It is with no small sense of happiness that BRK returns to WoW Insider. We're thrilled that the executive muckity-mucks haven't nuked our account here into oblivion and that the editorial staff are being so kind as to help get these columns published. Without them, we wouldn't be back.
As such, please direct all flames and hate email to their in-boxes, comprende? Sweet.
(For those who've never read our posts here or on our personal blog, please note that we use use plural pronoun to refer to ourself. Why? Because we believe that the hunter and pet are One. That's just how we roll; don't panic.)
Let's let the bells ring and the banners fly! Roll out the carpet and bring out the champagne! Let's start the first new column with an email question.
"Dear BRK, a month ago the raid leader told me my DPS was too low for the exploratory raid into Serpentshrine Cavern. Since then, I have converted to BRK BM spec, am topping the DPS meters for our hunters, am generally within the top three or four for the raid, and seeing lots of SSC. Woot and thank you so much!
"I am seeing a big variation in DPS from boss to boss though, where my DPS can go from 900 to 1200, and I am not entirely clear on why. Part of it may be inconsistency in shot rotation and using my trinkets and such, but I wonder if a big chunk of it is from the group I get put in for that boss.
"For Hydross and Morogrim I am doing a total of 900-1000, with Bloodlust, my cat, doing 300 of it. Lurker Below is crappy DPS because I can't get Bloodlust to attack him no way no how. That all makes sense.
"We got moved to different groups for Karathress and suddenly I am up to 1200dps total, and Bloodlust is doing 500dps of it. Wow! How can I get more of that!
"Checking the buffs on my pet for that fight, it looks like I was grouped with a feral druid and an enhancement shammy. Can the presence of specific class/spec combos in my raid group make that big a difference in my pet's DPS?
"Do you have some guide somewhere on which class/specs help our DPS? Thanks, Kiya and Bloodlust."
Bluntly Kiya, no we don't. And for good reason.
"Well why the [bleep] not, BRK?" you may ask.
Well we'll tell you why. As a BM hunter, you bring something no other hunter can bring to a raid – increased Melee and Spell damage, in the form of Ferocious Inspiration. Increasing your DPS on trash is pretty irrelevant; you should be blowing away your raid just because of your 41/20/0 build alone.
But on boss fights, where Total Raid DPS is the goal, it is much more important for the raid to get buffed by you than for you to get buffed by the raid.
Dang that sounds familiar doesn't it. Read it again, let it sink in.
Your raid has three rogues. Put them all in the same party, toss your BM hunter in there with them, add a dash of an enhancement shaman, survivalist hunter, or a pocket-healer in that party, and you've just become a Rogue Amplifier. Those fellas will love you and your 3% bonus damage. Just remind them to watch their aggro.
Your raid craves AoE DPS for a specific fight. Your raid has four warlocks. Park one of them and their imp with the main tank, put the other three and a pocket-healer in your party. Congratulations, you've become a Warlock Amplifier. Watch those squishies crash the Top O'The Meter party and praise you for it.
We always want a shadow priest or a mana totem-slinging shammy in our party. We beg, we plead, and we hold our breath until we turn blue. Nope, healers need them more than we do. Healer without mana means dead tanks means wipes, period. As a hunter, massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS is our personal battle, but defeating the boss is the raid's war. Raid first, you second, you epeening maniac.
Remind your raid leader of your intrinsic value to the DPS Party. They may not know that you'll increase the damage-output of those shadow priests and fire/frost mages by 3% each. Stuffing you with tanks and healers because they don't know what to do with you is a huge waste.
Now obviously there are classes and specs that do enhance our natural uber DPS, of course. We'll talk about them a little, but we really don't want you to start demanding that these folks get stuffed in your party for the reason we previously stated. But let's talk quickly about some of our favorites.
For your pet, his biggest DPS-problem is Misses. Even with 2/2 in Animal Handler and the +4% To Pet Hit it gives, our pet Hobbes will Miss melee, Claw, and Kill Commands approximately 10-15% of the time on level 73 bosses. If you can get a Draenei with Heroic Presence in your party, your pet will get an addition 1% Hit. That's a big deal-e-o, folks. Alliance hunters should always try to finagle a Draenei into one's party, especially you BM hunters who rely on pet-DPS for almost 30% of your total damage output.
Shadow Priests and maga-regen. We want our own mana battery, so do you. You most likely won't get one as your healers will get priority, but if you do, celebrate and treat them like the royalty they are.
Shaman and mana-regen and agility totems. If your raid has no shadow priests, the shammy will probably go to the healers. But if you do steal one into your party, enjoy the mana and extra DPS while he soaks up the sun with the extra damage you provide him.
Druids in Cat, Bear, or Dire Bear form give us the lovely, spring-time fresh, and sweet-smelling Leader of the Pack buff, increasing ranged and melee critical strike chance by 5%. You're going to have to get down-and-dirty to pull one of these folks from your rogues, but it's one of the best grouping-fights worth engaging.
If you want a Pally's armor-aura for your pet on mobs like Gruul, where physical damage mitigation is a wise course of action, go ahead and ask for that. Otherwise, let your Pally do what he's got to do. As long as it isn't Ret. /shudder
But let's talk about that Lurker Below fight for a moment. It is totally true that Lurker is a pet nightmare, and bizarre and buggy things can make your pet go all wonky. However, we use a strategy that works pretty well.
Let's say you get put on the broken platform. The donut one. You know, there are three platforms and one of them has a hole. Yeah, that one. That's your platform, you own it, demand the respect you're due. Good.
If you take your pet out there with you, he will not be able to attack Lurker. He's a 9000-health, 11,000-armor killing machine, but he won't swim from your platform to the boss. One would think flying pets would at least have no issues, but the silly things won't go. (Turtles! They should have it easy, but they don't freakin' swim! What kind of justice is that?)
So you have two choices. One, you can bring him with you on the platform and have him help you kill the platform-adds.
Or two, and much a better choice than One, before you boogie on out to your donut, stand on the inner ring as close to your platform as you can, and put your pet on Stay. Now, swim to your platform and get ready to rumble.
When Lurker spawns, go ahead and shoot from range; he won't aggro non-melee people. Hold your pet back and allow your main tank to establish aggro. Once your tank is secure and the rogues start going to town, send your pet to attack. And attack Lurker he will! Yay, you're doing as close to full-damage as a hunter can on Lurker, good work.
When Lurker submerges, your pet will return to his Stay position. Yeehaw! When the inner-ring adds appear, target one of them and have your pet attack it. Then, switch to your donut ring targets and blast them down. After your platform is clear, switch back to the mob your pet is attacking and finish it off. (Or destroy the inner-ring targets first, whatever your raid prefers.)
Once those adds are down, your pet will return to its Stay position. Wait for Lurker to reappear, get in the water, send your pet to attack - he's immune to the Spout - let the Spout go past you, get back on the platform, and resume the beat-down.
Rinse and repeat. Win! Get no loot, because he drops basically zilch for hunters. Cry.
You won't do the same DPS you do on stationary boss fight, but getting your pet in on Lurker is a lot better than letting your pet sit next to you the entire time Lurker is up. Now as we said, this is a buggy fight and we've seen our pet freak out and suddenly appear next to us on our donut. It happens, so don't spittle-scream at the game, it doesn't help.
We know; we've tried.
Daniel Howell continues his quest to tame The Lurker Below for a hunter pet 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 www.bigredkitty.net.