Friday, August 29, 2008

I Can Dream

(P.S. Yes Bear, I'm working on that gear guide for you.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Trolls

Tauren and Trolls are, without question, my favorite two races in the game. Anything that would come in third (probably gnomes; gosh I wish they could be hunters) are a very, very distant third. It is perhaps ironic that overall I still prefer the Alliance lore and aesthetics over the Horde lore and aesthetics, and I'll always be a Stormwind Girl at heart, but when it comes to races, there is no contest; Horde win.

My love for Tauren (especially female Tauren! <3) has been manifested in my adoption of Thunder Bluff as my Hordeside home, making my blood elf character an adopted Tauren, and of course, making about a zillion Tauren characters such as Lunapike who is my Hordeside Main (and honestly, probably my New Main these days).

And my love for Trolls, well... wait a minute, I've failed to ever get a Troll character past level 17 or so.

I know, it's horrible. My Troll characters, as much as I adore them, have all met bad ends for one reason or another.

One of the first characters I made was a Troll Hunter on Silver Hand. I named her Shantizar. I ran her to Dun Morogh when she was level ten so she could tame a Snow Leopard. I have a screenshot of her /flirting with my boyfriend's main, who was like... level 30 at the time. That's how long ago this was.

Unfortunately my initial impressions of Silver Hand Horde failed to catch my eye and that character sort of fell by the wayside. When I next gave Horde a shot, it was an all new server-- The Venture Co.-- and the server immediately gave me a "this is home" feel, the same one I get on Silver Hand Alliance. So basically all my hordies since then have been on VeCo.

Anyways, flash forward several months. I wanted to give the Survival tree a shot but I couldn't bring myself to respec one of my current hunters away from my beloved Beast Mastery and on top of that, I think one of the best ways to really get a feel for a talent spec is to level through it. I considered resurrecting Shantizar of Silver Hand but she was broke and I wanted to give a boar a shot, so... I rerolled entirely. Shantizar the Second was born on a completely different server, she tamed an aggro-monster of a boar who she named Niels, and she got to about level 17 as Survival.

Then... things happened. Boars got nerfed (so sad, I loved Niels "Boar" /sniff), the server never really gave me the "home" feel that I look for in a new server, and I decided that as much fun as exploring a new talent tree was, spec'ing something other than BM is just hard for me to do. I can't help it; I'm a pet fiend.

And so The Survival Project was put on hold and yet another of my poor Trolls never saw level 20.

But something interesting happened the other day. I logged onto Shantizar the First, with Scraps the Snow Leopard by her side-- this character hadn't been touched in months-- and I got that feeling. The "home" feeling. The one that hadn't been there when I'd originally made her so long ago.

So... I've started playing her again. Just a little, on the side. No rush, no pressure.

And I think I'm gonna respec her to Survival. And I think I'm gonna level her in the Ghostlands, a zone which I have never been able to get into before.

It's about time I had me some jungle lovin', right?

P.S. Someday I swear I am going to make a hunter named Schrödinger and tame the Ghost Cat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Letting Go

When I first took over guild-leadership of my guild from my boyfriend, I was relatively certain I could do it. Unfortunately, as time went on, I found that it was not to be. Being a Guild Leader requires a lot of time and energy to devote to the guild, and I had neither; my work schedule makes it near-impossible to be online during peak hours and even on my days off I am prone to hanging out on different servers, alt'ing around-- that's just how I am.

It got to the point where I would log on and people would ask me about guild ranks, the guild bank, or other important stuff and I would have to say "...I don't know." It was rather embarrassing. The guild leader doesn't know what's going on with her guild? It was true, though. It worried me a lot; I felt like I was doing a poor job as Guild Leader. And on top of that, I have never been much of a "Leader" type person. All that stress was making it hard for me to enjoy the game.

So, not too long ago, I made a thread on our guild forums stating that I was resigning from guild leadership. A good friend and long-time officer has taken over for me. I'm glad that it was able to work out that way, because I feel that a lot of pressure has been taken off of me, but it's also awkward to watch, at the same time.

The face of the guild has changed a lot in the past few months. People that defined the guild in the early days have left and new people have come. We have had an official "guild clear" of Karazhan now-- which I couldn't attend, because our raid times fall during my work hours-- and now that I think about it I don't think a single person who was in that recent "guild clear" was part of that initial group of us that started raiding way back in the beginning. It's kind of weird and very surreal to think about.

My officers basically took over for me a few months ago when I made it clear that I wouldn't be around very often, and now that I have stepped down, it has been made even more official: ranks have changed, guild policies have changed, this guild is no longer at least partially "my" guild the way it was back when my boyfriend and I were co-leading it. I'm not going to say it's a bad change, and I do think the officers are doing a solid job-- but it's very different, and somewhat awkward to deal with.

It's hard to say what Tawyn's future is at this point; what the guild's future is and whether the two of them will continue to coincide. A part of me would like to try to squeeze into more raids and at least get Epic'd out before WotLK hits, so I can say I did it; another part of me knows that will be hard to do with my schedule and sort of doesn't really care enough to work around it. We will just have to see.

Now I promise it's not all doom'n'gloom, in fact, mostly I've been having a blast. I still adore the game and my hunters and I am excited about the prospect of my second level 70. Thinking back on it, after the initial "Just-dinged-70-funk" wore off, the process of getting geared for Karazhan was one of my most enjoyable experiences in WoW and I'm looking forward to doing it again.

And in other news, I still don't have a Beta invite yet. Not that I'm dying for one-- in fact I feel like I have too much left to do in Burning Crusade to focus on Beta-- (not to mention a lot of awesome hunter blogs have been thoroughly covering it already; I like being one of the remaining non-Beta hunter blogs) but gosh, I'm starting to feel like the kid Blizz picked last in gym class! =P

Monday, August 25, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 8

Levels 21-30 are fairly straightforward although they do culminate in an awesome prize in the name of Feign Death (and these days, a mount.) Let's see what sort of goodies you'll get:

Scorpid Sting is what you will learn at level 22. This reduces a target's chance to hit by 5% for several seconds. Not really as useful as Serpent Sting in early-level grinding, but your friendly neighborhood tanks and healers love it on boss fights in instances and raids. Just remember to keep it "refreshed".

Beast Lore, ah, Beast Lore is great. You learn it at level 24 and will show you information about any beast in the game; its armor, hit points, the amount of damage it does, and (most importantly) whether or not said beast is tamable and if so, what moves it teaches and what foods it eats.

It has occurred to me that we have not yet talked about taming pets for skills. Basically, you will want to continually update your pets skills and the ranks of their skills as you level. You can learn some abilities from the hunter trainer, but others you have to go out and "find" in the wild. Once you find a pet with the skill you want, you tame it (be sure to put your previous pet in the stable first), feed it and teach it growl-- and then go out and fight with it. After a time, when it uses its special ability, you will get the message "You have learned a new skill: [Pet Skill and Rank]" in your text box, which means you are now free to teach it to pets who are able to learn it.

At level 24 you also learn Track Hidden. Track Hidden does not work quite like the other tracking spells; as in it isn't going to put every rogue or stealthed mob on your mini map (that would be nice, but alas, it doesn't happen.) What it does is increase your stealth detection and puts mobs that you detect on your minimap. This is a handy tracking spell for quests with lots of stealthed mobs (such as those prowling panthers in Stranglethorn Vale) and also in PvP if you think there might be a rogue or druid close by.

At level 26 you learn Track Elementals, which works like most other tracking spells against anything that says Elemental on the tooltip.

Level 26 is also when you get Rapid Fire. Rapid Fire is good for: emergencies when solo'ing when you have to get something down fast (be sure your pet has a solid hold on threat), boss fights when you want to unleash the DPS, and PvP to get an edge vs., say, other hunters. Post-Steady-Shot hunters, you will have to be on your toes to continue a shot rotation while under the effects of Rapid Fire but it's certainly not impossible to manually-weave one in there.

You learn Frost Trap at level 28. It's good for escaping mobs that you'd rather not fight (or that overwhelmed you), and it's really good in PvP. Put one at a choke point in AV (such as on the bridge), or my favorite: put one at the entrance to the tunnel right before your flag-carrying teammate runs in. All those guys hot on his tail? Yep, derailed.

This trap is also good for kiting guys around whether in PvP or PvE, though for the most part I found that I mostly just need Wing Clip/Concussive Shot.

And then you hit level 30! Grats on your mount, firstly. (back in my day I had to walk through Stranglethorn Vale, uphill both ways! /shakes cane)

Aspect of the Beast is the newest Aspect to welcome to your stable and I'm sad to say it's not particularly useful. It is a pure PvP Aspect-- it makes it so other classes with tracking abilities cannot track you-- and I've used it once or twice in Warsong Gulch when going for the flag (or defending it), or on PvP servers in hotly contested areas... but for the most part I don't find it to be worth it. Your mileage may vary.

Much more importantly, you learn Feign Death, which is your lifeline when it comes to dropping aggro. Use it when you have aggro, use it when you don't have aggro yet but are getting there, and use it to get people (and pets) to stop targeting you in PvP. Use it and learn to love it. You can read much more about the mechanics of Feign Death at my post about it here.

If you are leveling pure Beast Master you will learn Intimidation here, which is handy for stunning people in PvP, and for helping your pet to establish aggro when out questing. Marksman hunters will likely be putting their point here into Scattershot which is great for getting back into range (especially in PvP). Survival gets Counterattack but in all honesty I have never used this move so I can't tell you much about it. I hear it is useful in PvP.

Mmm, learning more and more hunter stuff all the time. Tastes yummy, doesn't it? We're cooking up some more, too, and it smells delicious. But that'll wrap us up for this week.

In case you are new to the series, here's where we're at thus 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 [Current]

Until next time, go pamper your pet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Have any of you read the Warcraft books? Some great stuff there. The Boy and I are currently reading "The Last Guardian" together (also reading "Star Wars: Heir to the Empire" together, but that's another story).

The books are a great way to really immerse yourself in the lore and history of the Warcraft universe, as well as crack horrifically dorky jokes with your reading buddy that, on the one hand, are just bad, but on the other hand, somehow manage to be absolutely hysterical.

"Hey look, Moroes... vanished. *spends the next five minutes giggling*"

"Hey guys, it's Khadgar, I'm super lost and I somehow walked into a big battle of evil green guys =( Can I get a summon to Maiden's room?" "Khadgar, you're in AV, we haven't summoned you yet. Relax." *once again, spend the next five minutes giggling like a lunatic*

In all seriousness, Warcraft lore is awesome, and I think it's one of the big things that made WoW as popular as it is. I spend a lot of my freetime devouring WoWWiki, it only makes sense that I'd move on to the books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Humble Pie

Today I got owned by a blood elf hunter. Twice.

Granted, she had a druid with her. But I had a T6 rogue with me. And later, a mage with me too.

The story? One of my good friends leveled a hunter to ten and asked what sort of pet she could get that wasn't seen every day. I suggested the cute red Springpaw Stalkers in Eversong Woods; it's certainly not every day you see a level 10 draenei hunter with one of those, afterall!

So we pulled together a group of buddies, nabbed a warlock, and us level 70s flew to Zul'Aman and headed into the heart of Blood Elf country.

T6 rogue (a heck of a good one, too) got there first, and I'm not exactly sure how it happened but somehow he got in a spar with a druid and a hunter. I dashed into the fray; determined to save him since his health was dropping quickly, and targeted the hunter.

I pulled out all my usual tricks that I do against fellow hunters; you know, the ones that ensure that I almost never lose against other hunters, as I like to say. And yet somehow they all failed miserably and I was laying rather embarrassingly on the ground before I could think.

Our magey friend showed up and quickly died as well, so the three of us-- rogue, mage, and hunter, decided to rez all at the same time, dispatch of the healy druid, and then proceed to the hunter.

That failed too, we did manage to kill the druid but he rez'd within two seconds and we were all dead again. Dang.

Well by this time more horde 70s were starting to show up, and it was painfully obvious that they were all PvP geared and we were sporting our PvE duds, so we all just sat around in ghost form and waited to deflag before rezzing. We did so, our Warlock pal showed up, we located a Springpaw Stalker and summoned our lowbie hunter friend who proceeded to tame herself a new kitty.

The curious horde showed up about now, all gathered around the unusual bunch that we were, so I /pointed at lowbie hunter and /pointed at her new cat, and /nodded. Blood Elf Hunter /cheered.

Afterwards I logged into a hordie and sent her an in-game mail telling her I'd enjoyed our spar (but she should catch me in my PvP gear next time, I added cheekily) and wished her hunt's luck.

We hunters, we've gotta stick together.

I've Got a Fever and the Only Prescription is More Hunters

Just some random thoughts...

-- The hunter obsession shows no signs of slowing down. Lunapike is level 66 (Kill Command, come to me my precious), Althalor is level 31. I've sort of re-adopted another level 12 hunter I had lying around who I hadn't played in so long that her pet had 126% experience because of the turnover from the pet leveling speed increase. Which happened a loooong time ago.

It's sort of funny how much I genuinely try to get into other classes and how much I fail miserably; balance/resto druid is my best attempt and I've actually gotten her to level 42 but I can only stand playing her for short amounts of time before I have to run to the comfort of my hunters. I do still plan on getting her to 70 and going healy... someday. Because I have found that I enjoy healing, but I dislike DPSing as anything other than a hunter, and unfortunately there is a lot of DPS involved in the leveling process.

-- Thinking I'm definitely gonna experiment around with the various updated hunter talent trees in WotLK (seriously, did you see the Explosive Shot in Scarlet Monastery YouTube movie?) although I have a hard time imagining permanently spec'ing something other than Beast Mastery-- simply because I love the hunter/pet symbiosis so much. I have tried a few times now to level a survival hunter (call me crazy?); it always falls through because one of my favorite parts of leveling a hunter is watching my pet slowly get stronger and stronger. Definitely glad to see the other trees getting some expansion love though; it's about time.

-- I love all the e-mail questions/comments you guys send me, and please don't stop sending 'em, but I feel I should stress that if I do not get to you within a couple days, it's nothing personal, I'm just rather busy with lifestuff right now! I read everything though.

-- I headed out to Blasted Lands the other day and did a bunch of DPS tests. Now I know testing my DPS against a level 57 mob is not as accurate as testing it against a raid boss, there are a ton of differences and factors involved, but I wanted to have a somewhat controlled environment with set conditions ("I will do science to it!") and still get my pet in on the action which isn't exactly possible with, say, Dr. Boom.

The results of my experiment? I do as much DPS hand-weaving a 1:1 rotation as I do spamming a 1:1 rotation macro. I know, crazy, right? I surprised myself and tested it multiple times with the same results-- I was getting about 1050 DPS whether I manually weaved or macro-spammed. As you can guess, this makes me incredibly happy, because now my stubbornness when it comes to hand-weaving is justified! /dance =P

Of course, I also experimented with a 3:2 macro, which bumped my DPS up to about 1125, a huge increase, but left me with zero mana in a matter of seconds. So that macro was banished away to a hidden location for emergencies. I still like hand-weaving my own shots. I am just that psychotic. I have been getting some e-mails lately about macros and different Beast Master rotations. I want to come right out and say I am not the expert on shot rotation macros but I think it is a "Hunter Kindergarten"-style post which I will probably look into writing up because there seems to be a lot of interest on the subject.

Well, that'll do it for today's Random Post. Have a good day, people!

Oh, and for the record, these were the macros I was using in my test:

Macro'd 1:1 Auto/Steady:
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/castsequence reset=3 !Auto Shot, Steady Shot
/castrandom [target=pettarget, exists] Kill Command
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();

Macro'd 3:2 Steady/Auto:
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/cast !Auto Shot
/castrandom [target=pettarget, exists] Kill Command
/cast Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();

Monday, August 18, 2008

No Introduction Needed

...and before you ask, no, the Ancient Petrified Leaf did not drop, and Eltanin the Windserpent can tank Ragnaros for nine seconds.

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 7

Intro to Freezing Trap

Greetings, young level 20 hunter! You've just got Freezing Trap which is going to make your life easier!

You may have heard of a mythical thing we like to call "Chain-trapping", i.e., chaining your traps together such that you can keep a mob trapped indefinitely. Now, that is indeed what you are aiming for eventually, but keep in mind that it's not exactly something you'll be doing very much before you get Freezing Trap Rank 3 at level 60. Your traps simply will not last as long. At this point, if somebody asks you to chain-trap in Deadmines or WC, there is no shame in telling them that it's not a good idea.

So what are you going to be using lowbie traps for, then? When solo'ing and leveling, it's very handy for keeping extra mobs out of your hair.

An example situation would go something like this:

You see two mobs standing next to each other. You send your pet in on one. They both aggro on your pet. Now the problem is, that if you just continue this scenario as is (you and your pet both attacking one target), it's very possible that the second guy will pick up on your Mend Pet threat and come running for you.

So what do you do in advance of this situation? You lay a Freezing Trap down at your feet right about the time you send your pet in. If Second Guy comes running for you, he will run into your trap. Usually you can keep him trapped long enough to finish up your first guy.

If your pet is taking a lot of damage you can also purposefully pull one guy into your trap by way of Multi-Shot: that will alert Second Guy to your presence and get him to come running into your trap, so he is off of your pet.

A trap can also be quite handy to give your or your pet some recovery time before you finish up the fight. If you are already both quite wounded after a large pull and you have one guy left, you can trap that guy, pop up a Mend Pet and throw a bandage on yourself, and then finish up the guy in your trap.

Overall, Freezing Traps are one of the most useful tools you have at your disposal as a hunter. Always keep them in mind. They are your main form of crowd control and as you level and get better ranks of Freezing Trap and practice with them... you will learn that a hunter who knows how to trap is a hunter that everybody loves.

Things to Keep in Mind:

-Your trap needs two seconds of "arming time", that is, if you lay down your trap right as a guy is on top of you, you will have to take a hit or two for a couple seconds.

-Once you lay down a trap, it will be active for one minute (before it disappears).

-Damage done to the trapped target will break the trap. That includes DoTs such as Serpent Sting. If you suspect you may possibly be trapping, it is a good idea not to use Serpent Sting. You can, however, use things like Distracting Shot because it doesn't cause damage and will not break your trap.

-Traps have a chance to break early. It's not your fault when that happens, it's just something that you will have to deal with sometimes. Traps can also be resisted entirely, and there are some mobs that are immune to traps.

-Remember to put some space between the trap and you, or the mob will still hit you before getting frozen. Not a big deal when out in the open field, but rather more important in a raid or heroic.

-It is very possible to accidentally break your own trap via Auto Shot. If you have this problem a lot, you may want to look into a Pull Shot macro.

Freezing Traps can be improved (along with all other traps) via Survival talents, which will make chain-trapping easier, but you certainly do not need those talents to be a successful trapper. All it takes a little practice and a little timing. Eventually, as you gain higher ranks of your Freezing Trap, you will be able to start practicing your chain-trapping; but until then, just get a feel for when and how to use your trap.

In closing, I leave you with "Tawyn's Trapathon", a movie I made several months ago (and which you may have already seen, but hey!):

Yes, it has its nub moments, but I wasn't going for anything particularly fancy at the time, I was just FRAPSing one of my routine farming sessions. =P

And I will see you on our next installment of SYWtPaH, when we get to level 30!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hunting is Cheaper than Therapy (-random T-shirt saying)

The other day a good friend of mine told me about a dream he'd had with me in it. He said he and I were just hanging out, and I was messing around on my computer and showing him Linux, but I was talking about it completely via hunter terminology-- "Let's just Auto Shot through this menu," I said in his dream.

From now on, when I put my computer into Standby mode, I'm going to say it's Feigning Death.

Hey, it's only logical!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Old School

So while I've definitely been enjoying my alts (mostly of the hunter variety), I have also found myself logging into Tawyn a lot more often again, lately.

Why? Is it perhaps the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion that has me all excited? Is it getting into the current raids of Burning Crusade?


It's cause Blackrock Mountain is basically the most epic thing Blizzard has ever done. True story.

I went to Molten Core the other week with a bunch of people. Unfortunately it was sort of a hastily put together group, people started leaving more and more as we went on, and we had to call it quits after wiping on... the fourth or fifth boss? Can't remember.

But it was a really neat experience and inspired me to start looking seriously into old-world content. I am a "Burning Crusade Baby" as they say, who waltzed into Outlands at level 58, effectively skipping most of the old Level 60 stuff.

But doing LBRS the other day to get the UBRS key, and aaaaalll the billions of quests involved for that; and now currently doing the quests and the BRD runs for the Onyxia Key... this is when Epic was Epic and when adventuring meant going into a burning lair of fire of brimstone.

Oh, and guess who plays at 8:00pm in BRD?

Sheer coincidence that we happened to be in this room at 7:57pm. It was great.

The interesting thing about these old-world quests, to me anyway, is how memorable they are. So far I have had to take control of a dragon in order to blow fire on a quest object, take secret notes all over Eastern Kingdoms, and rescue a guy from prison and escort him out of BRD while he deadpans lines about his flying fists of fury (and runs into every mob he can without giving you a chance to drink >.>). I think my favorite, though, was when I was sent to a guy in Lakeshire, the same guy who gave me a bunch of quests when I was, oh, level 16 or 17 maybe. "Do I know you? You look familiar," he said.


I can't tell you how far this little old-world excursion is going to take me. In theory, I'd like to hit up all the old raids, in reality, I don't know if that can happen. But the point is, Bear was right. There is a ton of content out there and I dunno about you guys, but I don't raid for the loot. Loot's a fun bonus, but it's not why I still adore Karazhan and try to run it every chance I get even though Be Imba tells me I should be in SSC, and it's not why I want to do the old school raids. It's cause there's adventuring and exploring out there that I haven't done yet.

Oh, and Hunter Tier 3 looks awesome and I must have it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Case for Windserpents

At the risk of sounding horribly banal, I do really like cat pets. Perhaps not as much as The Kitty Collector does, but I still like them a lot. They're classy, come in a lot of varieties of color and overall "type", and they're cute when they stretch and yawn.

But when it comes down to it, I think my favorite pet family may very well be...

The Windserpent.

Windserpents are sleek. They're mystical. They have the whole Quetzalcoatl thing going on. They're sort of like dragons, but sort of like snakes, both of which fall into the "Things I Like" category.

They are tamable by hunters, and each of my "main" hunters has one: Lunapike tamed Arikara, summonable by a quest in Thousand Needles, who retains a lovely quality to bamf in with a poof of smoke when summoned. And Tawyn solo-tamed a ZG Soulflayer in what was quite a little adventure-- I then painstakingly leveled this pet up from 61 to 70 mostly via the Quel'danas dailies.

One thing I have noticed, though, is the amount of people who will ask me why I use Windserpents. I have had comments and e-mails to this effect, and people who approach me in game and, like a parent giving their kid "the talk", gently tell me I should be using a cat or ravager instead.

So I'm here to tell you some stuff about Windserpents and why I use them. There are two big reasons.

1.) I like them. And come on, why are you a hunter? So you can get a pet you like, foshizzle. I do not judge hunters on pet type. You should be using what appeals to you, first and foremost.

2.) There is a point where Windserpents start to out-DPS cats/ravagers/raptors.

"...hold the phone! What did you just say?"

You heard me. I don't know how many of you watched SK-Gaming's Kil'Jaeden Kill Video but you may have noticed that two of the hunter pets in that movie were Windserpents. You may have similarly noticed that a lot of these Black Temple/Sunwell/super-endgame movies involve Windserpent pets. Why do you think this is?

Let's look a little deeper.

The reason why cats/ravagers/raptors do lots of DPS in a raid, is because a.) they have a naturally high damage output, and b.) they have an easily spammable focus dump move in the form of either Claw or Gore, each of which costs 25 focus. Gore has a chance to do double damage on occasion, which is why if you are a min/maxer, ravagers are superior to cats and raptors.

Now let's look at Windserpents. They come with a high natural DPS, but not quite as high as cats/ravagers/raptors. And their focus dump move, Lightning Breath, costs 50 focus rather than 25. So this, at first, puts Windserpents at a distinct disadvantage.

But wait, Lightning Breath does a lot of damage. A lot more than Claw or Gore. And you should see it when it crits.

And if you have points in both Bestial Discipline and Go for the Throat, and you are critting enough, you will reach a point where you will, on average, be feeding your Windserpent enough focus for him to keep spamming Lightning Breath and that is when your Windserpent will begin to out-DPS a ravager.

When you reach this point is somewhat hazy and gear-dependent but it is generally accepted that somewhere between 30%-35% crit your Windserpent should start to pull ahead. If you are a newer or still-leveling hunter, you might think that sounds like a rather forbiddingly high crit chance for a non-Survival hunter. But it's definitely not hard to obtain even in the early raids.

This is me, fully-raid buffed, in my latest Karazhan run:

And that's without a feral druid (extra 5% crit) and without a shaman's Grace of Air totem.

Now, I don't have any numbers or hard proof, but I can tell you that going to Karazhan with Eltanin the Windserpent certainly feels like I am doing a little more DPS than I usually do with Locke the Kitty. Am I really? I don't know, and it's hard to say. A DPS test like this would require much repetition like any science experiment to hammer out some nice solid number averages.

But I do know that Windserpents do a lot of DPS.

And I do know that if you ask me in-game or in an e-mail why on Azeroth I'm using a Winserpent... if it's on Tawyn, it's because when I'm raid-buffed, my Windserpent does just as much DPS as my kitty, if not more, and if it's on one of my lowbie-hunters, it's cause I just plain like Windserpents.

And that, as they say, is that.

(Closing notes: If you are seriously interested in trying out the Windserpent-goodness for yourself, keep a couple things in mind: Firstly, some Windserpents have undesirable "caster" stats, so stay away from those-- Petopia will tell you which is which. Secondly, you may notice certain Macros that include Lightning Breath, you may want to look into those if you are into the whole Macro thing-- it makes it so your Windserpent does not move to cast it. Thirdly, Lightning Breath has been shown to interfere with certain elemental Shaman things, so if you run with one of those, you may want to bring your kitty/bug instead.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 6

Levels 12-20:

So we talked about Hunter 101 last time, right? Alright. Now from here until level 20, you are mostly going to be learning a lot of "filler abilities", in my mind-- stuff that can be useful but which for the most part is not going to be "ZOMG-SUPER-EPIC-HUNTER-STUFF". For that reason, the majority of my hunters (did I mention I've rolled like 17 of them?) get stuck in the levels between 12-20. Once I get past 20 and Aspect of the Cheetah I'm usually on a roll and get more excited about things again.

But I'm ahead of myself. You still learn some stuff in these levels. Let's take a look at them:

Eagle Eye is a move that you learn at level 14. This will zoom up on your vision for quite a distance. Useful for certain quests where you perhaps need to "find the item"; this way you can find out where it is. Similarly handy if you know where you have to go, but want to scope out the dangers beforehand. Also useful in Arathi Basin when you're at Lumber Mill and want to see how many people are guarding Blacksmith.

Eyes of the Beast you also learn at level 14. It lets you temporarily take "control" of your pet and move him around, druid-style. Now, I am going to come right out and say it, and feel free to rebuke me in the comments if I'm missing something epic and obvious: Eyes of the Beast is a party trick. You use it when you're bored and waiting for people to show up at the summoning stone, or when you're on the Deeprun Tram/Arathi Basin before it starts and you want to see how far your pet can run by himself before time runs out.

I'm not going to say it's completely devoid of uses; I can imagine it would be a handy scouting trick if you have a cat with Prowl. And I have actually sacrificed my pet a few times with various Eyes of the Beast strategies that are invariably my partymates' ideas (use him to activate all the bombs in Blood Furnace (that's the one with the bombs right?); use him to pull stuff in Heroic Mech while the rest of us stand at the elevator) but that's about it. If you guys have discovered something super useful with this move, please tell me.

Sorry about all the times I sacrificed you, Locke. =(

Anyways, the other one you learn at 14 is Scare Beast. Scare Beast can be handy for these scary pre-Freezing-Trap days as really your only form of Crowd Control (other than Wing Clip/Concussive Shot), and I often find myself using it frequently in the early levels. Oh, and use it on bear/cat druids in PvP. Much laughter will ensue.

Level 16! Mongoose Bite is a melee attack that you can only use if you successfully dodge an attack. This means that something has to be in melee and hitting you for you to be able to use it. Now I didn't have Mongoose Bite on my action bar for the longest time because I thought it was kind of silly, but then I got an addon which tells me when I can do stuff (such as Kill Command and Mongoose Bite) so I went and found it and put it in some random spot on one of my action bars.

I'm going to say something here that may scare you guys, so feel free to go hide or get a straightjacket or something: I actually kinda like Mongoose Bite. It's highly situational, but I think it is moderately useful. This is when I use it: if a mob is on top of me, strikes at me, and I dodge, and then after that my pet picks up aggro... that's when I use it. I Mongoose Bite while in the process of gaining range (I usually just run straight through the mob; Mongoose Bite on the way). It does a little extra damage and honestly, extra damage can always help.

I do not use it if my pet doesn't have solid aggro on the mob; that's when I use Wing Clip/Feign Death/etc. depending on the situation. And I most certainly do not go melee a mob for the purpose of trying to get a Mongoose Bite in. Bad bad bad.

But if you happen to be in range of the mob and you happen to get a Mongoose Bite in queue, you'd might as well use it.

Immolation Trap
is the other thing you learn at this level; ahhh, your first trap. This trap isn't a CC trap but it does do a lot of damage over time. I tend not to use it in PvE because it will generate a lot of threat which I would rather have on my pet. But it is useful if you are pure-solo and sans-pet for some reason, and I've found it useful sometimes in one-on-one PvP.

At level 18 you learn two things, Track Undead and Multishot. Track Undead is, of course, added to your stable of tracking skills and does exactly what it says it does (Undead players, though, count as Humanoid). Multishot is interesting, let's talk about it a little. If you are a Survival or Marksman hunter, then you may end up using this in your endgame shot rotation. So you may want to take the time to sort of play around with it and get a feel for its odd hidden cast time. For the most part though, I do not use this shot in leveling PvE: you've got plenty of DPS output with Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot alone.

Remember: Multishot will break CC so be especially careful when using this in an instance or similarly delicate situation.

I'ma tell you where Multishot is king though: Epic army on army showdowns in AV. Especially when it crits. Om nom nom.

And ding level 20, congrats! You will learn Aspect of the Cheetah, Disengage, and Freezing Trap.

Aspect of the Cheetah will help you get around faster until you get your mount: remember though that it will cause you to be dazed on hit, so be careful when you use it: it's more of a "travel from place to place" move as opposed to an "escape" move.

Disengage is handy pre-Feign Death for dropping threat; it's kind of a mana hog and requires you to be in melee range, but before level 30 it's basically the best you've got.

Freezing Trap deserves an entry all to itself and will get one in the next installment of SYWtPaH! /bow

In other news, Tawyn is 85 rep points away from being exalted with Stormpike:

The sad thing is, it took her 9376 honor kills to get there. (By contrast, Lunapike has about 3500 honor kills and is halfway through Revered with Frostwolf.) Ohh, Bloodlust Alliance. You are so silly. It's okay though, because the Spirit of Competition Minipet looks AWESOME with my Windserpents:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Fine Art of Feign Death

Ah, Feign Death. Every hunter's best friend. (And if it's not your best friend, you should go give it a /hug and make up with it right now.)

When I was a wee baby hunterling and I first got Feign Death, I was super excited. "OMG yay! Now all those times when I'm dying, I can escape!"

Now, is that a use for Feign Death? Yup. But is that the extent of Feign Death's potential? Oh no, it's not even scratching the surface. I have three hunters now that are a high enough level to know Feign Death, and with each one it's a very happy day when I train it, and with each one the first thing I do is try it out.

Now I know a lot of people are hyped up about Wrath of the Lich King, but until then there are still a lot of hunters out there that need Kindergarten (I see 'em all the time), so let's talk about Feign Death.

When You Should Use Feign Death:
1.) In an instance/raid situation to avoid grabbing aggro from the tank (or your pet, when soloing). This is crucial and at endgame, this is probably when you will be using Feign Death the most. It is vital to get a threat meter and watch your threat. It is also vital to get a feel for gauging your threat without the meter because sometimes it lies. (True story: Omen once told me I was at about 60-70% of the tank's threat on Prince, which I thought gave me plenty of buffer room. Prince disagreed. Raid wiped. Lesson learned.)

Now, the point is to Feign BEFORE you nab aggro. If so, you will be successfully cleared from the threat list and you will be able to unleash the Dee Pee Ess.

And if it resists? Then what?

Then you stop DPS.

Yes, hunter, I just told you to stop DPS. Hit the brakes, slow down, COMPLETELY stop shooting if you have to. Your numbers on the damage meter are not worth the repair bills and wasted time of a potential wipe. It shouldn't take too long for the tank to surpass you by a decent margin again, and once he does, Misdirect onto him. Your Feign Death should be up again before you have to stop DPS again.

2.) If you have already grabbed aggro... So Omen decided to be a poopyhead or maybe you just plain weren't paying attention, or maybe the tank got feared or something like that. Now what you should do here largely depends on the situation (is a wipe incoming, is the tank gone, etc.) but in most cases you will want to run to the tank-- so he can easily snatch aggro back up-- and then Feign. Do not Feign right next to the healer/mage/lock. They will give you dirty looks for the rest of the night and possibly hurl soul shards at you, and those things are pointy.

3.) When things go wrong... What if something horrible happened, the tank dies mid-pull in some Heroic and the mob lunges at you? Well here's where you make a choice and decide if you still have a chance or not. If we've got most everything decently CC'd and a good healer, I'll usually sic my pet on the mob, turn on Growl, pop Intimidation and Mend Pet, and yell out "ALL HEALS ON PET" over Vent. This can work quite well (but seriously, if you're in a Heroic, you will need a good healer for it).

What if people are dying left and right and it's down to you and the squishies? Wellll, things often get a little hazy around here, with different people having different opinions, but I'll tell you what I do. I dunno about you guys, but personally, I feel uncomfortable about having to watch a mob eat the priest while I lay cozily nearby all Feign Death'ed and safe. So even if a wipe is incoming I give it my all anyway, in a last ditch effort to pull off some hunter trick or other, and I don't Feign until the last second. Sometimes I get too daring and the mob ends up waltzing over and handing my butt to me before I can Feign, but hey, I kinda like it that way. I don't go down without a fight. And I've seen some epic stuff happen that way:

Your mileage may vary!

4.) To escape mobs: Often, when you are out in the field, you'll get ambushed by a bunch of mobs and you don't feel like fighting them at the moment. Feign Death works wonders. "But Pike, then they all attack my poor pet!" I know. But if you mount up really quickly after you stop Feigning and skedaddle, you and your pet get away scot-free. Pro tip: If you use Arikara the mobs will get bored and run away right before he makes his flashy entrance and you won't have to worry about it. (Off-topic, but WTB Petopia search for my Firefox Search Bar, PST.)

5.) In PvP: Most people don't fall for your Feign in PvP, but some do. Myself, I use it on hunter/warlock/etc. pets. They send your pet at you, you Feign, their pet runs away, and 95% of the time they fail to send it back after you. (I have often said that I hardly ever lose to other hunters in one-on-one PvP unless they are over 5 levels higher than me. This is one of the big reasons why.* Shhh, I'm trusting you with my secret!) Also useful against the NPCs in AV.

6.) As a party trick: I love going into the middle of some random holiday celebration in Stormwind, having my poor character drink herself into oblivion, then make some sort of statement about not feeling good and... bam! Hit the ground. I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I think it's hilarious.

Well, I hope I have managed to provide a satisfactory run-down of Feign Death and its usefulness. BRK recently wrote up a very good list of tips for WoW bloggers, and one of those tips was "don't worry about your niche". That's nice to know, because it's hard to find a niche as a Beast Master Hunter Blogger with the Jedi Master himself looking over your shoulder, but at the same time, I'd like to think I have managed to make my own niche by providing step-by-step and easy-to-understand guides for newer hunters or newer WoWers. I am always looking for ways to improve though, so as always, leave me your feedback!

* Second biggest reason: they sit there and spend approximately a million and a half years trying to pop off an Aimed Shot while my pet and my instant-cast shots nip hungrily at their cast bar.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

This is Silver Hand

One of my earliest roleplaying memories from way back when I first started playing WoW and wound up on a little server called Silver Hand, was a paladin named Sorox. He was a heavy roleplayer and a nice guy who developed an intense, strictly in-character rivalry with one of my fellow guildies and officers. That really stuck to me at the time. I was a new player and a new roleplayer, and here was this crazy rivalry that continued to manifest itself through the months. That, I thought, was pretty awesome, and certainly inspired me to start tentatively roleplaying myself. He had other characters, too, and while I never knew him as well as many others, to say that I knew of him and respected him as a fellow roleplayer and a good person would be an understatement.

Today, I heard some horrible news. By way of a fluke accident, he had wound up in the hospital, in a coma. The entire server had him in their collective thoughts and prayers... but it was not to be, and he passed away.

So when I learned of a memorial walk to be held in his honor, I went.

We all did.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
across Northrend's bright and shining snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
on Westfall's fields of golden grain.
I am in the morning hush,
of Stranglethorn's jungle, green and lush.
I am in the drums loud and grand,
the thunderous hooves across Nagrand.
I am the stars warmly gleaming,
over Darnassus softly dreaming.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
-Alicia's Poem

My fellow Silver Handers who I have linked this to, I did not know Ryan as well as I would have liked. But the seeing the community get together like this was simply amazing. And for that, I thank you.

This is Silver Hand, and this is WoW.

-Tawyn < Entelechy >

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

"That's not a promising beginning."
"It may get better."

I can't remember if it was an Easter gift or a birthday gift, but I do know that when I was eight years old my parents got me a journal. It was white with balloons on the front and it came with a little cheapy lock and key, and it was all for me to write my thoughts in.

I'm not sure where that journal went, it's probably stashed away somewhere, but it was the first in a series of blank books which I filled with my thoughts. Off and on I have been journaling since then, sometimes going months without writing anything, other times faithfully writing several times a week for a year or more. In those books I have countless records of the time I spent with my friends, books I'd read, movies I'd seen, and what I'd done lately in school. I carefully recorded my fears, too, when I would have to move to a new school or give a speech in front of class.

But another thing has always been there too, in all those hundreds of journal entries. I wrote about video games.

I wrote about the new ones we got. I wrote about how far I got that day in a new game. I wrote about what levels were "impossible". I wrote about characters I liked. I wrote about characters I hated. *cough*Navi*cough*. I would giggle at funny things that happened in game. And I triumphantly recorded the times I would do something like make a new track record in Uniracers (which I do believe I dedicated an entire entry to, once.)

...[I] found a new secret and return as the sure master of Uniracer track Hairpin Hill. The odds were against me as I chose to give Champion Uni Goldwyn a 3-second head start. But I ended up making records instead! First, a tie with both Uni (Goldwyn) and Someone (former record holder), then, three more races completely killed the time. So... the track record for Hairpin Hill is no longer 0:11:91 a lap, as it's been for a year now... but 0:11:88, made today.

- March 28, 1997

Pokemon devoured my soul in the late 90s (I've said it before and I'll say it again: this is a girl who skipped some of her high school classes... high school... to go watch "Pokemon: The First Movie" in the theater) and every day I would write in my journal and update my progress in the game. I gave each of my Pokemon a different personality and I became ever so attached to them, even writing from "their" point of view sometimes. I'll never forget the day the Game Boy batteries died mid-saving, which wiped my file. I cried, and wrote a heartfelt memorial entry for my beloved lost pixels in my journal. (*brief moment of silence for Aspen the Venusaur and company*) But, undeterred, I started a new file. Many new files after that. And kept writing.

Alright, I need an opinion: should I, or should I not restart my Zelda file! I mean, I'm getting really bored here. But anyway: Exactly eight days ago I bought... Pokemon Trading Card Game! And five days later... I beat it! Isn't that sad? I mean, Pokemon Red I beat in 17 days. Zelda... about 21. But really? Five days?

- June 28, 2000

At some point, about four or five years ago, I stumbled across Livejournal and started journaling my life online. The stresses and adventures of college and my jobs were the main focus by this point, but I still wrote about video games. This time, though, I was realizing I had more to say than I used to, and not all my friends who read my Livejournal even played many video games. Some did, though, of course, and appreciated my entries on them.

New Super Mario Bros. is amazing. It's new and innovative but it also feels so familiar. I know I'm going to have a blast playing it. And the mini-games are all so very unique... they have this one where you have to blow into a microphone to control Yoshi's flight (he's attached to balloons), but you have to be careful not to blow too hard too fast or he might run into a Shy-Guy. It's so different; I love it. I really think Nintendo is on to something with this kind of stuff, and if they can really channel this uniqueness into the Wii and "grow into it", so to speak... then, well, I think they've got a winner.

- January 1, 2007

Early last year I installed World of Warcraft and made a hunter named Tawyn. I sucked. I like to tell people of my first infamous instance run, the Deadmines where Tux was on aggressive, Immolation Trap was my "CC", and I rolled Need on everything. Very fitting for my 6/8/3 talent spec. Night Elf Huntard, thy name is Newbie-Pike. Fortunately, I acknowledged my horribleness, and resolved to fix it. That's when I hit up WoWWiki, devoured the hunter articles there, and from the Fansites section discovered The Hunter's Mark and BigRedKitty. I read both voraciously, "cover-to-cover" in fact, and read the comments as well. Heck, if you look hard enough you can find my very first step into this WoW blogging community, a comment I left on The Hunter's Mark, where a young Pike said something along the lines of "I am a level 26 hunter and I suck, thank you so much for your helpful videos and guides."

The months went by and I was beginning to have more thoughts on WoW and things I wanted to say about it, some of which I did share on LiveJournal, but I didn't want to clutter up my journal which stuff I figured few people over there would want to read. So off I went to Blogger. Where I could ramble about WoW and nobody would ever have to read it. Oh look, it's asking me for a name for my new blog... hmm... I like hunters... it should be huntery, but also personal... Aspect of the... Hare? Because the hare is my mascot animal?

...sounds good to me.

And so on August 7, 2007, one year ago today, I made my first blog post.

And for some reason, I kept writing. I was my only reader, but I wrote anyway. I didn't even link to any other blogs because I didn't want anyone to wonder who this silly little upstart newbie blog was and why I was linking to them. BRK and Lass, I figured, were so far out of my league that linking to them would be some form of desecration, so I simply refrained from doing it.

And yet somehow, Kestrel found me and left a comment, and linked to me.

And then somehow more people found me. And linked to me.

And I noticed that these people seemed to enjoy my writing for some strange reason... so I kept doing it.

...and to make a long story short, here we are today. As of the time of writing, my blog clocks in at 214 posts, 49,285 visits and 81,859 page views; with an average of 362 visits a day, and another 360+ subscribing to my feed. I have been Dugg and StumbledUpon and linked to on all manner of sites and forums. BRK and Lass, who I idolized with such bright young eyes when I was a baby hunter, have both added me to their blogroll (which still boggles the mind), as have many others. And in perhaps my favorite twist of things coming full circle... somebody added me to the very WoWWiki Fansites page that introduced me to the WoW blogging community in the first place.

Ya know what makes it all great though? The numbers and the inlinks are mind-blowing, but it's you guys that make Aspect of the Hare what it is. It's you guys that read and visit for whatever crazy reason you do. You guys that make it all worth it. Because for every time I get ribbed for liking hunters or for making a hunter blog, there are about a dozen comments or e-mails from you guys telling me that I've inspired you to install Linux, or re-ignited your long lost love for the hunter class, or taught you to play better, or that you've linked a new hunter to me. I have striven to make a site where us crazy-hunter-lovers can hang out and chat and commiserate without having to worry about the people who /point and /giggle and don't quite "get it". And I'd like to think I have succeeded at least on some small level. But I couldn't have done it without you guys.

Thank you.

Thank you from the girl who, after all these years, still finds herself yapping away about video games.

On to another year?

*Guess the Trek! Doooo it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Life, the Universe, and Everything

The other night I was talking to the significant other, and an interesting topic of discussion came up. He has been casually leveling another warlock (I guess class obsession runs in the family?) and I asked him what would hypothetically happen, roleplaying-wise, if this new warlock and his level 70 warlock were to meet. What would they talk about? How would they get along?

His response was that he had a difficult time envisioning that happening, because they reside on different servers-- and thus, different universes of the same continuum. Same stage, different players, so to speak.

I thought, "huh".

And I realized that I am like that too.

When I first started Lunapike, my original story for her was that she had met Tawyn before, in passing (when Lunapike was still very young), and that it sort of subtly influenced her in her quest to become a hunter. But it wasn't long before that story completely dissipated. Why? Easy. Tawyn and Lunapike are on different servers. They can't meet.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I'd sort of unconsciously divided all my characters like that. Whether Alliance or Horde, even if the characters live in the same city, I had always assumed that different servers = different parallel universes and that characters on one server could not know characters on another.

Anyways, we started to talk about why, and my suggestion was that as you spend a lot of time on a certain server, you get to know it very intimately. There are things that set a server apart and make it what it is. Certain guilds. Certain players and personalities. Even server-wide RP storylines. When you go to another server, and you don't run into those familiar things, it strikes you as being a place that is familiar, but different-- a parallel universe, to use fantasy/sci-fi terminology. This is perhaps one reason why I have a hard time playing Alliance on anything but Silver Hand and a hard time playing Horde on anything but Venture Co., but it also means that I do in fact see servers as being different, but similar, planes of existence and the idea of characters on different servers interacting with each other does seem innately "wrong" somehow.

I would be curious to know if anybody else feels this way, too. Roleplayers, non-roleplayers, one and all, tell me your thoughts. Do you envision characters of yours on different servers as being able to theoretically "meet", or do you experience the same mental halting at the idea that the boy and I do?

Monday, August 4, 2008

So You Want to Play a Hunter? Part 5

Life With a Pet:

So now you've got a pet. Excellent! Now you get to learn about what I have long called Hunter 101: Send your pet in, let it establish aggro, and attack from a distance.

You guys have no idea how many hunters I've seen who will pull aggro from their pet early on and proceed to melee the mob down. Usually they're Marksmanship spec'd too, which is possibly the most irrational thing I've ever heard. "I'm going to spec to buff my Ranged Attack Power and then melee stuff!" /facepalm

Here's the thing: can you melee stuff? Yeah, if you want. But do you do more damage and kill things quicker if you're at range and shooting? Yep!

First thing's first: make sure your pet knows Growl. All pets can learn Growl first thing, without any training points. Open your spellbook, and in the General tab (for some reason) is Beast Training. You can open that up to get to your pet's training screen, where you can teach your pet Growl. Growl is sort of like a Taunt, but while it does not force something to attack your pet, it does cause a fair amount of threat. Now make sure Growl is "on" and has the little glowing box around it on your pet bar.

NOW you can practice Hunter 101! Hunter's Mark something, send your pet in on it*, let it plant a growl or two, and then start shooting. Open with a Serpent Sting and then mostly Auto Shot. You can toss an Arcane Shot in if you want. Your mob should be down pretty quickly, though.

"Pike, that's the easiest thing I've heard in the game. I could be AFK most of the time and still level a hunter."

Theoretically, yes you can, and that's why hunters get bashed all the time and why I still have to put up with people asking me why I'm making a help blog for hunters because clearly a help blog for hunters needs to consist of only one sentence. The thing you have to remember, and which you will hopefully see as true as I continue this series of posts, is that most of these people never played a hunter past the early levels and thus never got to the point where hunters begin to get deeper and more difficult. Heck, I personally have encountered many people who have a level 70 hunter (and are skilled at it) and a level 70 [other class], who have confided to me that they feel their hunter is deeper and takes more skill to play correctly, regardless of what their other class was.

This goes back to part one, you have to remember that you will get bashed and you will be underestimated and it will look like you are doing nothing in an instance (I've actually noticed that lately; hunters tend to simply look like they have it easy just by standing back and shooting; this probably adds to the reputation as well.) You have to be okay with that and find your own pride in your class.

...anyways, forgive my, erm, tangent *cough*

The point is that Hunter 101 is pretty straightforward, which is why it mystifies me that so many hunters do not know it yet! Here is the basic thing you want to remember: keep yourself at range.

Now, while we're here, another thing you may or may not want to change is your pet's "stance". It's on the pet bar, and your pet will be set to Defensive by default (it looks like a shield). Myself and many other hunters will immediately set their pet to Passive (it looks like a baby seal). Defensive means that your pet will automatically attack things that are attacking you, and Passive means that he does nothing without you telling him first.

Now, I have seen people make arguments that Defensive is better for leveling/solo'ing, and I can understand where they're coming from, but my Always-Passive argument stems from the fact that I believe hunter and pet are One and they can only accomplish being One like this if you have complete control over your pet. On top of that, I strongly feel that an important aspect of being a hunter is being able to plan ahead and calculate things out precisely: "I'm going to chain trap this mob and Wing-Clip/Kite this other mob and my pet will focus on this other mob. I want to take out the mob I am kiting second." But if your pet is on Defensive, he is quite likely to ignore your plans and lunge for your chain-trapped mob who is on his merry way to your next trap.

See? Out of your control. You are not One because he is not doing what you want. This is why my pets across all my hunters are Forever-Passive (I make an exception for running lowbies through instances, in which case I stick my pet on Defensive and run through shooting everything while he cleans up behind me).

Now am I going to knock you for having your pet on Defensive while leveling/soloing? Well no, I do feel strongly that the other way is better and more huntery, but there are certainly good arguments for it. I will knock you for having your pet on anything but Passive in an instance/raid, but that's another story!

So you've got Growl trained, and you've thought about it and set your pet to the Stance that you want. Oh, and check the little icon next to your pet. Is it green? That means he's happy and will do the most damage. Keep him fed to keep that icon green! (Petopia will tell you what pet likes what foods.)

Go ye forth, young hunter, and level!

You are level 10, you will now have both Track Humanoids and Track Beasts; use whichever you need for whatever you are doing. You have Aspect of the Hawk which is going to be your primary Aspect from here on out and you should be using it most of the time.

At level 12, you learn Mend Pet, which is very important! You may want to keybind it to something easy to hit, I know I have. This is where you will learn to keep an eye on your pet's health. You know how when you're driving you'll glance at the rear-view mirror every so often just to take stock of your surroudings? Same with your hunter and your pet; you will learn to glance at your pet's health every so often, gauge how much damage he is taking or is liable to take, and use Mend Pet accordingly.

You also learn Wing Clip and Distracting Shot at level 12. Distracting Shot you won't use very much in the lower levels, but Wing Clip is your friend. It is really the only thing you should be using if something is in melee range. The point of Wing Clip isn't to do damage; it's to slow the enemy down so you can get back into range. You will learn to love it throughout the duration of your hunter career.

And it's usually at this point that I figure one of my new hunters has all the tools they need to be a reasonably efficient hunter. You have Arcane Shot and Concussive Shot for kiting; you have a pet for tanking and Mend Pet to keep him alive, and you have Wing Clip if a mob gets too close. Now obviously you don't have everything important yet, you don't have Feign Death or Steady Shot, but I still see level 12 as being one of your first big milestones.

And so, that's where I'm going to end today's episode of SYWtPaH. Your homework: practice Hunter 101 and look into getting a Threat Meter so you can learn to watch your threat in relation to your pet's-- you want your pet's threat to be higher than yours, so he can tank for you. KTM was the big one back in the day, though it seems to now be defunct-- Omen is the current threat meter of choice but a lot of people I know swear by the up-and-coming Diamond which doesn't require other people to have a threat meter installed for them to show up. Either of those latter two will work fine for you, though, as a new hunter who is solo'ing and learning about pet threat., there really is a lot of stuff to cover about hunters. Case in point: We're at Part 5 and level 12. Now I'm pretty sure things are going to speed up as we continue on and need to hit less of the basics, but still, this is a bigger project than I even anticipated. I hope that you are enjoying it and learning from it and as always let me know if you have questions or need something clarified.

Happy hunting!

* Awesome Macro of Epic Win:

/cast Hunter's Mark

It does both at once, and I don't go anywhere without it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hunters Just Wanna Have Fun

On Friday I sort of got unexpectedly pulled into a semi-guild/semi-PuG Karazhan run. At first, I was admittedly kinda wary about it. Mostly because the last few semi-guild/semi-PuG runs I've been in have been complete disasters and I was tired of dealing with feeling like a failure in the raid I love. Still, I went, because I haven't gone in a long time.

It was... a surprisingly good run. Shade of Aran was the farthest we got because we were sorta taking our sweet time and people had to go, but I did successfully see Nightbane downed for the first time ever, which means I have gone back and edited him into my Karazhan guide, video and all! (FileFront instead of YouTube this time, because the YouTube limit is ten minutes and I couldn't cut our movie down past about 10:30.)

Overall though, it was nice to be able to go back to the place and do it justice; it's been so long since I've been in there with a good group. Oh, raid-buffed, I topped both 2000 AP and 30% crit throughout /flex Not bad for someone who still has a few blues. (Though in all honesty, Badge Epics do crazy gear-score-skewing things like that.)

I did learn a couple lessons. Lesson the First: Using crazy tricks to unfairly defeat bosses sucks. See, we ran into Shade of Aran the first time and did quite well, getting him down to 15% and only wiping because of bad timing with the elementals. On our way back, one of our PuGs asks us if we've heard of "The Door Trick". The Door Trick goes like this: you all stand right outside the door, and a hunter sends their pet in to aggro Aran and then they immediately pull their pet back. The door shuts (with everyone standing outside) and you trigger the encounter, and basically all you have to worry about is Flame Wreath because all his other stuff stays inside the room. Aran himself mostly stays inside the room, too, but every so often he comes outside for a little and you DPS him until he disappears again.

We tried it. About five minutes later Officer Chat was filled with all of us talking about how heinously boring this was (because at this point he was only down to like 95%) and how we were never going to it this way again.

The "Door Trick" actually wound up failing because a fellow player and I somehow managed to get knocked off the ledge outside his door where we fell to our deaths, and I think that reset the encounter. At this point we were all begging the PuG to just do it the normal, fair way, and she obliged (although she seemed somewhat mystified by how we'd rather have wipes and repair bills over a "safer" method; maybe we're the only people she's run into that are like that?) Seriously though, don't do the Door Trick, it's lame and takes forever.

Lesson the Second is that during the run, the fact finally sunk in that I am super burnt-out with Tawyn. There are a couple reasons why I never log onto her anymore, one of those reasons is admittedly my work schedule but another reason is because I honestly do not find her as fun to play as my alts right now. Don't get me wrong; I love raiding and heroics and level 70 Alterac Valley* but after a few months of it, it has burned me out. The whole time we were in Karazhan I was thinking "Huh, this is pretty fun, I still love Kara, but... I'd really rather be playing one of my alts."

Which leads me to believe that Tawyn is either going to get unofficially or officially stabled until WotLK. I still view her as my main and I have no doubt that she will be my first character to level 80, but I'm just not feelin' the spark right now. Currently I'm trying to decide if I want to make an "official" post about it on the guild forums and attempt to pass of guild leadership, or keep going as I've been going and log on to her super-casually once or twice a week.

What does this realization about myself mean for you? Nothing, I still love the game and hunters and will continue to write about them just as I always have, I'll probably just focus more on alts. As for what it means for me, I'm still trying to decide. My pre-WotLK goals have always been clear Karazhan (just Netherspite left) so I can finish my guide, see Gruuls/Mags, and finally get Epic'd out. But at this point, seeing how burnt out I am with that character, I think I may only get around to clearing Kara. But... that's okay. I guess we'll see what happens.

In closing, does anyone know of a good way to measure personal DPS? I'm curious about it and my damage meter (SWStats) is silly.

* It's AV weekend and I actually am feeling this urge to spec something more PvP-worthy and spend the day in there. Hey, last time I was in there, Alliance had finally learned how to cap towers, all we need now is to learn how to tank Drek! Right? Right? Bueller?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Gone Fishin'

I was at work today, stationed at my usual spot by all the fish (I work in a pet store), and this kid of, oh, about ten or twelve years old or so and his buddy were walking up and down the area, inspecting all the fish and pointing out all the cool ones. Then the first kid stopped in his tracks, and I saw him staring rather intently at our Red Zebra Cichlids...

After staring at them for a minute or two, the kid turned to his buddy and exclaimed "Look! Look! I found the Golden Darters !!"