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BigRedKitty: Channeling Larry King

Daniel Howell
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.

Dear BigRedKitty,


Yours In Friendship,

The Non-WotLK Beta Hunter Community

P.S. WWWUUUAAGHHH!! Seriously.

So. Are you hunters suitably Wrath-Freaked yet? Now now, be honest. You've read articles, forums, and some bloggers. You've been skimming the talent lists, the spells, and the patch notes. And your world is spinning.

Aspect Mastery is nerfed! Lock and Load has been gutted! Did you see what they did to Expose Weakness! Cats got kneecapped! Too many pets! Sporebats don't suck? Where'd the crit go! Rogues can avoid Flares?! Haste is a Lie! A damn lie, I say!

Oh behave. We've been in the beta a long time, leveled as all three specs, tried just about every pet there is, had the game lock up due to lag in every zone available in Northrend, and we're still breathing.

So grab yourself a raspberry latte and come join us in a calm, cool discussion about what hunters are going to be doing in WotLK.

Except for Death Kniggets, no class got more new toys than Hunters. Mages and Paladins and the other lesser classes got some presents under their WotLK-tree, but we got so many gifts, we can't see the floor. It's good to be us!

The primary purpose of a Hunter is to provide massive quantities of sustained, ranged, DPS. So sayeth BRK, so let it be done. This, my friends, shall not change in WotLK, so be prepared to get out there and smash stuff.

We thrive at range and use tricks and strategy to get the F-outta melee. No change here, just more tools at our disposal to get this accomplished.

Certain classes will fear us, and they should. You are permitted to grin wickedly, crack your knuckles, and plan their destruction.

Certain classes will consider us nothing but a mild annoyance and /pfft in our general direction.

A properly played Survival hunter will still be the most slippery eel in the entire game. Although the emphasis on "properly played" is going to be stronger than ever.

Marksman shall be reborn to greatness, foshizzle! We shall all welcome our brother Marksman back into the raiding-fold.

Survival won't be such a DPS-loser anymore. Your Expose Weakness-sacrifice shall no longer be so severe.

Beastmastery populations shall diminish in vast quantities. Vast, we say. /sniff

Do you remember the launch of the Burning Crusade when all the druids spec'd as Trees and all the Warlocks had Felguards? Well, you're going to see an invasion of Devilsaurs, Core Hounds, and Rhinos the likes of which will make your eyes bug out. The fad should diminish eventually, but for the first couple of weeks, it's going to be a Beef Parade, and we don't mean semi-naked firemen in a calendar.

If you see a Cat in Northrend, you're going to look at that hunter as if he's living in the past, (and don't think this doesn't just frost our biscuits!) Until cats get a better Prowl - or even better, a replacement spell - you won't see many of them any more.

Rogues are going to shriek for Hyena-nerfs like rabid Chihuahuas chugging Red Bull and funneling chocolate-covered cappuccino beans, just like they always have. The resulting massive silence of no other class caring about 'em will be gratifying.

(It's not that we hate rogues, we just love chasing them down when they run away the second they start to lose a fight. We're not sayin', we're just sayin'.)

Hyenas will continue to have super-boring skins, easily making them The Best Pet With The Most Boring Look in WotLK.

A huge majority of hunters will train the level-74 wolf that looks like a warlock mount. Until they abandon it when they realize that it's... just a wolf. Cute paddie-paws, though, of that there's no doubt.

Many a warlock is going to get attacked by a Nether Ray and subsequently throw their computer in the pool.

"If you see a Core Hound, kill it immediately! AAUUGGH!" will become part of every Paladin's pre-PvP macro.

Warriors are going to murder the poor Birds of Prey hunters use to disarm them. Murder 'em by the bushel.

Bears are totally not going to get the respect they're due. Swipe rocks! Marksmen, this is the pet you'll want for leveling and grinding. You anti-Rhino/Worm BM-hunters, too.

Wasps will become the most popular all-around pet in the game; everyone will have one. They look cool and they have a great attack spell that is tremendously useful in both PvE and PvP.

There will be more non-51 point hunters than ever before; this expansion could be known as The Rise of Hybrid Hunter. For example, a 50/21/0 BM hunter will have the massive DPS-talents that the BM-tree gives, save the exotic pet, and he will use that 21st point in the Marksman tree for Scattershot. A 0/26/45 SV hunter would have the most powerful traps ever known, Readiness, Sniper Training, plus Scattershot. Does that grab you where it hurts? It just might.

Likewise, The Age of the Raiding Macro-Masher could be over. Since Auto Shot is uncoupled from all other shots, there is no need to weave Auto with Steady Shot or any other shot. Maximizing DPS will be an exercise in timing the use of the other special shots, not in obtaining a perfect attack-speed weapon and spamming a macro.

Since the The Age of the Raiding Macro-Masher could be over, the DPS of your average hunter versus the other DPS classes will probably decrease. Whereas hunters used to dominate almost all pre-Tier 6 DPS charts, the frequency that a hunter will get the top spot will decrease, as more skill will be required to maximize our potential. Skill > Gear, and WotLK is going to prove that for our class.

Hunters will want to run with Ferocity and Cunning pets, but the other lesser classes will ask us to bring Tenacity pets to instances. Although our pets will not get Resilience in WotLK, Tenacity pets will get +40% healing bonuses that will make them very effective off-tanks, and possibly main tanks in five-person dungeons.

(Note that we are heavily biased in favor of pet-tanking in regular instances, if for no other reason than it'd be freakin' cool. We understand that others may have a different opinion and cite the fact that hunter pets cannot stack Defense or other standard tanking-stats. That opinion is, of course, perfectly valid. Boring, but valid.)

Our massive thirst for mana will keep hunters from rolling on Intellect-free leather-gear. Thank Elune. While the rest of the lesser classes are buying WoW-hybrids that can run on mana and electricity, hunters have all just bought Hummer H2s with superchargers and leaky mana-tanks. You're not going to believe how quickly you'll run through mana; no more leather for you.

There will be lively arguments both for and against the new Improved Arcane Shot. Hunters who love to kite in PvP will immediately realize how much they miss that one-second reduction in cooldown. We sure did.

With Improved Stings only three points deep, there's going to be a massive rise in the number of hunters who don't eschew Serpent Sting, because it has always been so mana-inefficient.

Disengage will be the most controversial hunter talent, ever. We can't wait to hear the stories of hunters Disengaging themselves off of cliffs or into the path of roaming elites. We're going to laugh and laugh!

Due to the volume of spittle-shrieks launched at the hunter-developers, the new Aspect of the Viper spell will generate more bans on the hunter-forums than any other subject, period. Keep it PG-13 folks, even though you're not going to want to.

Some bright Survivalist hunters will notice the change to Improved Feign Death... um, we mean Survival Tactics, and greedily train it, laughing all the way to the arena.

These are the same people who will look at the new Combat Experience and guffaw at how little a buff it got and wonder why Blizzard even bothered. Smart hunters they are.

Improved Aspect of the Hawk will be one the best talent most hunters never take. It's free Haste in a Haste-Friendly environment, folks.

Chimaera Shot is going to cause a lot of freakout-meldowns. "What am I attacking?! A Warrior?! I gotta put Scorpid Sting on him! Wait, it's a Ret Pally! Viper Sting! NO! SCORPID!! AUUGGHH!!"

And finally, we'll all be screaming for even more pet stable-slots. Screaming like banshees hooked up to electric chairs while holding upside-down cacti in our laps.

From his video guides to Karazhan For Hunter Dummies, nobody covers raid Hunters like BRK. Looking for more Hunter goodness? Check out our non-raid Hunter column, Scattered Shots or the WoW Insider Directory of Hunter Guides.

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