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Scattered Shots: Pet buffs and the best hunter pet

Brian Wood

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+.

Throughout Cataclysm I spent a lot of time explaining to hunters that the pet paradigm had changed and there was no longer one right answer to "What is the best pet?" Instead of being able to answer cat, or wolf, or whatever the pet of the moment was, the answer was: it depends.

Well, with the changes to hunter pets in Mists of Pandaria the answer is now that it depends even more.

The best pet to bring to your raid or heroic is going to change based on your group composition -- and in fact can even change based on the skill of your team members. Let's first take a look at which pets bring which raid buffs, then get down to how to select your pet.

But fair warning in advance: choosing the right pet isn't a matter of following a flowchart or plugging in an addon. You have to use your brain (in your head).

Hunter pet buffs

Following are all the hunter pets and what raid buff or debuff they bring. Note that we're specifically looking only at the raid buffs and debuffs, skipping over the myriad of PvP abilities pets have.

5% increased stats

Burst haste
10% attack speed
5% spell haste
10% spell power
5% critical strike
Increased mastery
Weakened armor
Physical vulnerability
Magic vulnerability
Cast speed slow
Physical damage reduction
The best pet

All ferocity pets do the same amount of DPS -- and now you can make any pet a ferocity pet. The only difference is the raid buff that they bring. The best pet to bring is the one that will help your raid group the most.

In a broad sense this means that you want to bring the pet that brings the raid buff that your group is missing. In a 25-man raid, including Raid Finder, you can be almost certain that you already have all buffs covered. In that case you can bring whatever pet you like the most.

In a 10-man there are good odds that you'll need a pet buff. If you're missing just one buff or debuff, the answer is easy: bring the pet that fills that gap.

If you're missing multiple buffs, you need to bring the one that will help the raid as a whole the most. This usually means the one that will give your raid the most DPS. Unfortunately, there's no flowchart answer to this -- it depends on your raid composition. If you have mostly physical DPSers, for example, the physical vulnerability debuff is going to help you more, whereas if you have more magical DPS the magic vulnerability will help you more.

Even worse, it can also depend on the performance of your group. Maybe you have 3 magic DPSers and two physical, but the physical DPS way outperform the magic, so it's still worth buffing them more. You need to take into consideration the needs of the raid as a whole, as well as the specific boss mechanics (for example, if a burn phase is very important Ancient Hysteria could be vital).

A final thing to consider is even if your 10-man has all the raid buffs it needs, it may still benefit from hunter pet buffs. Most classes that bring buffs do it effortlessly (like our Trueshot Aura), but sometimes it may take up part of their rotation. By bringing the buff via pet you could open up their rotation for more DPS abilities. Be sure to check with your raid mates to see if any of them would prefer you handled their buff.

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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