We started off this column talking about the very first levels you go through as a hunter, from one to ten, and from there we got off onto other topics, such as getting your first pet, controlling it well, managing your threat, using crowd control, and other things all hunters must learn as we level up. But we talked about all these things in the abstract, not in the context of actually leveling up, the specific abilities you'll get, and how that'll change the way you play.
So today I'll start up the leveling train again, from levels 10 to 20, and we'll have a closer look at how these general ideas fit in to that period of your hunting career. Except for the sheer time investment involved, the hardest part of hunter leveling is already over once you reach level 10 and get your pet, and that makes this the most dangerous time for a hunter, when we are most likely to fall into lazy hunting habits and neglect the opportunity for complexity that shows up later on. Whereas before you had to work hard to stay out of your enemy's melee range, now it's a simple three-step process:
- Send in your pet for the attack.
Obviously the big spell here is Tame Beast, but we're not going to talk about that so much right now because we've already talked about pets so much, everything from choosing and training your pet at early levels, to controlling them, to understanding which pets are the best at level 70. Of course, there's a lot more we can say about pets, but we'll save that for later levels.
But there's one thing that needs to be said again: Get Fizzwidget's Hunter Helper. This addon can help you a ton in finding the best ways to get the latest pet abilities. The latest version has a table you can look at, which lists all the abilities your pet could possibly learn, and which other beasts nearest you can teach them to you. This in itself will make the rest of your hunter-levelling life so much easier that it makes this addon worth its weight in gold... except that it doesn't weigh anything. But you know what I mean.
Anyways, let's move on to other concerns. 10 is the level where you get the default hunter Aspect and Tracking abilities, namely Aspect of the Hawk, and Track Humanoids. Aspect of the Hawk is going to become your new default self-buff for the rest of your hunter life -- all other Aspects are fit to specific situations, but, essentially being a hunter is about doing direct damage, this is the Aspect that helps you do more.
Once you get Track Humanoids, then another huge burden lifts from your shoulders. This tracking spell is excellent for quests where you have to find a certain named enemy and kill it, especially if the enemy blends in with a crowd (all humans tend to look alike), or if it is inside buildings. Just mouse over the little dots on your minimap and sniff out exactly where your target is hiding. You'll be switching fairly frequently between this, Track Beasts, and whatever gathering profession tracking ability you have, so put them all somewhere on your action bars where they are painless to flip through.
For the last two levels now, you've probably been thinking, "Wow! Enemies die so fast now! I'm like... invincible!" Well... no you are not a supernatural entity of any sort, you're just lucky enough to control two entities in leveling zones designed for most classes which don't have a pet. Don't allow yourself to get used to feeling like a demigod.
Having said that, learning Mend Pet at this stage will make you feel even more indestructible than before. If before your only weakness was that your pet would get a little low on health during some battles, now you can use this little spell to keep it always healthy all the time. Just using this it would be easy to fall into the click and shoot hunter rut that leads to bad habits in the future. By all means, use Mend Pet, but don't give into laziness!
This is the level where you learn Wing Clip, but if you stick with the typical hunter rut, you'll hardly get a chance to use it. So, sometime when you're in the mood to practice your elite hunter skillz, go ahead and experiment with different settings on your pet (such as turning Growl off, for example), and see how much shooting you can do before the enemy runs towards you. Then, see how fast you can Wing Clip your enemy and how far you can get away. Try and use Concussive Shot from a distance to kite your enemy about as much as possible, and then use Wing Clip if he finally reaches you. Instead of going for the fastest kills possible, try and see if you can fight without taking any damage at all, either for you or your pet. If you see your pet's threat overtakes your own, you can now use Distracting Shot while you run to keep your enemy hopelessly chasing you around.
Here's the point where you get those gimmicky hunter spells that are really fun to try out at first but absolutely necessary in the long run. Eagle Eye is nice for times when you want to look about a big monster-infested area for just that one creature you need to find and kill, especially in conjunction with the aforementioned Track Humanoids. Eyes of the Beast is fun to play around with, but I personally haven't seen much actual use for it, except maybe in roleplaying. Scare Beast comes in particularly useful in PvP much later on, but whenever I'm leveling up, I tend to forget to use it on animals -- now that its range has been increased from 20 to 30 yards, however, perhaps it can help you if you want play "let's pretend to be warlocks!" whenever you're fighting animals.
Finally, you learn your first trap, Immolation Trap. Play with this as much as possible. Get the feeling for how the timing of the trap cooldown works, and see if you can lay a trap down for every fight that matters to you. The more practice you get with this trap now, the easier it will be to learn to use Freezing Trap later on at level 20. Besides, traps in general are super-fun and this one is no exception.
You also get Mongoose Bite at this level, but... sadly, it's mostly useless. You can only use it after you dodge, and you wouldn't dodge unless you're in melee combat, and there's really no reason you should be sitting in melee combat at this point. Keep it on your action bar while you have the space for the warm fuzzy feeling a new spell gives you, but don't expect to actually use it much.
Track Undead is handy for a lot of zones in the late teens and early 20s where undead monsters start becoming more popular. You don't need to put it on your action bars unless you have lots of free space, though -- using the right-click menu on the tracking icon should be sufficient for all the situations you might need this spell.
But Multi-Shot is the star of the show at this point. Kiting is no longer the only advanced hunter technique you can practice -- now you can go back to using your pet more often and try taking on multiple monsters at once. See if you can have your pet get the attention of three monsters, and keep them all in spite of your using Multi-Shot to hit them all at once. Use Mend Pet, of course, to keep your pet alive during this time, especially if you have a damage pet that isn't perfectly suited for tanking. With a lot of practice, you can really get a feel for how much your pet has to cycle through these different targets to hold them while you hit them all with Multi-Shot, Serpent Sting, and perhaps other abilities as well. Keep on doing this exercise as you level up, because these limits will change as your enemies get tougher, your gear improves, and your spells get new ranks. Always have a good feel of how much hate your pet can handle, and how quickly you can deal damage before your enemy turns on you instead.
Push your limits now so that you don't have to later on when you're in a group, and your friend is tanking in place of your pet.
Up next is level 20, which we will cover in more depth in a future article. For now, just look forward to freezing things and running much much faster from place to place, and enjoy how very fun it is to level a hunter at this point.