The beloved ability that this column was once named after, Scatter Shot, has been lost to time. It didn't feel right to change things up at this point. Scattered Shots will always be Scattered Shots. Besides, I wouldn't want to risk upsetting Grandpappy Frostheim. I hear he has a contingent of level 1 dwarven hunters who follow him around and do whatever he commands. Hogger didn't survive, and neither would I.
Quite a bit has happened for hunters since I was last able to write this column 11 months ago. The Warlords beta and first few weeks of release was somewhat of a roller coaster, but things are settling down. Outside of high-end raiding progression, all 3 hunter specs are competitive with each other. Our major talents are getting buffed and re-balanced in the upcoming patch 6.1. Overall, I think hunters are in a pretty good place.
As for me, I've been splitting my time between playing beast mastery and survival fairly equally. Beast mastery is still my favorite spec, but it's hard to ignore how strong survival is at the moment. Blizzard truly buffed it from obscurity to be the strongest overall DPS spec for hunters. But if you don't like survival, it's OK because the other specs are pretty darn close. In a case like this, I'm a big proponent of just playing what you enjoy. I think you'll do better in a spec you are proficient at and erase any of the small DPS differences anyway. There are some troublesome areas like marksmanship AoE performance and beast mastery single target performance (to a lesser extent), but these can be tweaked.
I'd love to delve deeper into patch 6.1 changes, but I don't really want this final Scattered Shots to be about numbers and technical things. I'd rather just take a moment to celebrate hunters.
Me and my hunter
My love affair with the hunter class started when I saw the original WoW cinematic trailer. A friend was trying to get me into the game and showed it to me. When the video finished, the first words out of my mouth were, "I can have a pet bear?" He went on to tell me about all of the classes, but I didn't care about those. I just wanted my own pet bear. Like that badass dwarven hunter in the cinematic.
Then, almost exactly 10 years ago, I logged into WoW for the first time and rolled my dwarven hunter, Bendak. Like a true hunter newbie, I was melee attacking everything in sight. I was also confused since we didn't get pets until level 10 at the time. I joined my friend's guild and my first question was, "where do I get a pet bear?"
I'd have to say that pets are still my favorite aspect of the class. I love doing silly things like matching them with my mounts and spending an inordinate amount of time picking names for them. Of course, it's not the only reason I play a hunter. I play a hunter because I like having a tool for any job. I play a hunter because we have amazing abilities like Disengage and Feign Death. I play a hunter because there's no such thing as a group quest when you have a pet. I play a hunter because I love seeing the color green on the top of DPS meters. I play a hunter because I love knocking people off of high places with my glyphed Explosive Trap. I play a hunter because whenever I play another class, I miss all the things my hunter can do.
Favorite pet taming moment: Being one of the first players on my server to tame Loque'nahak. I immediately flew to Dalaran to show it off. Dozens of whispers filled my chat log, and for a moment I was the coolest hunter around. I literally had a crowd gathered around me.
Favorite raiding moment: My first successful trip to Molten Core, where I won the Giantstalker's Leggings by outrolling 7 other hunters in the raid. It was my first real epic item. I did not sleep that night.
Favorite PvP moment: Getting rank 10 (Lieutenant Commander) back in vanilla. Playing a hunter in PvP was basically god mode back then. I have to admit that I felt slightly guilty every time I one-shotted a mage with my Aimed Shot crits. But damn was it fun.
Favorite community moment: When the hunter community banded together to solve the Gara mystery on the Warlords beta. It was fun seeing everyone else in game, tossing ideas back and forth on the Petopia forums and Twitter, and the general excitement of discovering every new clue. It was truly a group effort.
I could go on, but these posts have word count limits. The hardest part about this job was trying to distill my thoughts, because I seriously could drone on about hunters and WoW forever. The best part about this job? The first time a random hunter whispered me in game and asked me if I was the Bendak from Scattered Shots.
Looking back at Scattered Shots
Scattered Shots had a total of 302 columns (including this one). That's a lot of hunter talk. I managed to write 24 of them. It seemed like more, but I guess that's because of all the other posts I wrote here.
Looking back at some of the old posts, here are a few that stand out as classics from the Frostheim era. If you have any other favorites, please link them in the comments!
Frostheim's hunter predictions for 2011, 2012, and 2013. I kept this tradition going with predictions for 2014. How'd I do?
There are many more, but those were just a few of the standouts. And who can forget all of the Big Red Kitty posts? As for my own Scattered Shots articles, if I could pick a few favorites it would be the following:
I loved doing Scattered Shots so much that I ended up starting my own hunter blog when it was over. WoW Insider was my first foray into blogging and I'm grateful I had the opportunity. I think the best part was how welcoming all the readers were when I first started. Frostheim left some big shoes to fill, but you guys were supportive. Thank you.
Hunter community resources
The hunter community is alive and well! The Warcraft Hunters Union is back and being updated again. There are several other regularly updated hunter blogs to read, new guides, and resources to check out.
The Hunting Party Podcast has also made its return, going live every second Sunday morning to talk about nothing but hunters! We often feature special guests from the hunter community, such as our last episode where we had Rogerbrown from Method on the show to talk about hunters and the world first race. A few episodes before that we were joined by the one and only BigRedKitty.
And with that, there's really not much else to say. I'm sorry if I got your hopes up when you saw a new Scattered Shots column. I just thought it would be cool to have one final column as a send off. I had the benefit of still writing for WoW Insider unlike most of the former class columnists, so I was afforded this opportunity.
I'm going to leave you with our anthem. Farewell, hunters.