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Scattered Shots: Hunter spell alerts guide

Brian Wood

Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Each week, Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

Among the host of new things patch 4.0.1 brought us hunters -- including new talents and rotations, new pet abilities and lower DPS -- was built-in spell alerts. Power Auras became such an integral part of so many people's gameplay that Blizzard finally gave us its own non-customizable version to warn us when proc-type abilities become ready.

Interestingly, this helpful addition has a lot of hunters confused. I've been getting a steady stream of emails and comments asking what certain icons mean or why they appear when they do (such as when an ability isn't ready). It seems a spell alert guide is in order.

Join me after the cut for a list of all the hunter spell alerts, what they're for and why they appear when they do. If you're totally familiar with all of them, then I have included the epic hunter video above for your day's entertainment.

Spell alert features

Spell alerts usually do four things when they trigger:

  1. You hear some kind of sound effect, letting you know that something is going on.
  2. Green text appears, letting you know what the alert is for. The text appears at your feet, floats up toward your head, then quickly fades away.
  3. An icon of some sort appears around your character. This remains until the spell alert goes away (either because you've done what it was notifying you about, or you waited too long and missed your chance).
  4. The button on our action bars associated with the spell alert lights up and remains lit up until you use or lose the ability the alert is notifying you about.
Of course, not every one of our spell alerts includes all four of these components -- in fact, we even have one without any text to let us know what it is.

Focus Fire -- beast mastery

The Focus Fire spell alert triggers as soon as your pet has five stacks of Frenzy and the Focus Fire ability is off cooldown. The spell alert displays the text "Focus Fire!" as well as the icon, and it lights up the Focus Fire button on your UI. The text quickly fades, but the icon and lit-up button remain until you hit it.

With the 15-second cooldown of Focus Fire, the cooldown is usually up a bit before your pet has all its Frenzy stacks. You can apply Focus Fire before your pet is capped on Frenzy stacks, but this robs you of a good chunk of the haste you gain from this ability. This is a very useful spell alert, since tracking your pet's frenzy stacks is otherwise a bit of a pain.

Killing Streak -- beast mastery

Killing Streak is triggered when your pet gets two Kill Command crits in a row. You see the "Killing Streak" text as well as the icon, and the Kill Command button on your UI lights up.

More than any other, this spell alert causes confusion because it lights up the Kill Command button while it's on cooldown. Be aware due to the nature of the proc, this will always happen. You don't get the proc until right after your pet gets its second Kill Command crit, which means you just pushed the Kill Command button.

This is another very useful spell alert, but it's also a bit annoying because when the Kill Command button is lit up on your UI it can be very difficult to actually see how much of the cooldown is left. Fortunately, BM hunters know to use Kill Command every fourth button press anyway, so hitting it at the right time shouldn't be difficult.

Improved Steady Shot -- marksmanship

The Improved Steady Shot spell alert is just letting you know that you got the Improved Steady Shot 15 percent haste buff.

There's nothing that you need to do -- in fact, you've already done what needs doing if you're seeing the buff. I don't really see the use of this alert, since I know if I just hit Steady Shot twice in a row. It's not so much an alert as it is a pat on the back.

Master Marksman -- marskmanship

The Fire! alert indicates that your Master Marksman talent has reached five stacks and has now triggered a free Aimed Shot. In addition to the icon and "Fire!" text, your Aimed Shot button will light up.

You have a good 8 seconds to fire Aimed Shot after it triggers, so don't feel you need to fire it immediately. If you just fired a Steady Shot, go ahead and hit a second one first to get your Improved Steady Shot buff. Likewise if your Serpent Sting is about to fall off, hit your Chimera Shot first before grabbing your free Aimed Shot.

Resistance is Futile -- marksmanship

Interestingly, this spell alert seems to be the only one that doesn't include a text alert to let you know what's proccing; however, your Kill Command button will light up.

This alert is just letting you know that your opponent has triggered Resistance is Futile and you can now slam him with Kill Command, safe in the knowledge that you'll be refunded the focus cost. Of course, you have to have the focus in the first place.

Lock and Load -- survival

The Lock and Load spell alert is letting you know that your Lock and Load has procced and you can now get your two free, non-cooldown Explosive Shots or Arcane Shots. In addition to the text and icon, both your Explosive Shot and Arcane Shot buttons will light up.

I know a lot of hunters really wish that Arcane Shot wasn't included in the Lock and Load proc, so that we could use it to bleed focus in smaller amounts in between Explosive Shot (rather than using the more expensive Kill Command) -- but alas, hunters have been complaining about this since the beginning of the beta, and no change still. It looks like this one is probably here to stay.

Kill Shot -- all specs

The only hunter spell alert without an icon, the Kill Shot alert is letting you know that your opponent is now at or below 20 percent health and ready for you to unload some nice, focus-free Kill Shots in his general direction. The alert is only warning you about where your enemy's health is -- it is possible to have the alert while Kill Shot is on cooldown.

Don't forget that if you have the Glyph of Kill Shot, then if your first Kill Shot doesn't kill your target, you'll get the cooldown instantly reset and be able to fire a second time in a row.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. Our Scattered Shots Resource Guide takes aim at everything from improving your heroic DPS, understanding the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.

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