Welcome back to the Scattered Shots, So you want to be a Hunter series. This guide is intended to help new Hunters better understand how to play the best class in the game. So join me, Eddie "Brigwyn" Carrington from the Hunting Lodge as we explore the ins and out of how to be a Hunter.
Hail fellow Hunters! Welcome to Part 2 of So you want to be a Hunter. We started off in Part 1 by reviewing racials and their impact on the Hunter class. It was interesting to hear everyone's thoughts and preferences on the best race to play. Although many seemed to prefer Orcs and Trolls for the Horde and Dwarves and Night Elves for Alliance, there were a few that spoke up for the Draenei and Tauren as well.
This week we'll be reviewing what to expect as you level your Hunter from 1-9. Yes, we'll eventually get all the way to Level 80, just not today. No, this isn't a speed leveling guide. However, I will provide some tips on how to make leveling less of a grind.
Just to make sure we're all on the same page here's some guidelines for using this guide.
- So you want to be a Hunter is for the new player and/or a new Hunter.
- This guide is not a "How-to get to 80 in less than 3 days" leveling guide. It's more of a "What to expect as you level" guide.
- Except where highlighted, this guide does not take into account Recruit a Friend or heirloom bonuses.
- Since most players tend to level by themselves, all talent build suggestions will focus on a solo leveling/grinding build.
- This guide focuses on the leveling the PvE Hunter. We will discuss PvP and raiding in other guides.
Before we discuss how to level our Hunter, it might be a good idea to review the role a Hunter plays and the talent trees that help us accomplish it.
The Hunter's role
Hunters are a focused DPS class. Our job is to consistently shell out as much DPS as possible while the tank (our pet when we're by ourselves) distracts, harasses and keeps the mob focused on them. We have a wide range of attacks and abilities that help us accomplish this task.
We accomplish our role of providing consistent DPS by using one of the three talent trees:
Beast Mastery (BM) - A BM Hunter has an almost symbiotic relationship with their pet. A Ferocity pet can provide as much as 25% or more of the BM Hunter's total DPS. Because a BM Hunter relies on their pet for a good portion of their DPS, pet management and increasing their Attack Power are critical in achieving their full potential.
Marksmanship (MM) - The MM Hunter is less focused on the damage that their pet can provide than their BM counterparts. Unlike the BM Hunter, the Marksman Hunter focuses on their individual performance. Using a combination of Agility, Attack Power, precision and mana efficiency to provide superior DPS, MM Hunters typically view their pet's attacks and abilities as added bonus.
Survival (SV) - The SV Hunter has relationship with their pets that is similar to the MM Hunter. However, there are some differences with how each are played. For example, where the MM Hunter is almost purely focused on individual performance, the SV Hunter divides their attention between providing mana replenishment to the party, while being able to consistently string together one explosive critical strike after another. SV Hunters accomplish this amazing feat by focusing on increasing their Agility and Critical Strike Rating.
You might be wondering what is all this talk about Agility, Attack Power, Critical Strike Rating, etc... Well let's take a look at these important Hunter stats and what they mean to the Hunter.
Deciding what stat to stack is probably the most confusing area in the game today. You'll often hear that you don't need to worry about Hunter stats until you reach endgame and start raiding. Though this is technically correct, knowing which quest reward will be an increase for you and why can keep you from being a Shammy Hunter.
What's a Shammy Hunter? This is a Hunter that mistakenly stacks Shaman related gear instead of Hunter gear. (No, not everything is really Hunter Loot. Really! It's not.) How do you keep from becoming a Shammy Hunter? It really is a lot easier than it seems. All you need to know is what stat is really important to Hunters. To make it easier we'll review Hunter stats below.
Hit Rating – Without going into too much detail. Hit Rating is your chance to miss the target. This is the best and easiest way to increase your DPS. And if that is still confusing, then just remember that the most important thing is to reach the hit cap, the Hit Rating required to guarantee no misses. At level 80 the hit cap is 263 or 8% (230 or 7% if you're a Draenei).
Agility – Agility is the Marksman and Survival Hunter's main stat to stack after Hit Rating as they level and play. This is because each point in Agility adds 1 Attack Power and approximately 40 Agility adds 1% Critical Strike Rating.
Attack Power – Attack Power not only determines the Hunter's DPS, but also the Hunter's pet. This is why Beast Mastery Hunters will stack Attack Power over Agility. Don't think BM Hunters don't benefit from Agility, they do. It's just that Attack Power will give a better overall benefit.
Critical Strike – Critical Strike or "Crit" is when your attack is awarded a 100% bonus. Yes, I do mean an attack that does double the damage. This is why Marksman and Survival Hunters value Agility as a base stat so much. It can mean the difference of an Auto Shot from Giant's Bane maxing at 684 to being a 1386 crit. If that doesn't get your attention, not sure what will.
Armor Penetration – This is becoming more important than it was previously. Put simply, Armor Penetration reduces your targets armor. The major downside to this stat is how it stacks. Armor Penetration is taken into count after debuffs like Sunder Armor or Acid Spit from a worm.
Intellect – This isn't as important unless you decided to put talent points into Careful Aim. Then it is another avenue to increase your DPS by converting each point of Intellect into an equal point of Attack Power. Then this stat can add up to huge gains. But remember, it still follows building your base Attack Power or Agility.
Haste – Haste affects how quickly you are able to fire off shots. However, you will still only want to stack enough Haste to get your Steady Shot to match the Global Cooldown. This is when your Haste Rating is around 523. If you're Beast Mastery you probably don't need to worry about this, and if not then you can work on getting your Haste to the soft cap of 523 and then go back to focusing on increasing your Agility or Attack Power.
Now that we have a better understanding of what a Hunter needs to stack, we can review the first 9 levels.
There really isn't anything too exciting to talk about for the first 9 levels. The main things to learn from these levels are finding your Hunter Trainer, tracking, and maintaining your distance from your targets.
Also by level 8 you have already started learning the basics of creating and using a shot rotation. You get exposed to this concept at level 4 with the introduction of Serpent Sting. Then at level 6 you add Arcane Shot and Hunter's Mark. Then finally at level 8 you add Concussive Shot.
By level 8 you will have mastered the following attack order:
- Apply Hunter's Mark
- Concussive Shot
- Serpent Sting
- Arcane Shot
If this doesn't finish the mob before they reach you, they'll be weakened enough that Raptor Strike typically finishes them off.
When you reach level 2 you'll want to find your Hunter Trainer and begin learning your new attacks and spells. I've outlined each race's quest below.
In Part 3 we'll get into the meat of what happens as you level your Hunter. We'll discuss cool topics such as getting your first pet and how to complete those running around quests a bit faster. We'll cover these things along with other key events leveling your hunter up to level 20 and beyond.
You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. Scattered Shots is the one column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you Fix Your DPS, Choosing the Right Spec, Gear Selection, Macros and Pet Selection, Pet Specs and Management.