Now, I've got to say -- I have high expectations for Hunters in an instance setting. My main is a Priest, and my favorite instancing partner is always a good Hunter. Why? Because a Hunter stays back from the action, usually near where I am. And if an add runs after me, a tank, who's busy tangling with the main target of the group, might not even notice. But a good Hunter will always notice. They'll send in their pet with Growl, Intimidation, or Bestial Wrath and have that thing off of me in a flash. (Trust me, I heal very little while being smacked around by a mob -- and by saving me, an open-eyed Hunter can easily save the entire group.) So, despite being rather low level, I tried to emulate all the best Hunters I'd played with in the past.
And what did I learn from all of this? Playing a good Hunter isn't as easy those Hunters make it look!
In Friday's instance run, we had a huge group of people, and though we tried to balance out groups as well as possible, the group I wound up in had a Rogue, a Priest, a Warlock, and two Hunters. We had healing and plenty of DPS, but no obvious tanking class. What that meant, to me, was that we were going to have Hunter pets tanking. (Sure, Rogues can evasion-tank occasionally, and Warlock Voidwalkers can tank a bit, out of our available options, Hunter pets seemed the best choice.)
So into Ragefire Chasm we ran! Of our group, none of us were playing a class we were accustomed to, so it was a learning experience for everyone. I'd mark a target, and the pets would fly in, and, for the most part, all went well! And though at times a bad pull or accidental aggro wound up with us dealing with many more mobs than we were prepared for, the only deaths in our little group were pet deaths.
And while playing a Hunter is, overall, easy enough, the devil's in the details. Sure, for most pulls I'd cast Hunter's Mark, send in my pet, and throw out Serpent Sting (though some mobs in RFC were immune to nature damage), Arcane Shot, and autoshoot until our target was dead. Then I'd repeat the process for any remaining targets our group was working on. But if the Priest or Warlock has pulled aggro? If the rogue is off-tanking and low on health?
When everything's going right, it's a breeze. But when something goes wrong, there's a lot of things to pay attention to. Where is every mob? Am I far enough away from all of them to range them, or do I need to back up? (And if I need to back up, will I back into anything and make the situation worse?) What's my pet doing? If it's main tanking a mob, pulling it away to grab something off someone else may just mean the first mob is going to be running loose soon. If my pet's target is low on health, though, I can probably send my pet to the second target and just wear down the first before any trouble happens. But if my pet's main tanking a high health mob? I need to send a Distracting Shot at whatever target is heading towards the group's squishies to pull it off them. (And maybe end up, eek, meleeing with it until my pet's free to deal with it.) And I've got to go through all of these options in an instant -- if I took as much time to think about them all as I've just taken to type them up, anyone I was trying to save would be dead.
In short, a single RFC run has given me a huge amount of respect for all of the Hunters who have ever saved my squishie main in an instance. I've always appreciated what you could do -- and now I appreciate the amount of effort and attention it takes to do it. All I've got to say is that it's going to take a lot of work to live up to my own expectation of what a good Hunter needed to do.
Do my experiences trying to figure out the Hunter class sound interesting to you? Read more of Lizzie's Adventures in Azeroth!