This week's collection of random blatherings, idiosyncratic spoutings and outright falsehoods concerning the Auction House and how you can gear yourself for raiding for less than 1000 gold has been shelved in light of a critical situation. We received a short email asking us a simple question:
"Are hunters a hybrid class?"
Before we could slam our auto-typed macro to respond, "The primary purpose of a hunter is to provide massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS," the fellow continued,
"I just don't think people understand how important a hunter's trapping skills are. Yes we do lots of damage, but getting locked into the mindset that dealing damage is our sole purpose is detrimental to our capabilities. Our class as a whole is not critical to any instance or raid and our individual ability to provide crowd control can either grant us entry or bar us from many instances.
"As a large voice in the hunter community, it would be appropriate for you to recognize this fact, adapt your column and blog to spreading this word, and put the idea in everybody's mind, not just the hunters, that our talents in the area of crowd control make us a hybrid class. If we are identified as hybrids instead of DPS, perhaps we'll get more invitations and respect."
Needless to say, we were floored. Several questions immediately sprang to mind, not the least of which was, "Why in the heck do these letters always arrive on a Tuesday?" BRK loves getting emails but if you're going to come up with a thesis question for us, send it on Thursday so we have time to formulate an appropriate response. As it is, we're flying by the seat of our pants and our executive assistant is going to scream her head off at us for sending this to her so late for review.
But we do have an answer to this emailer's question. Shall we pull up a couch or can we Tony Soprano this and just sit in a chair?
Since before the expansion, before Naxxramas, before Molten Core, before Warcraft was beta, since the time of the invention of the transistor, since before the discovery of electricity, BRK has advocated the position that the primary purpose of a hunter was to provide massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS. Everything else we can do is a secondary or tertiary vocation. A Hunter, we trumpet, is a DPS Class, hallelujah, pass the gravy and bring us more ammo.
Crowd control, we have proselytized, is one of our many additional duties.
The traditional triumvirate of a party is the Tank/Healer/DPS make-up. The tank holds the mob in place, healer keeps the tank alive, DPS destroys the mob. Rinse and repeat. Notice how crowd control is not even mentioned.
But why not? Nobody heads into an instance just planning for the three basic party-functions. You cannot go to an instance with these three, but you cannot succeed without crowd control.
"We're going to Botanica so we really need a Warlock."
"We're going to Shattered Halls so we really need a Mage."
"We're going to Strat Dead so we really need a Priest."
Isn't that what most parties plan? Determine the instance requirements for crowd control and fill a space in the party with a class that can provide the most capable skills to meet those needs.
But can't a hunter do all of those crowd controls? We can trap the demons in Botanica, we can trap the humanoids in Shattered Halls, we can trap the undead in Strat Dead. We can trap mechanicals, elementals, beasts, just about anything. Hunters are qualified to do all those jobs!
"We're going to Botanica so we really need a Warlock or a Hunter."
People should be saying that, shouldn't they! You need crowd control, call us. Don't sit in Looking for Group hoping an appropriately-keyed druid comes online when you want to run heroic Sethekk Halls, just grab one of the 214 hunters sitting around, hoping to do something, who can trap those birds on every pull.
"Hunters are a hybrid class." Try saying it. Roll it around on your tongue, let it seep into your subconscious. How does it feel? Good? Yeah, it is kinda good.
But what's the trade-off?
Nothing in WoW is free so there's got to be a downside, something to counter the happiness that trickles down your spine when you think of all the instances you might get to run if the entire population of your server considered hunters a hybrid class, capable of fulfilling any crowd control role. BRK has thought of one small potential stumbling block:
Most hunters stink at trapping.
The general consensus is that playing a hunter is ez-mode. Let's accept that postulate but define it more accurately. Hunters are ez-mode because we have a built-in tank -- our pet -- and we have a built-in healer -- our Mend Pet spell. So as a single entity a hunter is a complete Tank/Healer/DPS package. Leveling a hunter isn't the hardest job in the game because as long as we keep aggro on our pet and we keep our pet healed we're not going to die.
Trapping is a totally different thing.
Our crowd control spell, Freezing Trap, is on a cool-down timer. We can't just pop one off any time we want. If a mob resists our trap and the cool-down hasn't completed its cycle, we're in a mess of trouble. Trapping requires timing, skill, and the cooperation of the entire party to pull off. Chain trapping requires patience, strategy and an ability to see the entire battle and analyze safe-zones to repeat our trapping.
All Polymorph requires is a macro. Break the sheep? Macro. Break it again? Macro.
Break our trap, we all die.
If we start spreading the gospel that hunters are a hybrid class, if we state that our crowd control skills are on a equal importance-level as our DPS, people are going to expect us to be able to Do It All The Time. That worries us because there are a lot of hunters who Cannot Trap At All.
"We are a hybrid class!" we announce to the world.
"Yeah, but 90% of you guys couldn't trap a statue," will come the flamers. And they will be right.
Have you ever met a mage who couldn't Polymorph and Fireball? Probably not. Have you ever met a rogue who couldn't Sap and do their Iron Chef impersonation with their daggers? Probably not. Have you ever met a hunter who not only couldn't trap but barely knew the difference between a Freezing and a Frost Trap, and then repeatedly smashed their own trap with Auto Shot? More often than you'd like to remember, we'll bet.
At this time, it is our opinion that attempting to establish an idea of the Hunter as a hybrid class is a mistake. We think it's putting too much of an expectation on our class to say we all know how chain trap effectively and not have the rest of the world laugh in our face. If we were invited to parties based upon some expectation that everyone in our class would be able to chain-trap flawlessly, how many horrible hybrid-hunter experiences would it take before people would just stop inviting hunters altogether? By declaring ourselves hybrids, we think we'd get fewer invites than we already do.
But there is something we can do about this! We can help each other. We have held Chain Trapping Clinics for hunters, even for level 70s, to show them how to chain trap. We write blog posts describing the basic concepts, we link to other hunters who have created beautiful graphical presentations on advanced chain-trapping. We encourage you to do something for your community, too. If you know how to trap, pass that knowledge on. Offer your services to your guild and your friends.
"Fellas, I'm holding a quick chain-trapping class at Refuge Point in an hour. If you want to see how it's done and get some practice in, be there."
You'll me shocked at the response you'll get. Hunters will come out of the woodwork to see a Real Hunter do his stuff.
We are not a hybrid class. Our business card remains, "The main purpose of a hunter is to provide massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS." However, the next time you're asking for a spot in a Shattered Halls run, you should definitely slip in, "And I know how to chain-trap, too."
Daniel Howell continues his quest to make Freezing Trap the "Official Trap of the 2008 Olympics" 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.