Each week, Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the hunter class sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.In case you haven't noticed, WoW Insider management has finally capitulated to the letters, emails, mass-marketing campaigns, sky-writings, bags of flaming poo on the stoop, and torch-bearing crowds that have been pelting the BigRedKitty doors with week-old nachos requesting, nay demanding, more than hunter-specific class columns. You got 'em now, so a hearty BRK Congratulations to your non-violent overthrow of the ruling class. WooT for revolution!
It's the Big Pet Column this week and for many of you it's about frickin' time. We get daily garbage-barge deliveries of email asking pet-related questions. So many, in fact, that this subject hits #2 on our:
Top Ten List of BRK's Most Commonly-Received Questions, Comments, and Threats
10. Where did you get that blue cat? (He's purple... he's a purple cat).
9. Can I have just one gold and then will you run me through Deadmines and then will you show me where my trainer is and then will you level my toon for me and then will you call me when he's about to take on Gruul so I can do that myself?
8. Would you please write another BRK-Self-Flame so I can steal it?
7. You have single-handedly inspired me to roll a hunter.
6. You have single-handedly inspired me to quit WoW and play EQ2.
5. Would you please do a talent and gear review of my armory profile? (Dude has T4 and other purple gear and makes us totally jealous).
4. Hey BRK-man! Check my hot stuff out! (Dude is level 55 and wearing all-leather with +Strength, dual-wielding daggers with Icy and Fiery enchants, and his pet is a level 42 Tallstrider).
3. A hunter will never top a geared and experienced rogue/fire mage/destruction warlock/shadow priest/fury warrior/totem-slinging shaman in damage in a end-game raid, I don't care how many DamageMeter screenshots you post on your stinkin' blog that show otherwise.
2. I've been using a bear since level 10 and am wondering what other pets you recommend?
1. Um... can Hobbes come over and play? (We keep telling Amanna and her feral druid "companions" that Hobbes has a schedule that is totally booked, but she is hard-headed).
The subject of Hunter Pets is wide and varied. Indeed, there are websites and blogs devoted exclusively to this sub-genre and one can get lost trying to absorb all the information available. So let's break down some of our favorite pet classes and give some reasons why we believe they are the schiznit.
Cats - The "Everybody and Their Uncle Has One" Pet
Just like Mojo Nixon said about Elvis, cats are everywhere. Seemingly hundreds of colors, styles, sizes, and temperaments. Do you want a cat as your level 10 pet? They're there. Do you want to pick up a new cat once you reach level 70? They're there too, and everywhere in between.
Cats really are everywhere. Ironforge, Ogrimmar, Shattrath City, they are seemingly used by 98.4% of all hunters.
OK, so we made up that number. We don't have any hard data, no real statistics. But you get the point; cats are popular. Cats are ridiculously popular. If that bothers you and you cannot find a cat special enough to tickle your fancy, there are many other fabulous choices.
Boars - The "Tough-as-Nails and Super-Handy" Pet
If there is a more loyal pet owner than a boar-runner, we haven't met him. Not as much damage as a cat, but much more health and armor. When asked if his cat can off-tank, a hunter will say, "Depends on the mob." A boar-owning hunter will simply say, "Yeah."
Boars in PvP are as ubiquitous as rogues using stealth. They have Charge which combines a super-fast closing rate with a stun effect. This talent will keep the enemy at range for a longer period of time, which makes the hunter's job of eliminating that enemy much simpler. During our PvP days, we sometimes used a boar from the Eastern Plaguelands, a Plagued Swine. Ugliest pet in the entire pet-universe, she made Princess Theradras in Maraudon seem date-worthy. So of course, we named our boar Pretty.
The huge honkin' problem with boars is that there just aren't any around in the Burning Crusade. Once you leave Azeroth, you leave boar-lands. So don't skip trying a boar before coming to Outland or you'll never know if you're missing out on your favorite pet.
Ravagers - The "That Thing is a Pet?" Pet
What Outland lost with boars it gains with Ravagers. Blizz really came though with this pet and we should all send them a nice gift of thanks. Perhaps another petition for more stable slots would be appropriate.
With its Gore spell, this pet will out-DPS a cat over time. It is a bit more fragile than a cat so just because it looks like it could survive a nuclear explosion don't forget to treat it with some kid-gloves.
We love Hobbes because he has so much personality. He yawns, stretches, and roars and we feel an attachment to him. Personally, we couldn't grow attached to a Ravager if you strapped it on our back. But it's a freakin' spiffy pet and if his attitude and charm speak to you, this is a fabulous DPS-pet.
Gorillas - The "Smug Hunter" Pet
We use the term "smug" as an affectation, not disparagingly, because of the hardships a gorilla-owning hunter must go through to get a these pets to 70. Gorillas are found, at their highest level, in Ungoro Crater. They are in the low 50's and running one of these bad-boys to 70 is a testament to a hunter's perseverance. They have a ridiculously finicky diet. They don't have the best DPS, armor, or health. They aren't varied in colors. The barely have any redeming qualities that make them worth any effort at all.
But they do have Thunderstomp*, one of the two true AoE attacks hunters can brandish, and that makes them so worthwhile. This bad boy doesn't just aggro, it stuns all mobs in a radius. Send a Gorilla into a Flag Train in Warsong Gulch and bring it to a halt. Send him against a gang guarding a flag in Alterac Valley or Arathi Basin and give your attacking force a nice first-shot advantage.
But drop a Thunderstomp on a sheeped-mob in an instance and that mage is gonna spew foul invectives in your general direction. Watch out with your bad gorilla-self and you too can practice saying, "Yeah, I leveled Magilla to 70. Where did you get your 70 cat again? Skettis? Pfft."
Wind Serpents - The "Marksman's-Buddy" Pet
For those of you who haven't made the connection, your pet casts spells. Yup, Claw, Bite, Thunderstomp, all these are spells. When you look at your pet's Character Pane, you will see a +Spell Damage section. (Note: It's not always exactly this value as each spell has a +Spell Damage Coefficient, but don't worry too much about this now.) This is added to every spell-attack your pet makes. Where does your pet's +Spell Damage bonus come from? Your hunter's Ranged Attack Power.
The Wind Serpent has a spell called Lightning Breath. It's a nature-damage attack against a single target and it was heavily buffed by the pet's +Spell Damage. A few patches ago, the Wind Serpent had a really good scale-factor for +Spell Damage and Lightning Breath. If you had a high RAP, your wind serpent's +Spell Damage was phenomenal. Marksmen hunters, with their 2000+ RAP, would grab a wind serpent and let the Lightning Breath Goodness flow. The Warcraft forums were filled with joyous hunters singing the wind serpent's praises. "Hallelujah!" They cried! "A pet just for us! Oh happy day!"
So of course Blizz nerfed it. With authority.
A wind serpent's +Spell Damage doesn't scale as well as it used to, but it it is a great pet nevertheless. Want a winged pet that won't upset tanks? Want a high-DPS pet that isn't a frickin' cat and doesn't look like it was put together by leftover pieces from a tinkertoy box? Get a wind serpent, you won't be disappointed.
Carrion Birds - The "If Your Guild Allows Big Winged Pets, This Is the One To Get" Pet
Guilds have a healthy fear of winged pets for multiple reasons, but the primary one is that they have Screech. Besides lowering the melee attack power of the mob that gets a Screech right in the face, Screech is the other AoE attack available to hunter and it does its job very well. What does this mean for instances? It means every time your bird drops a Screech, every mob within 5 yards takes damage and will break most forms of crowd control. Yes, that spells Bad Hunter.
But Screech is the most powerful aggro spell you can train. It is great for Survival hunters who can crit a mob off of any other pet quickly. So let's say your GM is hunter-friendly and allows you to bring your flying pet - Screech off except when explicitly required - and you've got your pick of the three big-winged flying pets: Bats, Owls, and Carrion Birds. Which should you choose?
The Carrion Bird is your winged-pet-of-choice. Both the owl and the bat are more DPS-focused with less armor and more white damage than the Carrion Bird. However, the purpose for having a winged pet is for Screech. You're going to be asking this thing to tank or off-tank. What's more important for a tank: DPS or armor? You got it. If you want Screech, get the Carrion Bird; it's best built to maximize that spell's effectiveness.
Warp Hunters - The "It Warps, What Else Do You Need?" Pet
Warp Hunters eat fruit. Why do they attack us if they want peaches and pears? Do they smell our lunch? Nobody has answered that to our satisfaction yet. But onwards.
Technically, the family is called Warp Stalkers. Never train this variant though, always train the Hunter version because the Stalker has lower base stats when trained than the Hunter. When you train the Warp Hunter, its name will change to Warp Stalker, so don't let that freak you out.
Warp is a super spell; we love it. The fact that it's cooldown is only 30 seconds is what makes it so useful. In certain situations we have kept our pet beside us so that he can be used as an Emergency Squishy Lifesaving Device. If the priest gets aggro, send Hobbes with Bestial Wrath and Intimidation and squishy is saved. However, if Hobbes is attacking a mob 40 yards away and his Dash is on cooldown, he might not make it to the priest in time before there's priest guts on the instance floor.
With Warp, our Warp Hunter can be attacking a mob and just, Pop! appear beside the priest instantly. Felreaver, the BRK Warp Hunter, is primarily used as an off-tank albeit infrequently. The only problem with him is that if he is warping to a moving mob, he will appear 2-3 yards behind it and not really grab aggro too quickly. Against stationary targets Felreaver is a champ, but moving targets are troublesome. It's something to seriously investigate should you choose to get a Warp Hunter.
Wolves - The "It's As Close To a Dog As I Can Get" Pet
Wolves have a party buff, Furious Howl, which is super-duper. It has the same characteristics as a carrion bird which means it can be employed in just about any role. Wolves are available at all levels and in many colors. They eat basically anything. It's no-nonsense and low-maintenance and many people consider it the anti-cat pet.
The problem with wolves is that since they are good in all areas, they are great in none. There are better PvP pets, DPS pets, and tanking pets. If all we were allowed were one pet, a wolf would be a fabulous choice. Since we can have three, we can have a pet specifically built to maximize their effectiveness in each situation.
We advocate that that wolves are nice but not necessary. But if there's room in your stable for an all-purpose pet, a wolf is a great choice.
Everything Else - The "It's Just The Pet I Like" Pets
We're expecting loads of comments like, "I've got a ______ and it's the schniznit because ______ ." Seriously, go ahead. Please tell us about your tallstriders, spiders, crabs, and sporebats. No other class understands the symbiosis between hunter and pet, so let some of your Pet-Love fly. Just because you adore your netherray doesn't make you a bad hunter. Properly employed, any hunter's pet can be an effective and deadly weapon.
The problem is that the number of people who will join the Warcraft Crocolisk-Lovers Association is very small and there are reasons for this; these pets are gimped compared to the others. You're probably not going to find a big-time theorycrafter who writes /castsequence macros to maximize DPS, spends hours at Dr. Boom testing talent specs, and runs with a pet hyena.
Laughingboy may be the pet of your dreams in that he reminds you of that summer with that girl with the long lustrous hair, the big green eyes you got lost in, and inexplicably smelled like cake. But we're sorry, he's just not the best you can do. If you're OK with that, so are we...
But try a cat. Please?
Daniel Howell continues his quest to put a DPS-pet in every hunter's stable as the Damh and Hobbes hunter-pet duo extraordinaire known to lore as BigRedKitty. More of his theorycrafting and slanderous belittling of the lesser classes can be found at bigredkitty.blogspot.com.
[Fan art by Moony]
*Edit: Thunderstomp does not stun. We totally blew that and apologize. It came from our research where all the comments said it should stun and we misread it. It was a wish-list, not a description.