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.
What is your goal as a hunter in an instance? To not Multi Shot sheep? That a good one. To pull with the precision of a guided missile? Nice. To chain-trap your assigned mob until it has frostbite? Spiffy. To provide massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS? Of course. To top the DamageMeters, demand the raid publicly address your superior skills and offer you tithings of gold and phat loot... and a nice song to commemorate your presence?
Toss in a frosty, adult beverage and you're approaching how BRK rolls.
But what really is the best way to convince your friends that you are deserving of a parade? It is our esteemed opinion that DPS alone is not going to win you any friends or influence people. We want you to do tons of DPS, but do it in a manner that exudes confidence, bravado, and efficiency.
We want you to use a few macros.
We love macros. They put a smile on our face and a spring in our step. We are also very aware that there are legions of hunters who haven't tried them at all. This must change for our class to escape the Myths of the Huntard.
Please don't think we're about to demand you all become Macrophiles. Perish the thought. Shoving a bunch of,
"Now remember to set your reset time to 3 on your castsequence Steady Shot/Auto Shot macro!"
mumbo-jumbo ain't gonna convert the masses. Like the Spanish Inquisition, we prefer to start off slowly.
We're going to show you some macros that will increase your damage by making you more efficient and also make you a more desirable class to have in parties. These macros are not powerful in that they have hundreds of characters, but instead accomplish very important tasks in a predestined order designed to maximize your effectiveness.
Having said all that, let's dive in.
How do we attack a mob? For hunters, the correct answer is: cast Hunter's Mark, send pet to attack and tank, and deliver massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS. We can make a very simple macro to assist us with this task which we will call the Pet Attack Macro:
Pet Attack Macro
/cast Hunter's Mark
Very nice. Assign this macro to an icon, put the icon on your action bar and assign a key to activate it. With the press of one button we will accomplish two tasks. BRK uses F7, but any key will do.
Are we really much more efficient with the macro? Not too terribly much, no. But it's a building-block toward becoming extremely efficient in crowded, hectic situations. Onward.
Target Versus Focus
A simple question: do you know what your Focus is? No, not the Focus your pet uses for spells, but your toon's Focus. Did you know you have one? Well you do and it's very handy. Let's learn a little about it.
You have a Target. WooT! Your Target is the mob or friend with whom you directly interacting. Your Target changes, of course. It changes when you select a different mob or friend. Blizzard was kind enough to allow us to use our Target as a variable that can be used in commands and macros.
If you want to emote "Hello" to your friend Someguy, you could type:
If your Target was Someguy, you could also type:
This is an example of using Target as a variable. For our little hello-command, Target is set to Someguy and the computer handles the rest. Simple.
Now you also have a similar variable called Focus. Whereas your Target changes when you select a new mob or friend, your Focus can only be set, reset, or cleared explicitly. If you want to make Someguy your Focus, you would type:
Target and Focus are separate entities. If you click on your friend Thatgirl, your Target is automatically set to Thatgirl but your Focus continues to be Someguy. If you click on a murloc, your Target is now that murloc but your Focus continues to be Someguy. The only way you can effect a change in your Focus is to do so explicitly:
Before we get into what we can do with our Focus, let's make it easier to set it.
Set Focus Macro
Again, assign it to an icon and put it on the action bar. We don't have a keystroke assigned to our Set Focus Macro because, although we use it daily, we use it very infrequently and almost never in combat.
What the macro does is assign to the Focus variable the mob that is being targeted. If we wished to make our party's tank our Focus, we would target him and click this macro. How efficient is this? It depends on how creative your tank was when he chose his name. Do you really want type:
Of course you don't. Use this little macro to simply and quickly assign your Focus. Now let's do something with it.
The Assist feature of Warcraft is wonderful. If you click on your tank and follow with clicking the Assist button, your target will become whatever the tank is targeting. If your tank is holding multiple mobs, we can Assist and always be sure of attacking the mob he is directly tanking. This will help us not to pull aggro from the tank, which would be Bad.
But to use the Assist feature, we have to target the tank and then hit the Assist key. That's two steps and wasted time that we can eliminate with a macro.
Assist Focus Macro
This one definitely goes in a good spot on the action bar with a key mapped to it. This one gets used a lot. Things go awry in an instance and your battle plan of Skull, X, Star can be changed the second the first trap fails. No worries! When Skull goes down just smack your Assist Focus Macro and you'll be attacking whatever it is the tank picks up next. No guess-work, no miscommunication and little down-time between attacks.
A Quick Demonstration
Our party forms outside the instance and goes through the rigmarole of getting ready to start. One of your preparation steps is to make the tank your Focus, so you click on the tank and use your Set Focus Macro. Poof, it's done.
You enter the instance and off you all go. The first pull is easy, just two mobs. One gets sheeped and the tank takes the other. What's our job as a hunter? Target the tank's mob and burn it down. Instead of tab-targeting and perhaps accidentally attacking the sheep, you press your Assist Focus Macro and you're immediately targeting the tank's Target. If you have set your system's configuration so that you commence attacking upon Assisting, you'll actually start firing your ranged weapon, too.
But what about your pet? Oh yes, you smack your Pet Attack Macro and that mob gets lit with a Hunter's Mark and your pet rushes in to help DPS.
Now this is all well and good, but hardly revolutionary. Where this all really shines is in more complex situations. Let's build one and take a look.
Putting It All Together - A Bad Scenario
You're in Steamvaults pulling the four-mob packs. You're sapping one, trapping one, mind-controlling one, and DPSing the Skull. Nice plan. The rogue saps, the feral druid pulls the skull, you tag your mob and start pulling it to your trap. You run run run to the safe place you put your trap, you wait for him to get to you, pop he's trapped.
You want to DPS the Skull, of course. You tab-target and accidentally select your trapped mob but are able to keep from shooting it. You see the Skull mob and try to select it but there are too many things in the way and you cannot get a good click on it. With a growl of desperation, you tab-target through the mobs... circle, moon, Skull! Yes! Start firing! OMG it's been 10 seconds and we we haven't sent our pet yet! Get going you! We're not topping the DamageMeters today as it seems we're always a bloody, bleepin' step behind.
Putting It All Together - With Macros
You're in Steamvaults pulling the four-mob packs. You're sapping one, trapping one, mind-controlling one, and DPSing the Skull. Nice plan. The rogue saps, the feral druid pulls the skull, you tag your mob and start pulling it to your trap.
While you are running to your trap you hit your Assist Focus Macro and you immediately switch to targeting the Skull.
While you are still running to your trap you smack your Pet Attack Macro.
As long as your Target is in line-of-sight, you'll cast your Hunter's Mark. Did you know you don't actually have to be looking at the mob to cast Hunter's Mark, it'll work as long as line-of-sight rules are not violated? That's pretty spiffy. The mob is marked and your pet races to engage.
You arrive at your trap, the mob you tagged arrives and pop he's trapped.
Well, you've already marked the Skull, your pet has been DPSing it for the past eight seconds, you're already targeting the Skull, so just run into position and commence firing. How simple, elegant and clean is that, we ask you.
The Misdirection Pull
It's time we break out of the single-line macro universe and explore something a little more creative. Misdirection is a great gift with which we hunters are entrusted. We've always had the ability to set our own Threat to zero, but now we have the capability to direct our aggro onto someone else. The most fun you can have with this is the Misdirect-Ninja Kick, but the most important use is for proper aggro control.
You and your party are standing in front of The Boss. He's why you're all here and you don't want to mess it up, so you're going to use a Misdirection Pull. The Misdirection spell will take the aggro from your first three shots and put it all on your Misdirection target, (please note that Misdirection is a little buggy, so research it and use with extreme care until Patch 2.1.2 supposedly fixes it).
We want to accomplish five tasks in order to perform a Misdirection Pull:
Cast Hunter's Mark on the boss
Place our cursor on the tank and click so the spell hits him
Retarget the boss
Fire Aimed Shot (and two others shots) and hope for great, mondo crits
We can reduce the number of steps significantly by using a macro. As long as we set the tank as our Focus we can do this:
The Misdirection Macro
Oh that's a nice command, isn't it. Targetlasttarget takes us back the mob we were targeting before we cast Misdirection. Our steps to advance on the boss are now:
Cast Hunter's Mark on the boss
Use our Misdirection Macro
At the beginning of a boss-battle this efficiency isn't really necessary. However, in the middle of a battle it can spell the difference between killing the boss and wiping. A great example of this situation is Attumen the Huntsman in Karazhan.
The Attumen fight begins with the raid attacking his horse, Midnight. When she is dropped to 95% health, Attumen himself appears with a fresh and empty threat list. The Attumen-assigned tank must get aggro to prevent the boss from running crazy and one-shotting everybody. Your Misdirection Macro can make this much easier for him.
Make sure to make the tank assigned to Attumen your Focus before the fight begins by using your Focus Set Macro. When Midnight is at 96% use your Misdirection Macro; don't wait for Attumen to appear before casting it. When he does appear a few seconds later, target him and give him some rock-hard, Hunter-city Aimed/Arcane/Steady damage. That should guarantee that the tank has good chunk of Attumen's threat list all to himself and the rest of the raid can concentrate on doing their jobs instead of sucking hay and dust off of the stable floor.
And after Attumen is down, always accept the whistles and applause with the grace that befits your standing. You're a hunter after all.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to complete Gruul's Lair with only a single, all-powerful macro as the 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]