Scattered Shots: Scatter-trapping with grace and ease

hunter wins blizzcon arena championship

Frostheim appears to be decimated, unable to write this week, over the loss of the most recent raiding gun from the patch 4.3 PTR files. As someone who PVPs to get my first raiding weapon of most patches, I can choose whichever ranged death-dealing machine I want. Of course, as a Worgen (not to mention someone who is generally the butt of many of Frostheim's jokes on our podcast), I usually choose a crossbow after buying, returning and screenshotting the gun.

Today, Scattered Shots will be all about a very basic hunter PVP survival skill: scatter-trapping. All hunters of all specs can scatter-trap, and whether you're being ganked doing dailies, trying to win Baradin Hold, or doing competitive Arena, it's one of those skills that can really set you apart.

Traps on their own are only useful for people you can force to cross through them. Mostly, this means melee, although you can sometimes force a ranged player to cross a trap if you're humping a pillar properly. What do we do when we want to freeze someone who isn't chasing us, though? Freezing Trap is really our most effective crowd control ability. We'll often want it to be used on someone that matters like a healer. Unfortunately, short of stepping up to a healer and dropping a trap on them, there's no way to force them to cross our path.

Silly hunters, that's why we got Trap Launcher!

Trap Launcher is part of the solution. It allows us to spend a bit of focus and throw the next trap anywhere within 40 yards. Alas, it's not perfect. It takes a global cooldown to use, and then even when we successfully launch the trap, that trap takes a good second or so to become active.

If we're lucky enough to be firing this trap from Camouflage while stationary, our desired target can't see where the trap was placed, and if they're standing still or moving predictably, we might be able to get a trap triggered. If we're moving in Camo or not stealthed at all, then it's graphically obvious to the target that a hunter trap was just placed at their feet, and it's a simple matter to take a step to the left and avoid the trap completely. If only there were some way to force a target to stay in the general vicinity of a trap ...

Oh yeah, scatter shot!

If we can land a Scatter Shot right before we place our trap, we are able to force our target into the trap. It only lasts 4 seconds, but that's long enough for the arming effect of the trap (assuming we are within the much shorter range of Scatter Shot). This ability, combined with the trap and the launcher, are the trifecta of "almost good enough" crowd control that we call scatter-trapping.

That said, there's a right way and a wrong way to scatter trap. Pay attention, because doing it wrong will get you laughed at in Battlegrounds. This is the right way:

  • Pre-cast your launcher when you have the focus if it will ensure that you don't put yourself in a position where you won't have enough focus to fire your next signature shot. The launcher is on its own global cooldown, so you can cast it between instants. If you misjudge and let the launcher buff fall off, it'll go back on its cooldown, preventing you from re-casting it for a moment.

  • Use a focus or mouseover macro to Scatter Shot your target. This will incur a global cooldown like any other instant shot, which prevents you from aiming your trap. I use this time to get my mouse where I want the trap to be, and if I'm feeling comfortable with my latency, I sometimes also use this cooldown to cast my launcher. Scatter Shot helpfully turns off your auto-attack, preventing you from accidentally breaking the effect.

  • While waiting for the cooldown, I spam the trap macro, which reads /cast !freezing trap. The exclamation mark is to prevent you from turning your targeting reticule on and off, making it so that if you spam it, you will get a green target as soon as it's ready. As soon as I see the target, I click, and the trap is launched. You want to try to aim your trap around where the target was standing when they were Scatter Shot.

The wrong way to scatter trap is to do it on a target that you have bleeds, DOTs, or a Serpent Sting on. Waiting too long between Scattering and launching your trap is another mistake, as is losing your launcher buff just before you use the trap ability. Nothing is funnier than watching a hunter place a freezing trap at their feet after scattering a healer.

Eating traps

In general, to reduce the effectiveness of a hunter's CC, all the enemy has to do is ensure that someone other than a healer gets hit by the trap. This is because healers can cleanse the trap off anyone if they're not the ones in the trap. As soon as my healer starts wandering around blinded in a match against a hunter, I disengage right over to her and start trying to "eat" the trap. If I get it before she does, she can waltz away when the 4-second blind is over and continue preventing us from dying. Very good teams will save a root for whoever is closest to the healer when they're scatter trapping. As a hunter, you can root with a spider or another trap (although that'd be tricky), and you can stun if you're a beastmaster.

Another way to prevent a hunter from getting a trap off is to stun or silence (yes, silence) them as soon as they Scatter anyone. Their Scatter will dissipate, the target will wander off, and the hunter will be back at phase one, forced to try and get someone to cross their path or stand still for a few seconds.

Other ways to get people to stand still for a few seconds

Of course, Scatter Shot isn't the only thing you can do to ensure a trap hits. It's the best thing you can do without help, but if you have a teammate who can cast some sort of short-term movement-impairing CC (roots, snares, blinds, stuns), you can trap their target. If you have Entrapment , you might be able to get a really nifty trap off if you ever notice a healer get caught in the AOE root. This is unreliable, though, and a lot of marks hunters elect to take points in One With Nature instead of Entrapment.

The power of the Freezing Trap

Don't get me wrong, if you can land a trap on a healer who has already used his trinket, it's a full 8-second CC. This is what wins Arena matches, and being a hunter who can reliably get a trap landed will set you apart from the legions.

Even using it perfectly, though, doesn't bring this ability to nearly the usability level of other classes' crowd control abilities. We know that hunters are getting some nice PVP bonuses in the future, but unfortunately it won't be here in time for the next season. Patch 4.3 is probably going to be almost as hard for us in PVP as this patch was.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter and choosing the best patch 4.2 gear to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?