First off, big apologies for getting so off the ball with this series. I know I used to reliably post every Monday and these days it's much more haphazard. Partially I blame real life (curse that real life, getting in the way of more important stuff! /shakes fist) and partially I blame the honest truth that it's simply difficult to write something like this when I know I'm just gonna have to rewrite it in a couple months.
But I do this in the name of huntering everywhere!
That's right buster, we're gettin' you to 70 today.
At Level 62? Steady Shot. Praise Elune, the Light, the Earthmother, the Voodoo, or whatever you praise. Now in WotLK, if the hunter trainers are correct in saying so, you'll actually get this at level 50 which is pretty spifftastic but until then, 62 is the magic number.
Steady Shot is basically responsible for hitting you upside the head and saying "Shot rotations nub!" And this is where your playstyle goes from Auto Shot/Serpent Sting to something much more akin to what you'll be doing at endgame: weaving your shots.
"But Pike, I don't know what you mean by that!"
Don't worry, it takes a little practice. You want to learn to weave your shots, including your Steady Shots, inbetween your Autos in a way that they do not clip your Auto Shots and hence cause a loss in DPS. For more details on this (especially if you are BM-spec'd) I'm going to scoot you over to a guide I wrote here and a video I made here. The macro, if you choose to use one, can come later-- all hunters should understand the fundamentals first.
Moving on: Level 64 gets you Aspect of the Viper. Before the recent change to mana-regen this was a nice new Aspect, but after the recent change to mana-regen this has become an "OMG YES MY LEVELING LIFE IS SAVED" Aspect. I'm not kidding, on my latest hunter, levels 62-63 were spent with Mana Oil constantly on my weapon and an Intellect Elixir always active, and I was still going through water like nobody's business.
Aspect of the Viper is going to become your best buddy in terms of leveling, grinding, and a lot of PvP. Some people use this 100% of the time in raids/instances/heroics. Now I dunno about the higher-level raids, but honestly I do not see Viper as a raid/instance Aspect. I use Hawk. The DPS increase you get with Hawk (and by extension Improved Aspect of the Hawk) is not to be sneezed at, and especially with an Elixir of Major Mageblood, Mana Oil, Int/Mana regen buffs or some combination thereof, I've done basically every heroic as well as Karazhan with Hawk up 100% of the time (with rare exceptions in cases where Illhoof or Prince will decide to drag on and on and ooooooon).
At level 66 you will learn Kill Command. Kill Command is usable anytime you crit and if you have Focused Fire, it has a very good chance to crit itself. It does a lot of damage. It also has its own little cooldown that you will learn to time and coordinate with your shots. I myself have it hotkeyed so I can easily pound the hotkey without interrupting the rhythm of my shots.
At level 68 you get your final trap, Snake Trap. Snake Trap releases a bunch of little snakes that attack something for you, using an assortment of poisons. When to use it: In PvP to annoy the living daylights out of people and slow them down, and PvE on bosses with random aggro tables, for example, our good buddy, Shade of Aran.
See, poor Shade here decided he's tired of those motherfrackin' snakes in his motherfrackin' library, so he blows them up. Instead of you. Handy eh?
And at level 70... Misdirection. A wise hunter once said, "Misdirection is the best hunter skill ever. I use it all the time, in almost every dungeon I run." This is something I heartily quote for truth. What it does, is make it so the threat of your next three attacks are applied to the target of your choice.
...that's the tank, by the way. *pulls you away from the priest*
Use it on bosses, firstly, and if you're like me, you may opt to use it on every pull that it's up so you don't have to Feign Death within five seconds because you're a crit-monster. Also useful for pulling something straight to the tank. If that something has a huge aggro radius, be really careful when you do it. Prince likes to squish hunters. You'd think he dated one once or something. Just sayin'.
Ideally when you use your Misdirection you will use your three-biggest threat-generating abilities (I like Distracting Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot, myself) but it's okay to just fling the Autos and Steadys in there too, that'll cause plenty of starting threat.
Well, congrats to you. If you've followed this series so far you will have followed the steps on how to get a hunter from the character selection screen all the way to level 70, and hopefully learned how to "not be a huntard" as well. The series isn't done, because I've got a 12th episode planned on endgame stuff. And then of course, when Wrath of the Lich King hits, I'll extend it to 80 (and probably rewrite much of the earlier stuff as well.)
Oh, and here's the Table of Contents so far:
So You Want to Play a Hunter?
Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30
Part Nine: Levels 31-40
Part Ten: Levels 41-60
Part Eleven: Levels 61-70 [Current]
Have a good weekend, yarr!