Classic warning signs
Remember that we all make mistakes, and we all have different learning curves. A mistake, or even a couple, isn't an indication that someone is suffering from huntardism. That is part of what makes this disease so difficult to diagnose and treat. It's only when we see a pattern of stupidity that we are able to diagnose the condition. The classic huntard warning signs include the following:
- pet running off and pulling random groups of mobs
- hunter pulling aggro
- hunter insisting on pulling groups on his or her own, typically without consulting the tank, certainly without permission
- pet sitting by the hunter's side, unused
- standing in void zones, usually followed by cursing the healer for his or her death and/or posting damage meters
- keyboard turning
- jumping off ledges of all kinds, ignoring the pet pathing ramifications
- Feign Death used reactively, rather than proactively
- use of downranked shots
- doesn't even have a pet out
- at level 80, has not spent talents down to the bottom of any tree; bonus points for going evenly into all three trees
- gemming for strength
- name is a variant of "Legolas"
If someone you know regularly does one or more of these things, he may be a huntard.
Huntards in the wild
While the classic warning signs listed above are the most common, they are by no means the only symptoms of this disease. In fact, while there are a limited number of ways or styles of playing a hunter correctly, the huntard can find infinite ways to just plain do it wrong. The mental process that leads to this can be a bit mind-boggling. Here are some actual sightings of the huntard in the wild:
- Hunter spotted with a strangely small pet. It turns out this is the first pet he ever tamed. And this is not like the first pet you or I ever tamed -- this is literally the pet he tamed in the level 10 hunter quest that teaches you to tame a pet. Only instead of returning to the quest giver to complete the quest and learn the Tame Beast skill, he instead decided that the pet was good enough and went on about his leveling life. As he got more and more levels, his temporary quest pet stayed exactly the same level it always was.
- Hunter spotted using Distracting Shot a lot during random heroics. When asked about it, he explains: "Distracting Shot makes them face me, and then I can use my Kill Shot on them."
If you suspect a friend or loved one is a huntard, you need to talk to him about his problem. It is not helping him or anyone else to leave this disease to run unchecked. But the way you go about telling him is very important. You must view it as an intervention. You must be non-confrontational and create a safe, loving atmosphere. If possible, engage the help of guildmates, parents, siblings and significant others (note: only one significant other at a time is recommended).
This is where so many people with good intentions miss the mark. They see someone exhibiting huntard symptoms, but in an akward attempt to cure them, they shout that they are a huntard, a dumbass, a noob, or tell them they suck. Huntardism is a disease of the mind, and it reacts negatively to these kinds of direct confrontational approaches. In extreme cases, it can even aggravate the huntard symptoms and cause an outbreak of new ones.
When approaching a huntard-capable player, remember the three steps: ask, explain, direct.
- Ask Never confront a huntard by assuming that he's doing something stupid (though, of course, usually he is). Always ask him first why he is doing a certain thing. Every now and then, there'll be an actual reason. Maybe he gemmed for strength because he lost a bet and was just doing it for one day. Who knows? But more often, you'll get a unique peek at the crazy that happened in his brain -- and this is good. By understanding the huntard's thought process, you can better understand how to help steer him back on track.
- Explain Once you know why the huntard is doing the strange things he does and you've confirmed that there is no good reason, explain to him the correct way or ways to do whatever he's doing. It's important in this stage to keep things as simple as possible. Don't try to explain a lot of different alternatives, and don't try to expand into other areas he probably needs help in, but also don't just tell him what to do. Explain -- without calling names or being insulting -- what's wrong with the way he is doing it, and explain how this other way works better. Again, if there are multiple better ways, just pick one (the simplest) and get him started on that.
- Direct Finally, if you've done your job well, you now have the trust of this young, impressionable huntard. He's probably experienced a lot of people yelling at him and calling him a noob, but you were different. You took the time to talk to him, you asked him questions and found out what he was doing and why, and then you patiently explained a better way. The final step here is to direct this player to your favorite hunter resource site on the web. This is the "teaching a man to fish" stage. In all liklihood, you don't have time to teach him everything there is to know about being a hunter. Instead, steer him to somewhere he can do his own reading and his own learning at his own pace. Just be sure you're directing him to someplace kind to the unlearned -- never send a recovering huntard to Elitist Jerks!
Not every intervention will work, and not every huntard is ready to change. But with time and patience, we can look forward to the day when this disease has been wiped out and is nothing but a footnote in the medical journals.
Scattered Shots is the WoW.com column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. See the Scattered Shots Resource Guide for a full listing of vital and entertaining hunter guides, including how to improve your heroic DPS, understand the impact of skill vs. gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101 and even solo bosses with some extreme soloing.