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Scattered Shots: Pure awesome

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. Got hunter questions? Feel free to email Frostheim.

Hunters are quite simply the greatest class in WoW. We have pure awesome running through our veins, fueling our every action, our every shot, driving even our smoldering good looks to new levels. For breakfast every morning, we eat a giant stack of awesome cakes topped off with a heaping helping of awesomesauce. It's not just that we're capable of doing so much, such godlike feats, as it is that we are able to do them with such style.

Whether it's careening across the field of battle with a perfectly executed jump-disengage, jump-shot kiting mobs and bosses, chain trapping or even the awesome moment of getting dropped off the Lich King's platform by a valkyr but spinning around in midair and disengaging back to safety on the platform, everything we do is done with flair. It's like we were designed to look good doing everything that we do, to incite the abject awe of onlookers.

Today we're going to set aside discussion of the minutiae of optimization and the endless slog through progression or the heroic grind. Instead we're going to rekindle that sense of pure joy that the hunter class brings to us. We're going to suggest that you embrace that joy, that spark of pure awesome, that makes the hunter the greatest class in WoW. Join me after the cut for a few suggestions of pure hunter awesome.

You don't need support classes

While it's true that WoW seeks to improve the game experience with support classes -- those tanks and healers and other DPSers whose role is enhance that hunter -- keep in mind that they are not necessary for epic hunter glory. There is little that a properly played group of hunters cannot accomplish.

Over at the WHU guild, we are all dwarven hunters, and after the event in the video above, we moved our self-imposed level cap up to level 19. Upon reaching the cap, hunters started forming all-hunter dungeon groups to tackle whatever dungeons were available to us.

They hit Shadowfang Keep, the Deadmines and even the Stockades. Finally, a group of us geared up and spent what few talent points we had available as cunningly as possible and took on Gnomeregan itself, the highest level instance that the game would let our little level 19 butts walk into. There, at last, was a challenge. After an action-packed and tense evening (the dark iron corridor at level 19 is nerve-wracking) we defeated Gnomeregan as well -- just us wee hunters.

This is just as possible (in fact much more possible) at level 80. Grab four hunter buddies and hop into a heroic. Think about what you'll need to do it, who should be what spec and what pet combination will work best. I'll bet you can put any Wrath heroic under your belt as well. You'll exercise all kinds of rusty hunter skills and problem solving, and learn to think on your feet and use your vast toolbox of abilities to avert certain disaster.

Something that we're always talking about over at the WHU guild and on the Hunting Party Podcast is doing an all-hunter raid, or at the very least, a raid where every DPSer is a hunter. I mean, it's gotta be better than a PUG, and when you really look at the buff/debuff options we can bring between us and our pets, it's impressive. There's 3% damage, 10% AP, replenishment, major armor debuff, minor armor debuff, hit reduction debuff and a host of additional minor pet debuff and abilities, from interrupts to silences to disarms to bleed damage increases.

I look forward to the day someone actually puts this together. Perhaps when the WHU baby hunters finally grow up we'll hit it, if no one else has.

Solo something

But of course, you don't need four hunter buddies to access the awesome within. You are a hunter, you can do it all on your own. Go out and solo something -- not just those silly group quests that we routinely solo while leveling, but something big.

Go take on Thrym the Hope Ender over in Zul'Drak. Show that pesky giant that you avoided while leveling just who's the boss now that you've grown up. Run over to explore Molten Core before Cataclysm washes it away. Hit Zul'Gurub for some rare mount drops or those BC heroics that you still need for achievements. If you're feeling particularly feisty, tackle some of the Wrath dungeons in normal mode. There is little that we cannot do when fueled with awesome.

The Extreme Soloing Guide here on Scattered Shots will give you the basics that you need to know to solo tons of things that you have no right doing on your own. Don't worry too much about getting specialized gear -- we out-gear content so much these days that it's less and less necessary to have a specialized soloing set. Just grab the spec, the glyphs and the tenacity pet spec and have at it.

You don't need a full raid of 25 people to find a challenge in the game -- there are plenty of challenges for a hunter to overcome all on their own!

Tank it

Hunter pets are surprisingly effective tanks with the right talents, a good amount of stamina and some PvP gear. Grab your favorite tenacity pet, trick him out, gather up some friends and tell them that you'll be the tank tonight. The dungeon finder won't let you queue as a tank, of course, but you can do it just the same.

Hunter pets can easily tank any heroic in the game, and on some fights, pet tanks are easier to heal with their 90% AoE reduction than normal tanks. Hunters have even pet-tanked many raid bosses, from Naxx to Ulduar to TotC and even Marrowgar and the Blood Prince Council. At the raid tanking level, you really do need very specific gear sets to keep your pet's health high while still maintaining good threat generation, but at the heroic level, it's quite easy. Just make sure you've got a well specced tenacity pet and 132 resilience so that your pet is crit immune and have at it.

Unlock the awesome within

Taking your hunter outside and beyond the standard raid DPS role can unveil a whole new and joyful appreciation of your class. Whether you prefer soloing your way to greatness or teaming up with other hunters to revel together in the awesomeness that is the hunter, don't forget that there's a lot more game out there than just the end game.

You just have to go looking for it.

You want to be a hunter, eh? 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. 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.

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