Big Red Kitty is in a Hunter-License Pulling state of mind. Way too many of you are yanking aggro from your tanks and pets. An obscene number of you are making your rogues run hither and yon as you drag bosses from your tanks, wait until they get in your grill, and then dump the elite b@stards on your healer. We're totally out of patience with your huntardness and aren't going to put up with your antics any more. So get your crayons and the clean side of the pizza box that's under your bed and get ready to take some notes. It's Aggro Lesson City, population You.
A hunter who cannot effectively manage his aggro is a huge liability. He causes confusion and delay. He causes strife and stress. He makes everybody work much harder than they should and wastes time, effort, and gold. If you're this kind of hunter, perhaps you should reroll a class that is so universally maligned that the mere mention of them elicits guffaws and knee slappings. A class with a spec so disastrous, so head-smackingly pathetic that the class's lead programmer was put in stocks in the Blizzard cafeteria and subjected to twenty pimento-loaf-on-rye lashings.
That's right, we're talking about...
So off we go into the land of Aggro Management. As a hunter, you have the greatest aggro-management abilities in the game, bar none. You can raise, transfer and wipe your aggro using many abilities. These skills are what allow you to go full-bore DPS without grabbing aggro, something for which our best-buddy mages would give their eternal squishiness to obtain.
The key to most fights is aggro-management. Allowing your tank to hold the mob while the DPS-classes do their thing is the most fundamental fighting strategy, universally known as Tank-n-Spank. But how do you keep from grabbing your tank's aggro? One of the best methods is to ensure you don't reach the top of your mob's threat list. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to see that threat list and control your DPS and prematurely Feign Death when necessary? Well we can, using the KLH Threat Meter.
We know that WoW Insider recently published a nice article on a replacement for KLH called Omen, but as the developer himself has pointed out, it's still not-quite-ready-for-prime-time. Until he says, "Play Ball" -- and you can bet we'll be grabbing it for the BRK Hunter Labs to play with when he does -- we at BRK will continue to espouse that KLH is the number one most-important addon for hunters and you should understand it inside and out. So let's take a look at it.
But there's a lot more to KLH, as you can plainly see.
The first column lists the names of the people on the mob's threat list. They don't have to be in your party, their combat stats just have to appear in your Combat Chat window - i.e. their combat data has to be within range of your toon. In an instance, everybody is in a party or raid and within distance, so that point is moot.
The second column lists the total threat of each person on that mob's threat list. Damage causes your threat to go up, but so does healing and special attacks designed to increase threat, like Sunder Armor.
Threat is also range-dependent. Your tank is, of course, very close to the mob so his threat is easily added. Your healer, if she's far enough away, could possibly avoid having her healing-generated threat added to the mob's list due to her range from the mob. However, when Captain Hunter-Aggro steals the mob from the tank and lets it run up in his grill while the healer is standing near him, her aggro is quickly added to the mob's threat list. This is a prime reason a mob will aggro your healer if you Feign Death too late; your healer has been slamming heals on everybody because the mob is running amok and she rises to the top of the threat list because your tank is running around not causing any threat at all. You FD, she grabs aggro, her squishy little body gets smeared all over the instance floor, and you need to pay for everybody's repair bills while BRK yanks your Hunter License.
The third column lists the total threat as a percentage. In this picture, BigRedKitty has 3610 threat and our spiffy tank Brigin has 6413.
3610 / 6413 = 0.5629 or 56.29% rounded to 56%
The fourth column is our Threat Per Second. This is important because with it we can tell how quickly we're gaining on our tank in the race toward the top of the threat list. Notice that our TPS is less than Brigin's. If we maintained these rates, there is no way we could grab aggro from him. However, TPS is not static. When we crit or do other large threat-generating activities, our TPS will change. By watching the party's TPSs, we can warn people to "throttle back" their threat-generating spells and attacks.
One big limitation to KLH is that it only accurately tracks your threat. It can only track the threat of other people whose damage, heals or special attacks appear in your Combat Window. If your tank slams Sunder Armor and you're out of range to see that in your Combat Window, it won't be registered in your KLH display. As such, you cannot guarantee the accuracy of anybody else's threat other than your own. This can cause confusion when you grab aggro but your KLH says you're #2 on the threat list. Well, the problem was that the list wasn't completely accurate and you were living on the edge, refusing to prematurely Feign Death.
The solution to this problem is for everybody in your party or raid to install KLH. It will automatically synchronize everybody's data and provide an extremely accurate representation of your mob's threat list. Can you think of anybody who shouldn't be interested in their position on the threat list? Maybe not Ret Paladins, but everybody else, yer darn tootin'.
Notice the Hunter's Mark icon in the menu bar. That is the Master Target button. Only the party or raid leader can set a Master Target so make sure your leader is aware of this. The purpose of the Master Target feature is to isolate a single mob's threat list when fighting multiple mobs. If this button is ignored, one can basically ignore one's data and pretty colors because the threat list you see is really a mish-mash of damage and heals from mobs all over the place. Master Target is your friend; insist that it is used when appropriate.
The final piece of the KLH puzzle we're going to cover is that blue bar titled "Aggro Gain". Obviously, this is not a person. It is an optional display KLH offers that will tell you just how much threat you'll have to generate to overtake the person at the top of the list. Since our tank is generating 633 TPS and already has a 3000-threat lead over us, we'd have to ramp our TPS to 823 and our total threat to 8336 to surpass Brigin. And the %Max column tells us what percentage of Brigin's threat we'd have to generate to accomplish this "goal":
8336 / 6413 = 1.2999 or 129.99% rounded to 130%
Again, this particular feature is optional. If you find it distracting, there is no dishonor in not using it. After all, we don't want you doing partial differential equations during a Moroes fight; we want you chain-trapping and rising to the top of the damage meter.
And the best way to do that, of course, is to never grab aggro in the first place. Using and understanding KLH Threat Meter is the single best tool you have to accomplish that.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to make hunters aggro-grabbin'-free 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.