 5 content, other than that failed attempt at Hydross, before the expansion hits. Heck, I want Tawyn to see something other than Karazhan. I always feel kind of like a newbie when I'm trying to write about raiding and I've never even been to Gruuls/Mags (in all fairness, I've tried about a million times, but I seriously jinx Gruuls/Mags and they always fill up or are canceled.)

I want Lunapike to get to level 70 and start tearing up the battlegrounds.

I want Tamaryn to get to level 70 and start Tree'ing it up (I hit 40, by the way, and respec'd Boomkin. WTB Mana Battery, PST.)

Now we get to the secondary projects, which are that I'd like Althalor to tame Humar--been camping out for days now, with no luck thusfar-- and start working his way further up the leveling tree, I'd like Songlark to either start leveling seriously or at least hit 19 and become a semi-twink (my definition of a semi-twink: buy decent enough greens at the AH and put cheap enchants on them), and I'd like my dwarfyhuntergirl to start leveling as well.

But as my House-loving boyfriend likes to say, "You can't always get what you want", and with my time limited, it's time to prioritize. Sooo tough to pick from my characters though... I love them all. I do think that Tawyn, Tamaryn, and Lunapike are going to become my primary projects, though.

What do you guys want to accomplish before Wrath of the Lich King?

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Dear Pike,

I am a level 65 hunter named Syaoken on the server of Shandris. Questing and leveling has been going quite well for me, but, I've ran into a small problem... my pet. I tamed a Frostsaber Pridewatcher from Winterspring, her name is Sakura. But, the problem I am having is I don't know the best way to train her with skills. I don't know to give her the best stam or best armor. Of course I gave her the highest growl I could and also claw (rank 9). I don't know if the highest stam, highest armor, or even the resistances, are the most important. I just tried cobra reflexes for the first time and she kills so much faster. But, could you give me your two cents on the matter?

Thank you,

- Syaoken

Heya Syaoken,

The great thing about spec'ing your pet is that a respec is only 10 silver and it resets really quickly. For this reason, many hunters find themselves spec'ing their pet from situation to situation.

This is what I would do in your given situation:

First of all, the active skills. For a cat, I'd say max level Growl, max level Claw, and max level Dash. That is really all you need in terms of the active skills. Growl holds aggro for solo-play, Claw is going to be your focus-dump move, and Dash means you and your pet can kill stuff quicker!

After that, you want the passive skills. Max level Avoidance and Cobra Reflexes are both a must. Avoidance is going to be huge in determining your pet's survivability and Cobra Reflexes does provide higher DPS overall.

Next is stamina. Max that out because in the long run, Stamina is going to do a lot more in boosting your cat's survivability than armor will, because armor only protects against physical attacks whereas stamina protects against magical as well.

Now we have a choice, you can dump your remaining points in armor or spread it out over some resistances. Resistances are very good if you know you're going to be doing a lot of stuff in places with certain types of damage. You can also put some points in resistances and some in armor and it will work out nicely.

This is how I have spec'd my cat Locke for Karazhan/many Outlands heroics:

Growl Rank 8
Dash Rank 3
Claw Rank 9
Avoidance Rank 2
Cobra Reflexes
Great Stamina Rank 11
Natural Armor Rank 3
Arcane Resistance Rank 2
Fire Resistance Rank 2

This uses 349 of his 350 total training points and has worked just fine for me in early raids/heroics.

This is how I often spec Tux, my PvP/solo pet:

Growl Rank 8
Dive Rank 3
Claw Rank 9
Screech Rank 5
Avoidance Rank 2
Cobra Reflexes
Great Stamina Rank 10
Natural Armor Rank 3
Fire Resistance Rank 2
Shadow Resistance Rank 2

Now you will notice that he is a little more complicated because he is an owl, and I've taken advantage of that by training him both Claw and Screech. This is because Screech is very handy in soloing and in PvP but on occasion I will take him into an instance and turn on Claw. (While soloing: Growl/Screech/Dive, while PvPing: Screech/Claw/Dive). The Shadow and Fire Resistance is because you run into a lot of warlocks in PvP who like to DoT everything. =P

You will notice I had to sacrifice a point in Great Stamina to make up for Screech; to me, that is okay because owls by default have slightly more health than cats. Plus, I am usually wearing my PvP gear in a PvP situation, so Tux benefits from my additional stamina. But, it's all a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that the higher ranked skills cost many more points than the lower ranked ones, so sacrificing the highest rank of something will often get you enough points for something else that you want.

For your Sakura specifically... I would say, first get her Avoidance and Cobra Reflexes, then max out Growl, Dash, and Claw, then max out Great Stamina as much as you can, and then see what you have left and decide whether you want to try and spread the remaining points out through resistances or dump it into Armor.

Again, the great thing about pet-spec'ing is that it's very flexible and cheap to mess around with it, so experiment and see what works best for you.

Good luck!


Reproducing this here because I thought it would make a great guide! I have admittedly edited my reply up a little because I realized that I regrettably sent it on its way with some errors. Good luck to you, Syaoken, and I would check out Petopia and WoWHead's Pet Training Calculator for more on this topic.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Which Pike Goes Hollywood

A couple months back I got an e-mail from somebody telling me he was making a WoW website and would I write up a hunter guide for him, according to his template? I agreed, wrote one up and sent it to him.

I got an e-mail today saying that the site is up.

Lookie lookie:

Now I have to admit, I don't know a whole lot about this site or its project, but it does look like a big deal; a bigger one than I initially thought! I do have a few worries; one is that my guide isn't as great as it could have been. Reading over it now, there are some things I should have clarified or re-worded. Although, it was admittedly somewhat difficult to write because I was following a strict template. Also, reading over it, I can tell that it was rather condensed from my original guide. Anyways, I hope that I did an okay job (at least enough of an okay job that I don't sound like a complete huntard), and that people who want some more information on hunters click the little link to me and find their way here, where I can go much more in-depth.

Speaking of which, if you have managed to find your way here from that site... I'm Pike, and I like hunters. And Linux. Nice to meetcha!

I have a Beast Master specific guide that I'm working on for the site, and then I think I'm done with that project. Which I'm actually kind of relieved about, because as fun as it is to see my name attached to a big ol' shiny website like that, it simply does not compare to writing freely in the more intimate environment that is my blog. Where you guys can read it. /nod <3cha all by the way!

State of the WoW Address

It occurred to me that I haven't recently talked about what I am actually up to in-game these days. So in case anybody is curious...

Overall: I'm spending less time on WoW than I used to. This is due to a couple factors: firstly, my work schedule, and secondly, other real-life things. Also, as much as it sort of pains me to say it, I have realized that for the time being I essentially have to "retire" from active raiding and even Heroics-running, at least for a little while. See, I work in retail, where the schedules are random and I don't have any guaranteed days off (except Sunday, because I talked them into that), and the time of day that I work is very much subject to change. When I first started working here, I was working almost exclusively mornings and days, which left me the late afternoon/evening to do WoW stuff. These days, I am working almost exclusively afternoons/evenings. This means my time off is in the morning, and nobody raids in the morning.

I am sort of hoping this issue will rectify itself after a few months, which is when I'm planning to implement some fairly large life changes including a new job, but we'll have to see. I do enjoy raiding and instancing and I'd love to be able to write about more raiding misadventures but at the moment, it's simply not feasible.

So I am not on WoW quite as much as I used to be. When I am on WoW, my time is split between my Alliance characters on Silver Hand and my Horde characters on The Venture Co. See, when you can basically only play WoW when nobody else is on, you play less of your more "social" characters (which my Alliance ones largely are), and more of your alt/solo characters (my Hordies), so I've really been alt'ing it up.

Tawyn, 70 night elf hunter, longtime "main", has really not been getting a whole lot of playtime although I hop onto her sometimes to zip around and do the Outlands dailies (I really haven't felt inspired to go to the actual island since getting the epic flyer). I still <3 her dearly even if she's on semi-vacation.

Tamaryn, 39 night elf druid, is my other Silver-Handie that I've been playing. Yes, she's 39. Halfway through 39 in fact. That would make her my highest-leveled non-hunter, and my third highest level character overall. I've really become quite welcoming of the druid playstyle as something I can switch over to when I'm feeling "different". Tamaryn has leveled pure Resto and I have a hard time imagining her as something else; I like the thought of feeling invincible and feeling very defense-oriented as opposed to offense-oriented. I also really like healing in battlegrounds and in instances. I like the whole HoTs playstyle. (And have I mentioned recently that I'm madly in love with Nature's Swiftness + Healing Touch?) That said, I am considering respec'ing to Boomkin in another level... but... I dunno yet. I really like Resto.

And now the Hordies...

, level 63 Tauren Hunter, is over halfway to 64. In all honesty I could be leveling her a lot faster than I am, but I've had a bit of a hard time making the Outlands transition this time around-- leveling feels soooo sloooow and it's so hard to bring myself to do it this time. I am working on it, though, slowly but surely chipping away at that XP bar.

I have two different "futures" planned for her and which one comes to pass will depend on a few different factors I think. Option one is to make her a very PvP based toon, an idea which I find appealing-- it would let me experiment with various PvP specs and gear without spending tons of gold with Tawyn. Option two is to get her into a raiding guild (a server transfer wouldn't be out of the question for this). It will all depend, I think, on what happens when I can hammer out a more stabilized schedule and I can figure out exactly what is going on with Tawyn's future. Aaaaaaanyways...

Althalor, level 24 blood elf hunter... my highest-leveled male character. I lovelovelove his backstory and personality and I love playing a male blood elf because, well, to put it bluntly... helloooooo nurse.

His only current pet is The Rake but I'm camping out for Humar and once I'm 70 with him I'm gonna get Sian'Rotam and he'll have the three lions as his pets. ...did I just say "once I'm 70 with him"? Three level seventy hunters? Am I crazy yet? And should I be saying "80" instead? ...probably.

More people need to roleplay with poor Althalor though. I think his belf-ness scares the good RPers away. Guys! I promise I don't spend my days walking slowly and dramatically around Silvermoon talking about vampires! I haven't even been to Eastern Kingdoms since level 2! And look, I don't have a chibi-baka-kawaii-anime name* either! I am credible! /flails around

* The number of people I've seen, mostly belfadins, who fall into this category is staggering.

, level 18 tauren druid: this is actually the first "real" druid I made, but she was quickly surpassed by my alliance one because I wanted to play with my guildies. Now though, I kind of like the thought of having a secondary druid for when I'm feeling druidy but also hordey, so I've been slowly working on her. She had stints as Balance and as Feral but I have this strange terrible disease where I have to play Resto if there is a Resto tree available, so... yeah. /casts HoTs on you

Rounding out the active characters is Crazyhorns, a level 9 male tauren shaman. His creation was inspired by a buffalo plushie I have who was given to me specifically because "he looks like a tauren", my very favorite race in WoW. So I, of course, had to create his virtual doppelgänger. I keep planning to make him enhancement because that's what you're supposed to do with leveling shammies, but I dunno, I have this horrible history of spec'ing Resto if given the option. I do enjoy being able to cast, heal, and whack something's face in, all within seconds of each other. Hybrid classes are kinda fun.

Oh, I also have a female dwarf hunter I am sort of working on, but the details on her are classified, at least for the time being!

Well, that'll do it... now ya know what I'm up to these days. Cookie if you actually read through that post! I'm off to work now, but WoW seems to be downloading a new patch, so go get your mounts, young level 30s!

P.S. "Hunters: Using an instant ability after Steady Shot will no longer lock out auto shot." WOOHOO! I can't count the number of times my Kill Command has locked up my Auto Shot. And I even hand-weave my shots manually! So glad it's fixed now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 2

Note: I've disabled all add-ons on this character, just for consistency!

So you have picked your race, made your new toon, and spawned as a level one hunter. (Maybe on a certain server to /wave at some fellow bloggers, but that's beside the point!)

First thing's first, move things around the way you like them. Me: I move Auto Shot to "2" and Raptor Strike to "3", and racial abilities (such as Gift of the Naaru) move to the side. You can unlock and lock the action bars under Options -> Interface, which is also where you can add more action bars.

I also move my quiver over the the left-most bag slot.

There we go!

Now you accept your first quests and start shooting things. Now, there are ways to kite right from level one that will ensure you rarely get hit. Myself, I'm going to say that if you have never played a hunter before and are just starting out, you don't have to worry about being perfect at this point. So if your character pops in an "accidental melee" or two, don't beat yourself up over it... anyways, it's good to have that skill when you learn Wing Clip later.

However, you should never have to use Raptor Strike. It's true!

Get as far away as you can from what you want to shoot and still be able to use your Auto-Shot. Typically the Auto-Shot icon will be red or otherwise grayed out if you can't use it. Once you are at maximum range, fire away!

Now, you have a couple different options here to keep your mob decently at range at this point. The easiest method is to simply back up. Now remember that you cannot fire your Auto-Shot while moving, but you will notice that as the mob gets close to you, it will typically pause for a bit to attack, and that's when you can back up to regain some range and pop in an extra shot-- often enough to finish it off, at these early levels.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can try your hand at strafe-kiting. To strafe, press the Q and E buttons. By strafing and then occasionally stopping to shoot, you can typically keep the enemy at range.

Feel free to practice these two methods and remember, don't worry if you get hit, it's not a particularly huge deal at level one, after all!

Go turn in your quest once you're finished up. When picking your first quest reward, remember that hunters cannot wear mail armor until level 40, so you will want to stick with leather.

By now you should have ding'ed level two, so do your little quest that takes you to the hunter trainer, and see what they've got for you to learn!

At level 2 you learn one spell: Track Beasts. Pop it on as soon as you learn it by way of the "tracking" button by the minimap, you can right click on it to select what you are tracking.

Your general strategy will remain the same until level 4, when you learn Aspect of the Monkey and Serpent Sting. Pop on Aspect of the Monkey and keep it on-- you will want an Aspect on at basically all times from here on out. Serpent Sting is going to be your opener in most solo situations for the majority of your hunter career (once you hit the 60s you will probably be using it less and less; possibly not at all.) Remember not to use it if you are going to be trapping, though-- because DoTs will break your trap. But you don't have to worry about that for a while yet.

So at level four, your strategy will be to get at max range, open with a Serpent Sting, and practice keeping the mob away from you.

See? No Raptor Strike!

Oh, and don't forget to keep tabs on your ammo, and buy some if needed! You can buy some at a General Supplies vendor. Many first-time hunters forget about Ammo and wind up Ammo-less mid-quest. Don't let it happen to you! *taps chalkboard with stick for emphasis*

Once you get to level five, you get to choose your professions. The typical money-makers are skinning/herbalism and skinning/mining. (You can also opt for herbalism/mining but you can't track both things at once-- then again, as a hunter, you will usually be tracking non-profession things anyway.)

If you opt to go for a crafting profession, your three best bets as a hunter are probably leatherworking, which grants you the ability to make your own gear (including mail later on), engineering, which lets you make your own ammo, guns, and Goblin Jumper Cables (as well as a variety of other toys), and alchemy, which allows you to make your own elixirs and potions. All of the other professions (with the exception of tailoring, unless you are a bag-junkie or something) can also provide some sort of benefit to a hunter but the three mentioned are your best bets.

While you're at it, it would be a good idea to pick up First Aid, which will be very handy for healing yourself as you quest, and even for backup healing your pet. Cooking and fishing both have benefits (and their products can be used as pet food!) but I don't see them as being particularly critical right off the bat, especially because food is so easy to attain most of the time.

Well, that does it for this installment of "So You Want to be a Hunter". Leave me your tired, your poor, your comments and questions if you've got any!

Oh, and lastly, to the person who got to my blog via the search term "how can i play Ocarina of time with a steady shot on the keyboard"


Thursday, July 10, 2008

WTB Enchant Chest - Exceptional Stats, PST

So after what was kind of a cruddy day at work, I came home and found I'd received a little present in the mail...

And then what started out as ONE awesome thing became TWO!

Because as it turns out, my remarkably talented 14-year-old sister made Tawyn & Tux out of Pom-Poms for me. Accurate even down to the gear.

The result?

Phat lewts, and a happy huntard!


...and you most certainly did not see my ghost-like complexion just now. *waves hand*

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pike's Hunter Macros

I don't use a LOT of macros, but there are in fact some that I couldn't live without. Here they are...

Hunter's Mark/Pet Attack:

/cast Hunter's Mark

Puts Hunter's Mark on something, and sends your pet in to attack. My pet and I are never attacking something without Hunter's Mark on it, unless I have a reason to be (trying to take on two things at once, etc.)

Pull Shot:

/cast [nomodifier] Arcane Shot(Rank 4); [modifier:ctrl] Distracting Shot

Hitting the button by itself fires off a mid-rank Arcane Shot; holding Control down fires off a max-rank Distracting Shot. After either one, you stop casting, so as to not break your own trap. The first one is useful for pulling things to where you want them to be while out solo'ing or questing; the second one I use in raids/instances, just to be sure.

Tank Assist

/assist [tank's name here]

Useful in five-mans and some raids to figure out what the tank is targeting. Note that the tank won't always be targeting what you should be attacking, so use with caution!

"The" Infamous Macro

/script UIErrorsFrame:Hide()
/castsequence reset=3 Steady Shot, Auto Shot
/cast Kill Command
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear(); UIErrorsFrame:Show()

Basic 1:1 Auto/Steady Macro. Not as DPS-heavy as a more flexible 3:2 macro, but also not a mana-eater like that one would be. I very rarely use this macro (we've had the talk about how I think it's boring, right?) and it's here mostly in case of emergency (for example: massive lag spikes during a boss fight which makes manual weaving impossible)

Not hunter related but...

Action Bar Lock/Unlock:

/run LOCK_ACTIONBAR = (LOCK_ACTIONBAR == "0") and "1" or "0"

Locks and unlocks the action bar with a button click. I keep the action bar locked 99% of the time (I haaaaaaaate randomly pulling something off of the bar in the middle of PvP/a boss fight), but sometimes you wanna move stuff around, so that's what this is for!

And, yep, that's it for my hunter-related macros. I also have several "fun" macros such as my Mount macro (uses Flying Mount in Outlands, and Normal Mount in Azeroth) and my random mini-pet macro (have I mentioned my bag space issues? Now you know why). But I figured I'd try to keep this post as hunter-related as I can.

What sorts of huntery (or even non-huntery) macros are your favorites?

Monday, July 7, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 1


So you think you want to play a hunter, do you...?

Are you willing to accept the fact that you are going to be playing the most played class in the game and as such you will have to work hard to distinguish yourself if you want to stand out and prove yourself?

Are you willing to accept the fact that there are a lot of people who have given hunters a bad name and as such you will often find yourself in the position of being the WoW-equivalent of the kid who was picked last in gym class?: "Hey, there's a hunter in LFG." "..." "Yeah, we'll find someone else."

Are you willing to accept the fact that a lot of people are going to assume you don't know how to do your job(s)? Most people assume that mages know how to polymorph and rogues know how to sap. Yet in my experience... most people assume that I do not know how to trap, at least not properly. You have to show that you can.

Are you willing to accept the fact that a lot of people out there think that you are an overpowered and/or easy-mode class, and are you okay with being ribbed for it?

And despite the fact that you are often viewed as the easy-mode class, do you realize that you are going to have to do an incredible amount of micromanagement? Precisely timing your shot rotations. Controlling your pet. Keeping your pet alive. Chain-trapping. Kiting. Watching yours and the party's aggro. Doing massive amounts of DPS. All at the same time. Hunters are deep. Deeper than a lot of people will ever give you credit for. Are you prepared to find your own pride in your class because many other people will not give you the luxury of telling you themselves?

Are you prepared to give up a bag slot for a quiver or ammo pouch? Prepared to spend extra time going out and taming new pets so you can keep your pet skills up? Prepared to forego rested experience in favor of leveling up with your pets if you want to level up two at a time?

And perhaps most importantly, are you prepared to have an absolute blast?

If so, read on...

The Birth of a Hunter:

So there you are, at the character selection screen. Maybe you've already got faction picked out, maybe you don't. What race is best for your newfound hunterness? Well before I go any further, I want to say that honestly I think you should pick the race you think you'll most enjoy playing. Racials can be handy but in the long run the difference they make is usually not particularly huge. But here are the racials...


Draenei: Draenei hunters get Heroic Presence, which increases their chance to hit and also their pet's chance to hit by 1%. That might not seem like much, but it is actually going to be quite handy later on when you're trying to reach the hit cap, and of course, this is basically the only way except through the Animal Handler talent that you can increase your pet's chance to hit. Draenei also get Gift of the Naaru, meaning they can heal themselves or their pet in a tricky situation (I imagine a Mend Pet + Gift of the Naaru combo is very useful in emergencies). An overall solid race choice in my opinion.

Dwarves: Gun Specialization gives Dwarves an extra 1% crit when using a gun. This is quite handy, but on the other hand, if you wind up running into a really nice bow or crossbow that you'd rather use, then this racial becomes a moot point. Stoneform is going to come in super handy in PvP because it will remove a rogue's poisons, a warrior's bleed effects, and a hunter's stings. It also works in some PvE situations (for example, Moroes' garrote, or annoyingly long-lasting diseases). Again, a solid choice.

Night Elves: The "Night Elf Huntard" stereotype alone is enough to drive many long-time WoWers away from this option, and to be honest they're not missing much: while the Shadowmeld/Stealthed-cat combo is fun and can be quite effective, I myself have never found much of a need to teach a cat Prowl and I imagine most hunters would be in a similar situation. You also get a slight dodge increase (reasonably helpful in PvP), oh, and you can brag about getting back to your corpse faster when you die. *cough* Myself, I do have to say that I like night elves, because they have silly ears, and because I like proving people wrong when they assume that I am "just another night elf huntard". (In PvP too; nothin' makes the hordies mad like losing to a night elf hunter.) But they are probably the weakest choice for an Alliance hunter in terms of racials.


Blood Elves: These guys have Arcane Torrent and Mana Tap which can be pretty decent against casters or when you're low on mana. Really that's all you've got to help you out though, in terms of racials, and these spells depend on you being close to your target which you probably won't be most of the time. Blood elves do also get slight magic resistance which they can share with their pet, though.

Orcs: Orcs have a reputation of being the best choice for a hunter, period, which is why you see so many orc hunters running around (I do, anyway), and that reputation is well-deserved. Blood Fury is going to provide a very nice Attack Power buff (282 AP at level 70) which your pet will also glean some benefit from, Command is going to increase your pet's damage by 5%, and Hardiness gives you an extra 15% resistance to stun effects (super nice in PvP). You really can't go wrong with orcs.

Tauren: Tauren get a health boost (which in turn gives your pet a slight health boost) (thanks for the correction Sonvar!), Nature Resistance like Night Elves, and War Stomp, which can be quite useful when trying to get back into range. Overall the tauren racials really aren't as hunter-helpful as some of the other races but they're also not too bad.

Trolls: A solid choice for a horde hunter (though probably still second to orcs); trolls get Bow Specialization so they get an extra 1% crit with bows, as well as the ability to slightly increase attack speed (Berserk) and a beastslaying bonus which is useful for soloing or certain instances like Underbog. Again though, remember that if you wind up using a really nice gun or crossbow then your Bow Specialization becomes useless.

Once again, overall, I think that if one feels drawn to a certain race because of their backstory or the way they look, then by all means, play that race, even if the racials aren't the best. My own current three highest level hunters are a night elf, a tauren, and a blood elf, and if you asked me, I'd say those are the three "weakest" races in terms of hunter racials. And yet I adore playing those characters because I have stories for them. Don't be afraid to play whatever race you want.

Well, that sums up our first segment of "So You Want to Play a Hunter?". I imagine this will be a very long-running series because I have a lot to cover, and a lot of you guys left TONS of comments in my "Request for Comments" post, which shows me there is more of a demand for this type of thing than I initially thought. Got questions/comments? *points at Comment Box* fire away!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Stopping by Karazhan on a Foggy Evening

Ever had to chain-trap during Moroes? All the way through Moroes? You get a ton of buffer time on your trap cooldown at the beginning so it's all easy, and then that cooldown dwindles and dwindles as the fight goes on and by the end you're pulling out all the stops with your Concussive Shot and extra Distracting Shots, and frantically running around hoping nothing stupid happens.

Feels absolutely great afterwards when you've successfully pulled it off though. Oh, let the 'locks and the boomkins and the rogues have the top of the DPS chart for that battle-- you, meanwhile, you know that you've got that CC on farm and that you're a big reason why things went so smoothly.

Lemme tell you a lil' about Karazhan; I started playing WoW a couple months after Burning Crusade was released. I was level 6 and everybody else was just getting to 70 and just getting geared up for raids. I walk into Stormwind for the first time and hear the names of these seemingly mythical legendary bosses being whispered in trade chat. Moroes, Maiden, the Curator, Shade of Aran, Prince Malchezaar. This makes an impression on you. You know nothing about the game but you know about this rogues' gallery of bosses that, in your tender young eyes, only the greatest of the great are ever going to see. And to down one of those bosses must be an amazing feat of pure unadulterated epic-ness.

And now you're giggling at me because Karazhan is the Deadmines of level 70, and yeah, I'm giggling with you.

But you gotta put yourself in my shoes for a second and realize that when this stuff sinks into you and makes an impression on you from basically day one-- it doesn't go away. Yeah, it's just good ol' KZ and I won't deny sometimes it does make me want to smack my head repeatedly into the wall, but it holds a special little place in my heart. All these months later the music still gives me goosebumps, and all these months later a successful boss downing still feels special.

Bigger raiders can have their Black Temple or their Sunwell Plateau that they're all proud of; me, give me my crazy lil' tower in the middle of nowhere and all its storied villains.

Pike/Medivh: BFF!

(P.S. I originally wrote a poem parody to go along with the title of this blog post. But then I opted not to post it because I think I want to polish it up. Maybe if you poke me nicely, I'll finish it and post the thing.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Request for Comments

I was thinking of starting up a new "So You Want To Be a Hunter?" series, which would start at... well it would start at the character creation screen and work its way on up from there. There's just so much I want to cover about hunters and so much that I assume everybody sort of knows and then I find out people still want to learn about... I think a long-running series like that might possibly be helpful.

However, I also don't want to simply rehash things that have been already been done by places like WoWWiki or BRK, both of which I know have great beginner-hunter-guides, as do a lot of other good blogs out there.

So I come to you readers and ask: is there anything in particular you'd want to see if I started a series such as this? Do you want movies? Pics? What sort of questions would you have as a new hunter? What do you wish you knew when you started out that you know now? Anything I could cover that you haven't seen covered anywhere else? Just let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Happy Fourth of July weekend to my fellow Americans and a nice "normal" weekend to the rest of you. I might be going back to Karazhan this weekend for the first time in about a month, so we'll see how that goes!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stats for a Hunter: Part 2

A while ago I whipped up a guide called "Stats for a Hunter", where I discussed the "main" stats, such as agility and stamina, and their importance (or lack thereof) for hunters.

I had a couple requests to add to it with Attack Power, Crit Rating, and Hit Rating, and that has been my plan all along, so here we go:

Attack Power:

Attack Power effects how much you will hit for with each shot. 14 Attack Power will increase your base DPS by 1. Oh, and Attack Power typically applies to both Melee and Ranged (unless otherwise specified.)

Now remember, one point of Agility will also give you one point of Attack Power, as well as some crit. This is why many hunters, myself included, prefer to gem and enchant themselves up for agility rather than Attack Power. However, as always, use your judgment. Many times an AP gem or enchant will give you much more raw AP than the Agi gem or enchant; at the expense of the crit that the agi will give you. A good example would be your two-handed weapon enchant. You are either going to want Savagery (+70 attack power) or +35 agility on it. Which one is better? ...well, it depends. I tend to stick with the agi myself, because I'm a crit fiend, but few people will fault you too much for Savagery especially if you are very low on AP for some reason (unless you are a Survival hunter, in which case you had better be enchanting for Agi! =P)

I did once write up my own thoughts on why I'm more of an Agi fan over AP, so feel free to take a look at that if you want more info.

Crit Rating

Critical Strike Rating does what it says on the tin: it improves your chances to score a critical strike: an attack that does twice your base damage. At level 70, the chance to crit increases by 1% per 22.08 crit rating.

Now crits are delicious, not only does the crit itself do a ton of damage, but it lets you use Kill Command, it gives your pet a ton of focus (if you are spec'd for that), and your pet can in turn use that focus to score its own crits and proc frenzy/FI/etc. if you are a Beast Master. It's pretty plain to see why I'm addicted to crit.

Don't forget that agility will also get you some crit, although not quite as much as "pure crit rating". So it's sort of like the opposite of Attack Power. You've got Crit on one end, Attack Power on the other, and Agi in the middle. Agi is a nice middle ground, gets you a little of both, and scales with Blessing of Kings which is why so many of us opt to stick with Agi when possible.

Hit Rating

So what's this crazy thing called hit rating that you maybe saw a little bit in old-world Azeroth but is all over the place in Outlands?

Well, hunters, do not underestimate the importance of hit rating.

You know when you shoot something and you "miss"? Yeah, you just lost a bunch of DPS as well as the chance for a possible crit which, as I said before, does a ton of great stuff. How can we fix this?

Here's a little background info. We are hunters, and our ranged attacks cannot be parried, blocked, or dodged. We can miss, though. By default, at level 70, we have a 9% chance to miss against a level 73 raid boss. That 9% chance can be reduced to almost nil with enough hit. It takes 15.77 hit rating points to gain 1%, so if we want that full 9%, we need 142 hit rating points. 142 is the magic number (the meaning of the life, the universe, and everything + 100 after all) and you want to get that or as close to that as you can get.

Hitting 9% more often is basically a 9% damage increase, which is huge. This is why we learn to love the hit.

Once you get to 142 hit, obtaining any more than that is useless and you can start focusing on other stats. Going over isn't going to hurt you but it also isn't going to help you at all. On the other hand, it might be good to be just a little over to give you a buffer in the event of maybe getting some awesome new gear with no hit on it. It all depends on how much min-maxing you want to do!

Oh, and there are some special things that can help you here, aside from gear. If you are a Survival Hunter, you probably put points into Surefooted, a talent which gives you a hit boost. Similarly, if you are a draenei, you have a slight increase to hit through your racial. In the former situation your hit cap is only 95, in the latter, it's 127.

Now you may be feeling overwhelmed at this point, wondering how to keep track of this all and how you will ever be able to balance all of these stats, plus the "initial ones", once you hit 70. Fortunately, it's not that bad! You can make clever use of gems and enchants to help boost yourself where you may be lacking. When in doubt when it comes to new gear, you can always install and use one of my favorite addons, RatingBuster, which will easily summarize for you all the pros and cons of some new gear. (Don't forget to take enchants and gems into account though-- I've done that before-- passed on something awesome because "Oh it's not as good as my current thing", then realized I wasn't taking enchanting the thing into account. x_x)

Well, that'll do it for now. As always, I love your comments and questions!