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Scattered Shots: Hunting the ICC Lower Spire

Brian Wood

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class.

ICC Lower Spire offers four separate opportunities for hunters to shine like the radiant beacons of death we are. In addition to the normal assortment of target switching and void zone dancing in boss fights, we even have an encounter that has many raid leaders on their knees and begging for more hunters!

So step with me beyond the cut and through the doors of Icecrown Citadel for a look at how to optimize your hunter performance on the first four speed bumps in the path to the Lich King.

We're going to focus on hunter-specific information here. We are assuming that you've familiarized yourself with the fight and, as always, if your raid leader tells you to do something specific that contradicts anything here you always do what the raid leader says. Even if he's wrong.

Lord Marrowgar

The first boss in ICC is a relatively easy one, both in 10-man and 25-man, and requires good awareness of fight timing to maximize hunter DPS. It is very easy to be caught without the right shots available, or to waste global cooldowns on unnecessary abilities.

In phase 1 Marrowgar is parked in place and it is our job to maintain good sustained DPS on Marrowgar, take down Bone Spikes, and avoid the occasional Coldflame.
  • Position yourself within range of the other ranged DPSers -- don't go hiding out in a far corner. You want them to be able to easily DPS you down if you get spiked. Likewise, you want your healers to be able to heal you!
  • Killing Bone Spikes is your top priority. You should have the macro "/tar bone" ready to spam a second before the Bone Spike finishes casting.
  • On the Bone Spikes, don't bother with Hunter's mark, your pet, or Serpent Sting. The spikes go down fast and all of those will be a waste.
  • Time your shots so that you have an Arcane Shot or Explosive Shot available the moment Bone Spike is cast.
  • For MM, don't use your Chimera Shot on Bone Spikes. Switch back to Marrowgar for an instant to fire off the Chimera on him (refreshing your Serpent Sting) and then go instantly back to the Bone Spike target.
  • Avoid Coldflame. However, if a spiked target is out of range, don't be afraid to run through a Coldflame if you have to. It's not a big deal to hit it just for a second and it's more important to DPS down the Bone Spikes.
In phase 2 Marrowgar flips out and chases people (four of them, in a row) while doing AOE damage and spewing Coldflame like some kind of horrible gnomish intestinal disorder. It's easy to get a bit flustered with all the action, but if you keep your cool you'll realize that there's not so much going on after all.
  • In general, you want to just stand still and shoot. Don't get too worried about the AOE damage, it's not huge and your healers should have no problems.
  • You don't want to be too close to Marrowgar though -- the closer you are the more damage you'll take. If he ends up near you, just Disengage back to a reasonable distance.
  • Keep an eye on the Coldflames throughout the room and adjust your positioning preemptively so you never get caught in the path of one.
  • If you are unlucky and Marrowgar ends up near you after multiple target switches, you could end up having to do some running. Just remember to jump-shot and let auto shots off while you're getting back to a safe distance.
  • Marrowgar wipes threat as he transitions from phase 2 back into phase 1. It is absolutely your responsibility to have Misdirection up a second before the transition to instantly snap aggro to the main tank.
Lady Deathwhisper

Lady D is a fight with a lot of target switching that definitely favors hunters and our ability to maintain our DOTs on the boss while flipping across targets without losing a beat. The 25-man version of this fight has Deathwhisper mind-controlling players. The 10-man version does not have this, and makes the 10-man fight much easier. In either version, the key to this fight is very high DPS across the board to get the adds down fast.

During phase one you will most likely be assigned to DPS the adds, and then DPS Lady D in between waves of adds. If you're very lucky, your RL might put you permanently on Lady D, in which case you're living the easy life.
  • Move out of Death and Decay.
  • Stay within range of Lady D if at all possible.
  • Toss out Freezing Arrows to try to CC mind-controlled players. If you're SV, you'll want to do this even if they're sheeped to force the Lock & Load procs.
  • All damage done to Lady D will reduce her mana shield. This means that your Serpent Sting is better at reducing her mana than your Viper Sting! Only use Viper Sting to replenish your own mana when you need it. The idea that Viper Sting is better on her is just a myth.
  • Keep your pet on the boss the entire fight.
  • Try to keep a Serpent Sting on the boss even while you're on the adds. For MM hunters, you can use alternating Chimera Shots on lady D to maintain your Serpent Sting on her with zero downtime.
  • Remember to MD the adds to the appropriate tank when you first engage them.
  • The adds should go down fast. Don't bother with Hunter's Mark. If you're in a raid with good DPS, you also won't want to use Serpent Sting.
  • Use Multi-Shot at every opportunity.
  • Remember, you can freely DPS all of the adds before they are reanimated. There are no restrictions to the normal adds.
  • Prioritize empowered adds and Reanimated Adherents. Remember to only use physical damage on Reanimated Adherants -- that means lots of Steady Shots.
  • Don't bother with Reanimated Fanatics. Let the pure magic types deal with them.
  • Be aware of Curse of Torpor and stop casting for a second if you get it. If your raid DPS is good, you will almost never see this.
In phase two life gets much easier without any more adds. For the most part you'll just sit and DPS the boss.
  • Be sure you have your cooldowns available for phase two.
  • Use Misdirection at every opportunity. The tanks get a stacking threat reduction debuff, and threat is an issue. Even if your threat is okay, use your MD to help out your teammates.
  • Use Feign Death preemptively to drop your threat. Don't wait for a warning, because your tank's threat production will be continually dropping. If you get at all close, be safe and FD.
  • Avoid the ghosts that pop up. They hit hard and move faster than you'd think, so move away from them early. Disengage is again your friend here.
Gunship Battle

This fight is just pure sky-pirating fun. It's the easiest fight in ICC and is generally easier in 25-man than 10-man. For the most part you can just sit back, move out of void zones, and enjoy the most cinematic boss fight in the history of WoW.

As a hunter we will most likely be defending our ship, where our range and MDs are most effective. For defenders:
  • Move out of the rocket strikes. You have tons of notice and there's really no excuse for standing in them.
  • You have a good amount of time before the portals open where you can stand on the edge of your ship and DPS down the axe throwers on the enemy ship. Take advantage of this to reduce the raid damage. Any time there are no adds on your ship, you should be DPSing down the enemy axe throwers.
  • On 10-man you'll need to single-target (and Multi-Shot) focus fire down the adds as they come. In 25-man you'll just AOE them all down.
  • Be sure to MD to the defending tank at the beginning of each portal wave.
  • If you're running low on mana, you can always go into viper in between portals and charge up your mana while DPSing down the enemy axe throwers.
There is always a possibility that you'll be asked to go on the offense, or to help the offense out just on the Battlemages.
  • Your pet will probably not join you when you rocket pack over. It will sit on the railing looking at you with those sad, sad puppydog eyes.
  • Never go over before your tank. Be sure your tank jumps over first.
  • Never be on the enemy ship without your tank. Always leave before him.
  • Mark the Battlemage and go all out. For most groups you'll be leaving as soon as he's dead.
  • When jumping back, be sure that you are not jumping into an incoming rocket strike. If one appears just after you jump, you'll still have plenty of time to get out of the way. In other words, getting hit by rockets is still 100% your fault.

With the immense power granted him by the Lich King, there is only one thing that Saurfang fears, and that is hunters. The combination of slow traps and kiting abilities make hunters the rock stars of the Saurfang fight, and a few skilled hunters make the encounter much easier for any raid team.

They key to the fight is managing the Blood Beasts. In all likelihood as a hunter we are going to be asked to DPS the Blood Beasts. In 10-man that almost certainly means you'll be kiting one of the two Blood Beasts. There is a greater variety of strategies in dealing with the five Blood Beasts that spawn in 25-man, but as long as you're DPSing a Blood Beast, odds are that you'll end up kiting one or two (or three) of them. SV with Aimed Shot is the spec of choice for Blood Beast duty due to the burst damage advantage from forcing Lock & Load procs with slowing traps, not to mention the damage advantage of magic shots on targets without debuffs.
  • Blow your Rapid Fire when you engage. It may well be the only time that you have 15 seconds to stand in place and shoot.
  • You should never, ever, ever take a single point of damage from the Blood Beasts. Avoiding being hit by the beasts is more important than maintaining your position.
  • You must get the Blood Beasts off of the melee cluster at once.
  • Blood Beasts take radically reduced damage from AOE; however, if you Volley the melee cluster a second before the beasts spawn, you can instantly pull them away from the melee cluster.
  • You should have a Frost Trap placed between you and Saurfang before every Blood Beast spawn.
  • Be sure to have a fresh Serpent Sting on Saurfang before the Blood Beasts spawn, so that you'll be doing damage to him while you're demonstrating your mad kiting skills.
  • I like to use Black Arrow on Saurfang at the beginning of the fight, and thereafter I save it for the Blood Beasts spawn. You never want your Lock & Load to be on internal cooldown when the beasts spawn. You really want those three Explosive Shots on them!
  • You may want to use Distracting Shot on one of the beasts that you are not DPSing to pull it into your trap zone and give the lesser DPSers some more time on it. I prefer to save Distracting Shot to help out people getting cornered by Blood Beasts.
  • Once the beast is out of your slow zone, if it's not almost dead use Concussive Shot if you feel you need the extra time.
  • Remember when kiting if you have a good lead, pause for that fraction of a second to let your Auto Shot fire as well.
  • If you find yourself cornered, you can always use a jump-Disengage to get back to range.
  • Once the Blood Beasts are down, remember to return to your original position. Failure to return to where you should be standing is a common error in this fight.
  • Disengage is useful both in kiting and in returning to your spot.
And there we have it -- the Lower Spire crushed beneath the might of the hunter, with some cameos by other classes. One of the fun things about Lower Spire is that the fights are not all about the meters. In general no ranged DPS are going to compete with the lazy melee slackers on Marrowgar and Saurfang. For those fights the melee just sit in place and do their thing while we swap targets on an instant's notice, trap, kite, and generally have an oppotunity to demonstrate our raiding skills.

If you wish you could just sit in place and DPS all-out, then you'll like our first stop in the Plagueworks, coming next week on Scattered Shots!

You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the 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.

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