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Scattered Shots: Transitioning to hunter PvP

Basil Berntsen

Welcome to Scattered Shots! Filling in for Frostheim for this post is Basil Berntsen, also of outdps and the Hunting Party podcast.

Hunter PvP is fun. It's a lot of fun. It's also something you can jump into any time, compared to raiding where you have to be in a guild that is managing to continue running content. A lot of people are getting into it for the first time but are having trouble getting started.

Start with the gear

The average hunter with a bit of PvE experience and gear will queue up for a random battleground and get mulched. Hunters are almost as squishy as mages, and until you get some resilience, you're going to die a lot. The best thing you can do while you're in this state is to use your cooldowns to extend your death, stick with healers and do as much damage as you can before you croak. Hunter damage is insanely high -- the phrase "it goes to 11" doesn't begin to cover it. The problem is that if you can die to a single warlock DoT, you won't be able to apply this pressure for long.

The process of getting the required resilience is fairly painless, if a little long. All the ilvl 264 non-set pieces are available for honor points. Assuming you want to start in battlegrounds, you want to aim for a balance between survivability (resilience and stamina) and offensive pressure (agility, AP, crit, int, and to a lesser extent, ArP and haste). Take a look at Brian's recent writeup for a better breakdown (with some good spec advice).

First off, take stock of your resources. The honor you have is part of it, but remember that Stone Keeper's Shards, old battleground marks and Wintergrasp Marks of Honor are all tradable for honor.

Your hit list for gear is here. Of this list, you want to focus on pieces that either replace something very weak for PvP or have agility in addition to resilience. If you have any really strong pieces of PvE gear, don't replace them at all until you're able to use equally strong PvP gear. At the very top of your list, you want to get:Now let's talk about gear sets. PvE gear has a lot of agility, attack power and crit, all of which are going to mean the most pressure in a fight. It's not worth sacrificing 264 PvE gear for 232 PvP gear unless you really need the resilience. It is, however, worth getting at least two pieces of the 251 PvP gear for the awesome set bonus. Additionally, all the PvP set gloves have a nifty non-stat bonus on them. In our case, it's a reduction of our tranq shot's cooldown. Unless you're sporting some really awesome PvE gloves, use the PvP ones. These 251 set pieces can be purchased with arena points and honor but have no minimum rating requirements, so you can get them with the arena points from winning a random BG per day.

Also, run VoA as often as you can. I lucked out and picked up the 270 wrathful legs that way! All the set bonuses are shared, so if you have a high-end drop from VoA and are forced to take a lower ilevel pair of gloves, you'll still get the resil and attack power set bonuses.

It took me a couple of weeks, but I am now sporting 730 resilience and maintain a lot of the offensive pressure I can put out. If I ever decide to get into arena, I'll probably start taking some of the other 264 offset pieces out of my bank that don't have any agility on them and get to 1,000.

A few notes:
  • Never, ever gem for resilience. I did this when I started, and it's a straight up loss. You sacrifice way too much pressure for the little extra survivability you get.
  • Enchants are mostly what you'd expect for PvE; however, Jurgwena, the PvP writer, put together a pretty comprehensive list last year that you can use for reference.
  • As SV or MM, you want a little spell penetration; 75 is the magic number for SV (which suffers from fire resist because explosive shot is fire damage), and MM can get away with a little less. I run with a single gem as MM, giving me 25 spell penetration.
  • Your wolf will not cut it for PvP. The extra utility of having a PvP pet more than outweighs the extra AP from the wolf. Most hunters like spiders or crabs (for their Web and Pin). There are other differentiators, but what cinched my choice (spider) was that Cornered reduces all damage taken by 60% (which can easily be combined with Mend Pet and Cower to make this pet unfairly tough), and there is a level 80 tameable spider in Icecrown.

Now what?

Every single fight will be different. Positioning is hugely important, but the basics remain the same. Understand each class you fight, and use your strengths to their weaknesses. The defining attack of hunters in PvP is Aimed Shot. Unless you have a really good reason not to, always open with this. The healing debuff it applies allows you to out-DPS a healer if you have people with you. All specs also have access to Deterrence, Disengage and Tranquilizing Shot. Good hunters will learn when and how to use these.
  • Tranq shot should be on a mouseover macro and used unless there's a stalk of broccoli around lifeblooming everyone.
  • The only attacks you can make when "pacified" by deterrence are traps, so make use of them. Also, macro a "/cancelaura deterrence" somewhere for when you need it.
  • Disengage is an amazing tool, but you'll need to learn to aim with your butt. It can be used to gain distance, cover distance and avoid death from falling (as your falling damage is recalculated based on where you disengage from).
  • Master's Call is awesome for rooting/snaring classes and can be used with mouseover macros to save allies.
  • Roar of Recovery can be used to recharge during a fight, so be aware of your mana.

Scattered Shots helps 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 versus gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101 and even solo bosses with some extreme soloing.

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