Tuesday, April 24, 2012

June's Uber Basic Beginner's Guide To Huntering Part 1

I have been toying with the idea of writing a very basic hunter guide for those who have just started playing the hunter class, and as I am in the process of levelling my second hunter, I figured it's a nice oppurtunity to pen down some tips and tricks for those who are completely new to this wonderful class!

This guide will be extremely basic, without much of the number-crunching stuff since my theorycrafting skills aren't that great - some things are much better left to the experts. ;-)

In this part, I'll try to cover some of the basics from levels 1-15: we'll take a look at what a hunter does, a basic hunter's rotation, talent specs, pets and hunter stats. So let's get started!

What does a hunter do besides shooting at things from a distance?
Hunters are primarily ranged DPS. We are also pretty good at crowd controlling, setting traps and snaring or silencing enemies.

Next to that, hunters provide awesome buffs for parties and raids from our spec and pets which we can easily switch around, depending on the situation. Also, hunters are naturally handsome and badass. It is general knowledge that:
"Hunters have smoldering good looks by nature, that reduces the opposite gender to a quivering pile of desire. Sometimes the same gender too. We just look that good. It’s a blessing and a curse, except not actually at all curse-like"
For more basic info on hunter stats, focus, hunter races and pets, this page covers a lot of the basics.

Shots and abilities in the first few levels
At level 1, you start out with Arcane Shot and your trusty pet. Arcane Shot will, for most of your levelling career, be one of the more hard hitting spells, but, as it costs 25 focus just to fire one - that's a quarter of your total focus - it is not an ability you will want to use endlessly. That's where Steady Shot, available at level 3, comes in. The shot doesn't do as much damage as Arcane Shot, and it has a cast time of  2 seconds, but each Steady Shot you cast restores 9 focus, making it an awesome "filler-shot" you'll want to use inbetween high damaging shots.

At a later stage, from level 15 upwards or so, you will want to mix up your Arcane Shots (and specialization-signature shots, depending on what spec you choose to play) with your Steadies, to keep your damage up while regenerating enough focus to cast your more fancy shots.

This is where we can see the beginning of a basic hunter rotation!

While there isn't really a strict shot-rotation every hunter should abide to - in the end, your rotation really depends on your spec, playstyle, whether you PvE or PvP, any fight mechanics and so on - a simple, basic PvE hunter rotation goes something like this:

Hunter's Mark: you only have to apply it once (available at level 14)
Serpent Sting (available at level 10)
Signature Shot
If  you have enough focus, Arcane Shot
Steady Shot
Steady Shot
Signature Shot

Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

You will always want to have Hunter's Mark up on your target, as it lasts pretty long (5 minutes) and increases your attack power (= more dps). The second shot you'll always want to use in your rotation is Serpent Sting. Serpent Sting is a DoT, a spell that ticks damage over time while you are firing off other shots. After that, your shooting priority are the spells that deal the most damage, usually followed by an Arcane Shot - if you have focus to spare. To restore focus, throw in a couple of Steady Shots - especially if you are Markmanship and have Improved Steady Shot talented, as it makes you shoot faster.

Talent Specializations
At level ten, you will get to choose to play either as Markmanship (MM), Survival (SV) or Beast Mastery (BM) - each with its own signature shot and special abilties.
What's the difference between the three?

Generally, as a BM hunter, you will have more spells to command your pet, like Kill Command and Intimidation. You also get to tame Exotic Beasts like Spirit Beasts.

A Survival hunter excels at AoE (Area of Effect, meaning, multiple targets) damage and building up its damage over time with DoTs (such as Serpent Sting or Explosive Shot).

A MM hunter is very good at bursting high damage through cooldowns, especially with the MM talent Readiness. The spec also relies more on physical (weapon) damage than DoTs or pet commands.

There isn't really a "good" or "bad" hunter levelling spec. I personally preferred levelling as BM as I've mainly levelled through questing (BM has some pretty awesome pet tanking abilities that work well for questing) but in the end it all comes down to your playstyle, the way you choose to level, etc. There are many hunter talentpoint guides out there but the main thing is to just go for talents you think are useful to the way you play, so if you mainly PvP you go for more survivability and so on.

Every pet belongs to one of the three pet talent trees, FerocityCunning and Tenacity, each with its own special and unique abilities. As you level up, your pet gets talent points to help improve those abilities and to learn new ones.

The three pet specs are:
  • Ferocity: Ferocity pets are mainly specced for dealing damage and are usually used in raids and dungeons.
  • Cunning: Cunning pets have snare, stun and crowd-control abilities that are very useful for PvP and levelling. They also do pretty good damage.
  • Tenacity: Pets belonging to the tenacity tree are tanking pets - they do a lower amount of damage than Ferocity or Cunning pets, but are better at absorbing damage and reducing threat. Tenacity pets are great for soloing and questing.
At level ten, you get to tame most animals with Tame Beast (providing that they can be tamed and are not a higher level than you). You can cast Beast Lore to see if the creature you wish to tame can be tamed or not. I personally like going for a Ferocity pet in dungeons and raids, and a Tenacity pet for questing and soloing stuff.

Every beast has its own Special Ability that provide extra bonuses next to basic attacks and talented abilities. For a complete list of all Special Abilities, go here. For a list of all the pets in-game, go to this website.

Hunter stats
As a hunter, your main stat is Agility. Agility increases your damage and chance to crit. As you progress further into the game, you will also need secondary stats like hit, crit and haste - at a later stage will we look into stats and their importance - for now, in the lower levels it's the leather gear with agility you will want to have.

So far the first few basics. In the next part, we'll have a look at PvP, where to quest, and more. Any suggestions for the Beginner's Guide? Would you like to see specific things covered? Let me know!


  1. Nice post. :)

    How would you recommend for a new hunter to move about while fighting? (Beginner tooltips says to move with WASD, but everyone else say keyboard-turning is bad.) And what about key bindings for the young aspiring ones? :)

    I'm hung up in UI's and keybinds nowadays...


  2. Hey Lae, sorry for my delayed response!
    To be honest, I don't think there's one true way of moving around. I have been keyboard turning for a long time until I found mouse turning easier. I tend to move with WAS myself, and build some shots around the keys in order to make moving plus shooting easier - going forward I almost exclusively use my mouse. But then again I have heard stories of people who use numpad-turning, arrow turning - and they manage just fine.

    What UI are you using by the way= been looking for a good hunter one for ages!