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Scattered Shots: The top 5 hunter raiding priorities

Brian Wood

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. 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.

It's a new year, and 2012 promises to be a year of changes throughout WoW with the new Mists of Pandaria expansion. The new year is also a time of new beginnings and of resolutions, so now seems like a fantastic time to revisit the hunter raiding basics.

Over the course of time, our focus and our skills can degrade bit by bit, bringing with it the classic DPS obsession with meters and relative position, until we're looking at those meters with blinders on, ignoring the far, far more important things we should be paying attention to.

Today we're going to look at the basic hunter priority list of what's important for you to be doing in a raid and what is the most to least important. I'm sure just about everyone knows someone who could benefit from reassessing raiding priorities. Just send them over to this post for an explanation of what's most important and why.

The goal of a raid

The top goal of a raid group is to kill bosses, preferably with as few wipes as possible. This is the combined goal of the raid team that encompasses the goals of all its members. Maybe all you care about is your sweet new loot. Then you need to kill the boss. Maybe you want the server-first kill or just to see the story. Whatever the reason, you're in a raid to kill bosses.

The priority order of what a hunter should be paying attention to in raids is what best helps the raid kill bosses. Doing the highest DPS will not always be the best thing you can do to kill the boss, even if it is the best way you have of measuring your man parts.

So here are the raiding hunter's priorities:

1. Do what the raid leader tells you. Your absolute top priority is to do what the raid leader tells you to do. Everything else on this list -- everything -- is a lower priority than following instructions. By their nature, raids don't function well by consensus. They function best with a leader who can break ties and decide on the strategy being employed.

If you think you know better than the raid leader -- and it's entirely possible that you do -- then you should do what the raid leader tells you anyway. If you deviate from your instructions, there are two possible outcomes:

  1. You wipe, and you are blamed. It doesn't matter why you really wiped, either; everyone followed instructions and you didn't, and the entire raid died -- you're going to get blamed.
  2. You disobey and kill the boss. Now the boss got killed despite your screwing up. You just got carried. Again, the truth of the matter doesn't factor here. Your initiative may have been the cause of your success, but you are still a problem raider. At best, you just insulted or slightly humiliated your raid leader. At worst, you just encouraged every other person in the raid to ignore instructions and do whatever they think is best. Either way, this is not going to make your life any better.
Obviously if the raid leader asks for suggestions, push your ideas. If you really disagree with her strategy, bring it up after the raid, not during it. During the raid you obey orders, because in the long run it works out best for the raid and for you personally.

2. Stay alive; move out of the fire. Your second priority is keeping yourself alive at all costs -- unless you need to die to follow the raid leaders' orders. Anything below this on the priority list is pointless if you're dead. Just like all DPSers, hunters can too easily get blinded by their damage dealing and tempt fate by waiting just that extra half-second before moving out of the fire to finish an Aimed Shot cast. Sometimes it works; sometimes you die.

The minuscule DPS benefit the raid gets when you succeed in no way compensates for the huge loss of an entire raid member for the rest of the fight when you fail. Paying attention to the fire, the void zones, to all the hundreds of ways that the dungeon floor wants to kill you is far more important than your rotation or your DPS. Stay alive. Move out of the fire.

I know this sounds so basic and obvious, but more than any other, this is what divides good raiders from bad. Good raiders move to where they need to be, when they need to be there. Bad don't move in time. Pay attention; be a good raider.

3. Obey fight mechanics. Many boss fights have special mechanics or special roles that hunters need to fill from time to time. This can mean kiting adds, or switching targets, or slowing targets, or pulling levers, or any of dozens of other mechanics used to make the fights interesting, challenging, and unique. The one thing these mechanics tend to have in common is that they will lower your DPS, often while other classes are blazing their way up past you on the meters.

If you're assigned to a fight mechanic, then do it. It's more important than your DPS.

One very common problem area here is target switching for add burns. This, more than any other mechanic, is where I see meter-greedy hunters think, "Aw, the others burn it down so fast anyway, I don't really need to switch ... besides, my Serpent Sting will fall off the boss if I do ..."

Do your job, no matter what it does to the meters, and do it well. The other raiders need to be able to count on you to do your job, just like you're counting on the healer to do his.

4. Reduce the damage you take. Sometimes avoiding the fire is a matter of staying alive, but other times you know you can take a tick of damage without dying -- and then that temptation to finish that last half-second cast kicks in. After all, that's what healers are for ...

Don't be this person. And that's not what healers are for. Healers are there to heal unavoidable damage and the occasional mistake. They are not there to preen your epeen.

5. DPS. That's right, we're finally here to everyone's favorite task, assaulting the damage meters until they shatter under the rightful might of our hunteritude. We're a DPS class, and the main reason we're in the raid is to do as much damage as possible.

And here's the sometimes frustrating thing: DPS is important. Without DPS, the boss will never die. The more we DPS, the shorter the fight will be and the greater the chances we'll kill the boss, even if other mistakes are made. DPS is legitimately important. Everything else on this priority list is more important, but doing all of that does not excuse poor DPS.

A good DPSer does high DPS. A good raider does high DPS and everything else on here, in this priority order. I know, our life is tough -- we have to do all this other stuff that hurts our DPS and yet we're still expected to do high DPS. Well HTFU. We're hunters, and that's just the way we roll.

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?

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