I still deeply regret abandoning my hydra pet back in Wrath of the Lich King. A bug in one of the daily quests in Sholazar Basin allowed hunters to tame a ghostly hydra, oozeling, or crocodile. Blizzard fixed the bug, but allowed everyone to keep their pets. In my defense, we were only allowed to have four pets in our stable at the time, and there was spirit beasts to be had. Do you know how heavily camped Loque'nahak was back then? You think cross-realm zones are bad?
Before Wrath added a couple of extra stable slots (which cost gold, by the way), hunters only had two stable slots throughout vanilla and BC in addition to our active pet. Then Cataclysm came along and let us tame a whopping 25 pets. I'm pretty sure the server hosting the Petopia forums spontaneously exploded in the back of a room somewhere, ruining some poor IT guy's day. It felt like it could never get any better for a pet collector. Then patch 5.3 came along and Blizzard said: "You guys want, like, 30 more pet slots? Sure, here you go."
The new slots were welcome, but just how does one tame 55 unique pets?. Once you've tamed every rare and hunted down every spirit beast, what else is there? The tallstrider, of course. Get one in every color and have your own fleet of tallstriders. Tallstriders are awesome! Maybe even more awesome than sporebats.
Why do I want a half-ostrich, half-raptor goofy looking thing as a pet?
Tallstriders provide a very unique raid debuff that you can bring when all of your raid's primary buffs are covered. The tallstrider's Dust Cloud ability provides an AoE armor debuff, and unlike the raptor pet which only applies one stack of this debuff at a time to a single target, the tallstrider applies all three stacks at once to all targets within 10 yards. This is a nice DPS increase on multi-target fights with scores of adds like Galakras or Garrosh Hellscream, especially if your raid is melee-heavy. In patch 5.4 rogues got the Glyph of Sharp Knives which makes Fan of Knives apply an AoE armor debuff as well. However, it will only apply one stack at a time and not three stacks instantly like the magnificent tallstrider. Just how much of a boost is this debuff? Well, for hunters it will make you do around 3% more damage on affected targets, but certain things like Beast Cleave will benefit even further. Any melee classes in your raid will also see a very nice AoE damage boost. It all adds up and could make the difference between a close wipe and a successful kill.
Here is a list of some of the less common buffs and debuffs your group or 10-man raid might be missing that one of your 55 pets could provide:
Weakened armor (-12%) on target
Provided by tallstriders (Dust Cloud) and raptors (Tear Armor)
Useful if you don't have a rogue with the appropriate glyph. Also useful in single target situations when missing a warrior or druid.
5% increased magic damage on target
Provided by wind serpents (Lightning Breath) and dragonhawks (Fire Breath)
Useful if you do not have a warlock or rogue in your group.
4% Increased physical damage on target
Provided by boars, ravagers, rhinos, and worms
Useful if you don't have a DPS death knight, retribution paladin or DPS warrior.
5% spell haste
Provided by sporebats (Energizing Spores)
Useful if you don't have an elemental shaman, shadow priest, or boomkin.
Before you pull out your trusty wolf or cat because your buff UI says "8/8," remember the tallstrider! Anyone who has had a 0.1% wipe on a boss will appreciate how every little bit counts. If you want to browse the various pet looks available for taming, be sure to check out Petopia.
Most pets provide a buff or crowd control ability, but there are several exotic pets which provide unique utility abilities only available to a beast mastery hunter. Here are some of my favorites:
Water Striders (Surface Trot)
These guys will allow you to walk on water, and the ability can even be cast while you are mounted. The effect is canceled whenever you enter combat, but it can still be useful for chasing after Evermaw if you don't have the water-walking mount. I like to keep one of these in my active pet list when I'm out and about in the world. It should be very handy for leveling in Warlords when you can't fly over bodies of water.
Quilen (Eternal Guardian)
A battle resurrection is something usually covered in a raid, but it can often be missing from smaller groups. I've found this one particularly useful when farming Emperor Shaohao reputation in a group on the Timeless Isle. If you've ever chain pulled the yaungol up in the ordon sanctuary, you know how often deaths are going to happen. If the tank dies I can get them up in a pinch with this. This does have a couple limitations, mainly its 20 yard range (from the pet, not you) and the fact that it cannot be used if the player you wish to resurrect has released their spirit.
Spirit Beast (Spirit Mend)
I think most veteran hunters have spent the time camping at least one of these coveted pets (or all of them!), but newer hunters may not have had the opportunity to use one of these yet. Spirit Mend is a great emergency heal for soloing purposes. If I'm using a spirit beast in a raid and leave the ability on autocast, it will usually end up doing several million in healing in an average fight. Due to the nature of how the autocast works, it's always used in a sticky situation and may even save someone's life by keeping them alive long enough for a bigger heal to land.
The barrier to entry for this pet has always been the fact that they're all rare spawns, but this changed in patch 5.2 with the introduction of the three spectral porcupine challenge tames. You can almost guarantee these pets will be up when you go to tame them, but they require a bit of extra work. I recommend watching this video to see how you can tame one of these. If you're looking for one of the rare spawns, by far the easiest one to find is Ghostcrawler. He is usually not being camped because he is out in the middle of nowhere, away from any quests or regular mobs.
Last week I spoke about the upcoming Lone Wolf talent and my apprehension towards the whole idea. I figured it was prudent to have the next post to be about pets and how amazing they can be. While I'm not quite sold on the Lone Wolf idea, I know plenty of hunters are. Don't worry, you're all still invited to the hunter secret meetings. After all, each one of you is one less hunter to compete against for the next spirit beast tame. Which reminds me ... you should all go Lone Wolf in Warlords. Every last one of you.
Now, Blizzard, how about that hunter pet zoo idea? As far as I know, the pet stable in garrisons is meant for battle pets but I'm hoping Blizzard will, in their infinite kindness and wisdom, extend this functionality to hunter pets. Even if our stabled pets could just wander our garrison that would be pretty neat. Our garrison is our home base and it only makes sense we keep our pets there. So, have I convinced you to put a tallstrider in your stables? What is your favorite pet that no one else seems to use?
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From raiding tips and taming rare pets to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?