Scattered Shots: What to do in-game when there's nothing left to do

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the hunter podcast 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.or ask him on Google+.

We have entered the doldrums of the expansion, that period of time when the challenge of defeating new content is behind us, yet it's too soon to start planning for the next expansion. We don't even have the Mists of Pandaria beta to entertain us. Instead it's just the same bosses, the same loot, and the same miserable excuse for a raider winning the rolls that should go to you.

It's time to shake off those doldrums. This period of time is one of the best times of any expansion. Instead of raids that bleed away all of your time and blind you to the possibilities of the game, you are now free to go have fun. WoW is filled with challenges and adventure, but the endgame progression grind can trick you into thinking that it's the only PvE challenge available to you. It is not.

Today we're going to run through what you've been missing in WoW and how to tackle new challenges and have fun without picking up a lightsaber or waiting on pandas.

Heroic challenge practice

One way to make those old heroics fun again is to put together a top-notch team of experts and run through them as fast as possible -- preferably in a race against another team, with honor and gold on the line. While this has always been a fun pastime, it takes on new significance with the coming dungeon challenge mode in Mists of Pandaria. Here's what Blizzard has to say on the subject:

Mists of Pandaria's Challenge Mode presents a new way to reward great team players and seasoned dungeon specialists. The idea is simple: if you select Challenge Mode for a dungeon, you and your group will be racing against the clock to finish the dungeon as quickly as possible. The faster you finish, the greater your reward.

One of the great things about the coming challenge modes is that they are, in concept, supposed to be a true test of your skill and ability to work together. Sure, decked out in Dragon Soul loot, any group of five people can butcher their way though 5-mans pretty quickly. But with the challenge modes, all gear will be normalized -- meaning everyone should have approximately the same gear level in the challenge mode regardless of what they're actually wearing when they enter.

Want to know what that's like? Try stripping off that epic loot and getting together a group in all blues. Now try that heroic speed run and see what kind of time you can make. Suddenly, AoE all the way through is no longer an option, and suddenly, the dungeon becomes much, much more interesting. I've always been a huge fan of speed runs as a fun way of inserting a little competition into the guild (we made them into official guild events, with the guild bank supplying rewards), and I love the idea of doing it in all blues. (As an easier alternative, do it with green weapons and no pants.)

Extreme soloing

Can't get a group together for low-gear speed runs? No problem! As hunters, we don't even need anyone else to find some killer challenges in the game. In particular, extreme soloing has always been an activity for a certain kind of elite hunter. Suddenly, you're trying to feel your way through encounters without the step-by-step guides found all over the internet, and raw DPS throughput isn't always the best measure of success.

With extreme soloing, you'll suddenly be using crit-immune tenacity pets and using all kinds of tools from the hunter toolbox that you usually ignore. You will have to develop strategies on your own for the different boss encounters, and you'll be freely switching between all the hunter specs as you find that different specs are better suited to soloing different bosses.

Currently, the good extreme soloing challenges for hunters are mostly Wrath raid bosses. You can get your feet wet by puttering around in Naxxramas, and then move on to Ulduar and ICC. Keep in mind that unlike normal raiding, with extreme soloing, you won't necessarily be able to defeat every boss -- so part of the strategy involves determining which challenges are worth spending your time on.

Hunter extreme solo kills include Sartharion 25-man, XT-002 Deconstructor hard mode, Vezzax hard mode, Sindragosa and Algalon the Observer (video above). An offshoot of extreme soloing is of course pet tanking. You'll need an understanding raid team, but if the raids are getting dull, why not brighten them up by using a pet as your main tank with your hunter in a BM pet tanking build?

Epic WHU guild adventures

When all else fails, the WHU guild is there to entertain. For those newer readers of Scattered Shots, the WHU is a guild made up exclusively of dwarven hunters -- hundreds and hundreds of them. The guild has periodic big in-game events where we swarm across the landscape like an unstoppable army; in between, you're always surrounded by like-minded hunters happy to chat and help out. It's a great place to play with a low-level hunter alt and join some all-hunter Battlegrounds or even level up and join all-hunter Wrath raids. It's yet another example of how amazing the hunter community is -- no other class has anything like this.

In the near future, the WHU guild is going to remove the artificial level cap that we've been obeying and form the level 85 all-hunter 25-man raid team. With pets as tanks and spirit beast pets as healers, we think we can make our way through plenty of 25-man Cataclysm bosses. So if you really have nothing else to do in game anymore, the WHU is the place to go for epic hunter fun.

Anyone can join the WHU guild. To learn more about it and how to join, you can find the simple details at the WHU guild page. The next big in-game event will be on this Saturday, Feb. 18.

So what are your plans to keep busy during the end-of-expansion doldrums?

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?