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Pets

Guide to Pet Tanking Heroic Morchok

Just over a week ago the video above appeared on YouTube showing Lazyguide of Ner’zhul pet tanking 10-man Heroic Morchok. I already had an inkling this is possible after the Warcraft Hunters Union on Icecrown took down Morchok on normal mode with a 10-man hunter group in July, but I never researched it any further at the time.

Because the video appeared after my guild’s weekly Dragon Soul run, I had to make my own attempt a week later on the next lockout. We had already planned to try new things on this raid because our paladin healer wanted to try single healing Heroic Ultraxion (which was also successful), so convincing them that Heroic Morchok can be pet-tanked was not difficult. After all, I already had a reputation on my server as the hunter who tanked Argaloth back in tier 11. (At one point I pet-tanked Argaloth every week for over a month.)

Our kill took five attempts or so after playing around with group arrangements and positioning and improvising pulling strategies, but it was successful. With one lockout remaining before Dragon Soul is no longer considered “current”, this guide should help anyone wants to try out this encounter for the final week of Cataclysm.

Before we start, I do want to make one disclaimer:

You do not have to choose the Beast Mastery specialization to tank Heroic Morchok.

I personally pet-tanked with a Marksmanship specialization because I can use the hard-hitting combination of Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot to generate more Misdirection threat to my pet.

Preparation

Although all pets can now be a tenacity pet, I would still recommend using a turtle or a beetle because of their respective abilities Shell Shield and Harden Carapace, which can reduce damage taken by 50 percent for 12 seconds.

One talent is required in pet tanking this encounter: Spirit Bond, which gives the hunter and his/her pet passive healing. Blink Strike can also be useful for your pet’s quick positioning, but is optional if you are already comfortable with pet management.

Three major glyphs are also required: Glyph of Misdirection, Glyph of Animal Bond, and Glyph of Mending (not to be confused with Glyph of Mend Pet).

Finally, you will want to create a Misdirection macro to go along with your glyph. A simple example is below. (Nanghul is the name of my beetle, so you will want to change that.)

#showtooltip Misdirection
/castrandom [target=Nanghul] Misdirection
/yell Misdirecting to Nanghul!

If you would like to create a safety margin for your pet’s health, bringing along a Flask of Steelskin might not be a bad idea.

Encounter

This encounter can be done with two or three healers, depending on how comfortable your healers are with healing your pet. You will want an additional tank to pick up Morchok’s twin Kohcrom.

The pet should make the initial pull with Misdirection from the hunter. The other tank should not use taunt abilities for the first phase of the fight. This is because once Morchok splits into two, he seems to maintain the aggro table from the first phase. We would like to avoid an accident where the other tank finds himself tanking Kohcrom and Morchok at the same time.

Because Morchok splits to the right, the hunter (blue circle in the blueprint above, with the pet marked in orange) should be positioned to the group on the right. One healer should be assigned to each group. The third person in the hunter group can be another healer or a DPS which can drop his own aggro table (I will explain why later).

Once the other tank has stabilized Kohcrom’s position, the remainder of the encounter can now begin. Stomp does not affect the hunter pet, thus it can be entirely avoided with everyone in the hunter group staying at least 25 yards away from Morchok. Additionally, with more people on the left group, the damage from Stomp can be split across more people.

Two people must remain with the hunter because Resonating Crystal splits damage among three people in 10-man. (Damage is split among seven people on 25-man difficulty, so at least a 19–6 group split will be necessary in that encounter.)

The tricky portion of the encounter begins when Morchok and Kohcrom draws everyone in with Earthen Vortex. When this happens, the hunter pet appears to despawn and drop all aggro from the boss, thus prompt reapplication of Misdirection toward the pet is necessary. This is when the other DPS with the hunter should use his aggro reset ability to make it easier for the hunter pet to regain aggro. Not doing so may result in chaos.

Pets are also not affected by Black Blood of the Earth, so send it toward Morchok immediately after Earthen Vortex is over. This and prompt reapplication of Misdirection will help the pet gain aggro quicker.

Once Black Blood of the Earth is over, the encounter repeats itself. As long as no one in the hunter group is within range of Morchok to take damage from Stomp, the encounter should go on without a problem.

Occasionally you may find that Resonating Crystal is placed within the Stomp range. If that is the case, you will want to either reposition your pet quickly or stay away from the Resonating Crystal until after Stomp has finished casting.

Afterthoughts

It is theoretically possible for two hunters to individually pet tank Morchok and Kohcrom if Kohcrom can be immediately picked up once he is summoned. Because their mechanics are identical, it might also be possible for a 10-man all-hunter group to defeat the encounter using the principles I described above.

If an all-hunter group is not possible, bringing along two healers (one for each group) should suffice, with an even 5–5 group split between Morchok and Kohcrom.


Updates from the Front

It looks like the pre-reset daily reset was indeed a bug. I was still able to gain a few extra marks on Wednesday night, but no longer on Thursday. Blizzard probably admits among themselves they made a mistake on this bug, but reverting tames and Marks on the numerous people who unknowingly stumbled upon this bug would cause a giant mess.

It is no longer possible to complete some daily quests more than once a day by turning them in during a small window before the standard reset time.

When I returned to the Molten Front the afternoon after I got in early, I went back to see which beasts were still up. Skarr had respawned, and Deth’tilac seemed to have been tamed. However, I returned again about an hour before the rush began when everyone would arrive at the Front. Immediately, someone beckons me over to the Forlorn Spire area, where Deth’tilac had respawned. Initially, I was hesitant to take the effort to kite him for so long in order to tame him, but when I started, it seems that person called over his friends to help me kite the spider. What ensued was 10 minutes back and forth with Deth’tilac, getting rooted, trapped, etc.

I’m still waiting on Karkin to spawn whenever I’m at the Front, but I think having three of the five spiders is enough. I don’t have room in my stable anymore.

Firelands has been fun, though I’ve only been doing trash runs and not bosses. Last night, I managed to hit honored with the Avengers of Hyjal, so a nifty new cloak and belt were in order for me. No epics have dropped from trash for me yet, though.

If you have not already, you should try getting to the top of this spider hill. This is probably one of the most fun achievements in the game right now. I bet you could even make some sort of game out of this.

How have the Molten Front and Firelands been treating you?


Server First Tames: Anthriss, Solix, Skarr

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you some server first tames from the Molten Front!

Anthriss

Solix

Skarr

This is not a joke. As proof, here is the direct link to Skarr in my stable. Anthriss and Solix models have not been uploaded into the Armory yet. For more details on my taming, head over to the Petopia forums where I summarized how I went about taming them.

How did this happen you ask? It was nothing short of a miracle.

Eredar is an Eastern time zone server, whose dailies are supposed to reset at 4 a.m. I returned to the Sanctuary of Malorne at 3:30 intending to wait for the daily reset, except I found out that it had already reset, so I actually managed to get 16 Marks of the World Tree on the first day. At 4 a.m., the dailies reset again, giving me another 4 Marks of the World Tree, thus completing the 20 I needed to turn in to get into the Molten Front. I was one of only a handful of people who discovered this, so the Molten Front was very sparsely populated.

This is not the only reported case of a double daily reset, as several people on the Petopia forums have also gotten server first tames.

I am requesting name suggestions for these three pets!

Best of luck to everyone hunting them and the other new rare pets.

P.S. Deth’tilac is scary!


Patch 4.2: Small Changes, Big Impact

Here we are, 9 weeks after the last content update. Patch 4.2 is rolling out on the live realms as we speak. For hunters, our changes are actually limited compared to several other classes. Sometimes I’m surprised that every major patch, the mechanics of other classes seem to change so much that I can never keep up with the latest play style. For hunters however, we usually get a few changes, yet these changes make such a big impact in the way we play.

(Hey, at the very least, hunter challenges have returned, for pet taming that is. This brings back the spirit of classic World of Warcraft when hunters would go on an epic quest across the world to assemble powerful weapons. Petopia has the latest.)

Let’s give some examples.

Crowd Control

Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: [...] Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap [...].

Misdirecting to a tank prior to trap-pulling has become second nature for quite some time, to the point that I’ve become very efficient with it. Even with the simple removal of aggro, old habits die hard. It’s likely that I will find myself continue to misdirect to the tank prior to placing a trap. After all, not all our traps are for crowd control. I find myself using Explosive Trap lately for speedier runs through the Troll heroic dungeons.

Pet Behavior

The Aggressive pet stance has been removed and replaced with the Assist stance. This stance will cause the player’s pet to attack the player’s target. The pet will not change targets unless the master attacks a new target for a few seconds.

The Defensive pet stance will now only cause the player’s pet to attack enemies which attack the pet or the master.

Stances remain confusing. The change may seem simple, but this will initially cause some confusion among inexperienced hunters. I imagine during the first few hours of the patch going live, every hunter will have to get used to these new stances. The old descriptions sounded much clearer.

Numbers, numbers, numbers

Careful Aim now grants additional critical strike chance against targets over 90% health, up from 80% health.

Black Arrow damage done has been increased by roughly 40%.

On the surface, these are merely numerical changes, yet they make all the difference. Careful Aim, which has been the sole reason the current Marksmanship shot rotation is designed the way it is, gets a significant beating. On the other hand, a simple numerical change to Black Arrow makes it more powerful. Hopefully,  it will also bring Survival back near the top of the charts.

Multi-shot damage has been reduced. It now deals 120% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 137%.

Multi Shot, however, will probably go down in history as the ability with a series of indecisive changes that seemed like a trial-and-error work-in-progress. Hunter area damage has not been consistent at all in this expansion.

Patch 4.2 Roundup

And since tier 11 content has not been kind to me with regards to a ranged weapon, it’s time for me to stop being bitter and move on to the [Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher].


PTR 4.2: Mounts and Pets

Ground mounts just might become more fashionable among hunters in patch 4.2. The reason is because our pets will now remain at our side while mounted. Here’s the latest screenshot from the PTR using [Reins of the Spotted Frostsaber] and Duskstalker.

There are a number of mount/pet combinations that will appeal to hunters. Some combinations even have an appropriate non-combat companion to go along with them, including [Reins of the Golden King] with Sambas for Alliance and [Horn of the Brown Wolf] with Deathmaw and the brown [Worg Carrier] pup for Horde.

Here are a couple more appealing combinations (not necessarily an exhaustive list):

Pets will automatically go into passive stance when the player is mounted, and the pet ability bar will be turn grey. If you fly away on a flying mount, your pet will disappear and will not reappear again when you land until fully dismounted.


Tanking for the Common Hunter

A talent tree other than Beast Mastery should not be a hindrance to your experiment in pet tanking. There are a number of abilities available to a hunter that make pet tanking viable for all three talent trees. Some may already be obvious; others are not. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a special talent build in order to pet tank.

Scarab beetle, a tenacity petThe first step to pet tanking is choosing a pet. Obviously, you should look for a pet under the tenacity family. If you are a Marksmanship or Survival hunter, you can choose from 9 different pet families. If you are a Beast Mastery hunter, you can choose from an additional 3 exotic pet families. Most hunters will use either a beetle or a turtle for their [Harden Carapace] or [Shell Shield] ability. Both of these have the same effect of 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds, which will prove critical if your pet suddenly falls to low health.

A tanking talent build is important for your pet, which is different from the DPS build for a tenacity pet. You would want to pick up abilities such as Taunt and Thunderstomp for threat. The core talents of your pet’s build, regardless of your own build is as follows:

  • 3/3 Great Stamina
  • 2/2 Natural Armor
  • 2/2 Blood of the Rhino
  • 2/2 Pet Barding
  • 2/2 Guard Dog
  • 2/2 Grace of the Mantis
  • 1/1 Taunt

From here, there are different ways to improve the core talent build, either for improved survivability or for increased threat generation. In order to increase survivability, the addition of these talents will result in the final survivability build:

  • 1/1 Last Stand
  • 2/2 Silverback

On the other hand, the addition of increased damage talents will result in a threat generation build:

  • 1/1 Roar of Sacrifice
  • 2/2 Wild Hunt

Beast Mastery hunters have the benefit of 4 additional talent points, which should be put into:

  • 3/3 Spiked Collar
  • 1/1 Thunderstomp

You will notice the lack of [Thunderstomp] in the build for Marksmanship and Survival hunters means that the talents builds described above are for single-target tanking. I have found that for multi-target tanking, the most effective method is to remove 1 point from either Silverback or Wild Hunt and shift it to Thunderstomp.

You can now improve pet tanking through self enhancements. Because the common hunter will always be in a raiding, questing, or PvP build, we will need a method that does not involve resetting your talent build or using different enchants. The best way to do this is through glyphing. The two best glyphs for pet tanking are [Glyph of Misdirection], which will allow you to use chain Misdirection, and [Glyph of Mending], which increases your healing. If stamina becomes a critical bonus, don’t hesitate to use [Flask of Steelskin].

When glyphed, chain [Misdirection] becomes possible and is an important skill to learn that can be made simple through the use of a macro. The key to a chain Misdirection, however, is to save your abilities with highest damage for after Misdirection is cast. This includes abilities such as Aimed Shot and Explosive Shot. You also want to open your shots with the ability that yields the largest damage.

#showtooltip Misdirection
/cast [target=pet,exists,nodead] Misdirection

Finally, positioning is always important. Make pet commands such as Stay, Attack, and Move as easy as possible to use, whether it be through keybinds or another method. With this, you can go ahead and have fun, whether it be tanking Problim during your Tol Barad dailies or to save that heroic group from wiping when the tank goes down.

Show me some pictures! →


I’m Seeing Blue

Imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon when I went questing in Sholazar Basin for the first time. Within 5 minutes of completing my first quest to find Hemet Nesingwary (again…), I ran into a blue parrot and realized she was, in fact, the rare Aotona! Luckily, I had an empty pet slot, so I dismissed my accompanying pet and threw a Tame Beast.

Loronar and the tamed Aotona

Tikiar the Blue Parrot

I’ve been using her since then in dungeons, and she is already attracting the eyes of some curious people. Excellent. It even matches my hair.

Now to find myself a matching Hyacinth Macaw.


R.I.P., Black Kitty

Vornskr the (original) Duskstalker

It appears Pike will not be the only one who will miss the sight of a loyal companion with the onset of Cataclysm. You see, my very first pet Vornskr is the rare Teldrassil Duskstalker. I tamed her the moment I completed my hunter taming quests, and she was slightly difficult to find because she had the same skin as normal spotted cats walking around the zone.

I was not aware until yesterday that the Shattering brought about many changes in the skins of creatures throughout the game. One of those affected was none other than my prized Duskstalker. Unlike Pike’s Locke, however, Vornskr is obtaining an upgrade in her skin, from a normal cat to a saber cat. However, this comes at the expense of her skin color, which changes to white. While I appreciate the gesture of love in making the Duskstalker unique, the color change does not reflect the nature of their name at all. As a Duskstalker, I wish Vornskr could keep a darker skin tone, one worthy of being called a creature who stalks her pray in the onset of darkness. A white-skinned animal would stand out in the night.

Blizzard’s effort in making pets once again a very attractive aspect of being a hunter is commendable, but I wish they had put some more thought into reassigning animal skins according to some common sense and its potential impacts. Thank you for your faithful partnership in the journeys through Azeroth and Outland, black kitty. Welcome, big snow kitty.


Change Is in the Air

While the United States is draped with a message of change and hope on this day, change also appears to be coming to the hunter community. Announcement of an extended maintenance has led many to believe that today is indeed the day for Patch 3.0.8.

In what has been called the “Great Hunter Nerf of 2008″, playing a hunter will no longer be the same should the patch hit the servers. Here are a few highlights of the most updated patch notes:

Steady Shot: Now gains 10% of attack power as damage instead of 20%.
Arcane Shot: Mana cost lowered to match the cost of Steady Shot.
Ferocious Inspiration: This talent now also increase the damage the Hunter does with Arcane Shot by 3/6/9%.

This sequence of changes is part of the core changes designed to balance the three talent trees a bit more. By reducing the damage bonus of Steady Shot, which is the core of a Beast Mastery rotation, it makes Arcane Shot slightly more attractive due to the reduced mana cost. Although it remains to be seen how much this will impact how shot rotations are designed, it certainly is something worth further studies.

Lock and Load: Now has a 30 second cooldown.

This is an interesting change. Because Lock and Load currently triggers from the periodic damage of Serpent Sting, Blizzard implemented the cooldown to make the talent conform more with the cooldown period of traps. (See Lienna’s thoughts of the periodic damage proc.) What I’m interested on finding out is if bonuses such as one from the Beast Lord Armor could (or should) reduce the cooldown on this talent as well. With this change, I see this talent more useful for long boss fights rather than for regular battles.

Rake: This hunter pet ability has had its damage adjusted to prevent unreasonable scaling with attack power.
Scorpid Poison: No longer stacks. The damage has been adjusted to prevent unreasonable scaling with attack power.

An unfortunate change for Marksmanship hunters, cats and scorpids were still considered two of the top pet choices after the entire pet skill system was redesigned. By adjusting the attack power scaling of these two pets, Marksmanship hunters no longer gain a great advantage from using them in fights. Somehow this change reminds me of Znodis’ old prognostication that “[s]ome new mechanic will cause one and only one pet ability to be overpowered”, except in this case it is two pet abilities.

All Silence spells now have diminishing returns. This includes: Arcane Torrent, Garrote silence effect, Improved Counterspell effect, Improved Kick effect, Silence, Gag Order, Silencing Shot, Spell Lock, and Strangulate.

Unfortunately, this change will make the ability a bit more lackluster than before. It will slowly lose appeal before finally deemed unnecessary in a Marksmanship talent build. When it comes to that day, it will be a sad and quiet end for the old 41-point talent.

Although the changes we see in the horizon may not be at all positive, we hunters have always adapted and excelled. It is what makes us that much better because we are under constant attack, yet we continue to shine despite everything that has been thrown at us. There is still hope for us yet.


Remember That Word?

Many people have started getting back into raiding, and that brings back one word into our vocabulary: performance.

WoW Web Stats has come into use again for analyzing performance in a raid. As far as I know, there are no other methods for combat logging that are as widely used as WoW Web Stats. (I’m not counting Recount because you can’t upload the parse for future analysis.) But regardless of what method of combat logging you use, they still do not provide the whole picture of the raid.

This is not about the uncontrollable situational circumstances that change from raid to raid.

Wrath of the Lich King brought new means of improving your character through glyphs. Hunters probably received more complex changes than the other classes. Each type of pet provides different abilities and opportunities for different talent trees.

Combat logging already includes the effects of these glyphs and talents, so a raid or class leader who is looking at combat reports has to remember to ask his or her raiders what types of glyphs they are using (and/or their pets’ talents) in order to make recommendations. Every single amount of DPS will count now that Blizzard believes hunters are doing too much damage.

It is the responsibility of the raider to find out information about his or her optimal setup. Write down a clear plan for yourself so that you can reason your way into what you’re doing. Every decision you make must have results that will contribute to your performance and to the success of the raiding team.

“I will not be dead weight. I will not be cholesterol.”


Analysis of A Nerf

Approximately 2 hours ago, the hunter community was caught off-guard by Ghostcrawler’s announcement that “[h]unters of all specs…are doing too much damage in PvE”.

What concerns me is not that a nerf actually came. If anything, I’m surprised that the nerf came this early on in the expansion. Could this be a sign that Blizzard was not ready to release Wrath after all? The developers are saying that they had “hoped other classes would be able to catch up [to hunters] in a way they have as yet been unable to do”. This statement essentially means that they had not extensively tested the class balancing in endgame content.

This announcement is among the many problems that have been plaguing Wrath. The nerf, on top of the fact that Trap Mastery was not tuned by launch, leaves all the hunter talent trees in shambles.

Even pets were not left alone in this mess. How many times have pets been tuned since Patch 3.0 was first released? With all the effort they put into pet balancing with talent trees and , they are still nerfing Rake and Scorpid Poison. This means the pets were not balanced in the first place.

Most of the changes have been made to affect Beast Mastery hunters the most, but with the changes not live and are still being developed in the Public Test Realm, there is no way to know if the developers will implement further changes to all talent trees. I only fear the morale of hunters after this.


Improving Pet Raiding: WoW Web Stats

It would seem that I have neglected to clarify on the configuration of my WoW Web Stats reports and how I analyze them, particularly regarding pets. The Stoic Guardian‘s Gothyelk did an analysis of his pet’s performance using WWS, and he was keen in observing how much his pet “missed”.

Why did I put that word in quotes?

The reason is because WWS sometimes has confusing terminology. When you click on the Columns bar, there are options for All Miss and Miss. All Miss includes attacks which did not produce damage or critical damage, which means parries, misses, dodges, blocks, resists, etc. Therefore, Miss is a subset of All Miss.

Want a proof? All you need is a screenshot. This is from Nalorakk in Zul’Aman.

From the image above, you will see that the number of Miss, Parry, and Dodge add up to the (All) Missed column. (For the hunter himself, it doesn’t matter that you choose All Miss because ranged attacks generally miss and not parried or dodged, which is why I chose the summarizing column.)

Now if you were considering whether or not to spend more talent points on Animal Handler, what you want to look at is the number of actual misses, not all missed attacks. Unfortunately, we can’t control the parry and dodge chances of a mob. However, positioning our pets at the back of mobs generally reduces the chances to block and parry.

Brajana of Mend Pet also has a great overview on pet management and pet healing to supplement this entry. Pet management is an important skill to have for all hunters, not just Beast Mastery ones. Without our pets, hunters lose half of their whole.


More Pets?

Hello, Boomstik here!

I’m going to try very very hard to not comment on Wrath changes, whether they’re about gameplay, classes, or pets. It should go without saying that going on Wowhead/Wowinsider/Petopia/Mania’s/etc that I was QUITE excited about new stuff coming in Wrath. However, I don’t really want to comment on Beta software…also…I am like 99% certain that I will not be playing WoW when Wrath comes out due to school.

So, the real only thing I want to say, and hopefully Blizzard takes this to heart:

WE NEED MORE STABLE SPOTS FOR PETS

BRK had a good point where it could be a goldsink for hunters to have like 10 spots or whatever. I just want like 5…but to reiterate

BLIZZARD PLEASE GIVE HUNTERS MORE STABLE SLOTS FOR PETS

especially since it looks like some pet families will have specific tasks…and you’ll need more than-STOP BOOMSTIK, no more Wrath!

(Edit by Loronar: Begging helped I suppose?)

Ok. Calm down. Breathe in…out…in…out…ok, what I wanted to write about today was pets! “But Boomstik,” you say, “you already wrote a post about BM pets!” True, but I wanted to talk about pets that don’t Growl, Bite, or increase your dps. That’s right! Non-combat pets! Everyone loves non-combat pets, right?

I confess, I currently have a Wolpertinger, a Turtle, a Bird, a Floating Eye thing, a Chicken, a Mechanical Chicken, and a Firefly! This isn’t a whole lot of pets, but I like them nevertheless. I did once put my Firefly on the AH but it didn’t sell, and I never had the heart to put it up for sale again (I think the firefly is awesome, but I still haven’t actually bound it to me yet).

Wow, I forgot, if you want to see all of the pets, go here. Definitely the best site for non-combat pets.

But yeah, I admit first pet I got was the Chicken, but they didn’t really stick out for me…just items taking up bagspace…then the first Children’s Week came….and who the f*** can say no to a f***ing turtle named Speedy?!?! I think I liked the pets after I got Speedy. I think him and the firefly are my personal favorites, but my wishlist has the Dark Whelpling and the Tiny Green Whelpling (favorite color is green!). There’s a freaking adorable panda too, but I won’t link it since seeing it will only make me sad that I don’t/can’t get it, lol.

Anyway, Boomstik is out of ammo and needs to reload, so what were your first pets? Your favorites? Wishlist? Sound off!


Marksmanship Pet Selection and Synergy

The synergy between a hunter and his or her pet doesn’t stop when you spec away from Beast Mastery. Pet selection is also critical for various situations when you are a Marksmanship hunter. Although we’re often accused of not paying enough attention to our pets, in truth we need our pets just as much.

Selection

There are several ways to approach pet selection when you are a Marksmanship hunter.

One way is to go the traditional tanking pet method where your pet should be generating enough threat that you will not have to go into melee combat or reposition yourself. The problem with this group of pets lies in the fact that after some time, all the mitigation these pets have will not become useful if they cannot hold aggro in the long run. The longer the fight, the more likely you yourself will pull aggro and turn the role of the hunter around.

In a PvE environment, selecting a pet with an ability that can be used as a focus dump is essential. It is generally acceptable to use a Cat or a Ravager because both Claw and Gore, respectively serve as focus dump abilities with a cost of only 25 focus. When used with Go for the Throat, focus dump becomes more important for a pet so that it can sustain its damage output. Windserpents are also viable for marksmen because Lightning Breath scales with attack power.

Utility is one of the most important aspects of a PvP environment. If a pet has any ability that can impair the enemy, it’s very preferable.

The Numbers

As a marksman, you have several talents at your disposal to make your pet a more valuable companion. Let’s compare using Armory Light two sample hunter profiles: one a beast master, the other a marksman.

Sample Marksmanship hunter.

Sample Marksmanship hunter.

Sample Beast Mastery hunter.

Sample Beast Mastery hunter.

Remember that a pet’s attack power scales with the hunter’s attack power. Because a marksman usually has at least 200 more ranged attack power due to Trueshot Aura and talents like Combat Experience, Careful Aim, and Master Marksman, the scaling of pet attack power is much larger for a Marksmanship hunter. This data is obvious when you are using Armory Light to see the profiles of a hunter. From the two sample hunter profiles (approximately equivalent, though the Marksmanship hunter has slightly better gear), you will notice the significant difference in Pet AP.

Synergy

The key to using of a pet for Marksmanship hunters is to minimize the length of a fight with an enemy. The longer the fight, the more problems you will have in management.

Because Growl no longer scales with the pet’s attack power after Patch 2.4.3, Marksmanship hunters will experience more occurrences where they draw more aggro away from their pets. It’s important for our pets to get at least several seconds of head start for Omen Threat Meter to read at least 1000 threat generated by your pet. Usually this is achievable within the first 3 seconds of a fight. Your attack power and damage are your assets. Use your highest damage abilities first (i.e. Multi-Shot, etc.), then slowly increase the damage output using other special shots. By doing this, your threat is actually more manageable. The reason being is that when you put your highest damage shot out first, you will dramatically increase your threat to nearly the same level as your pet’s.

Ranged attackers will draw aggro when they have achieved 30% more aggro than the “tank”. If you were to start shooting with Auto, Steady, and Arcane, you will incrementally build damage in the beginning and risk the chance that a critical strike on Multi-Shot puts you way above the 30% mark and immediately draw aggro, forcing you into melee combat. Incremental increase of threat following an attack of massive threat will reduce that risk. Your pet will more easily sustain its threat generation if you are using lower threat abilities towards the end of the fight. It is also somewhat noticeable that because your pet has more attack power than normal, it will easily pick up an enemy again if you suspend of hold back your attacks temporarily. Splitting the attention of your enemy minimizes damage to both at the same time.

In the PvP environment, our pets are not as much of an annoyance as a big red beast clawing at your enemy. Marksmanship PvP hunters are well known for their utility and ability to manage with just about any class. Beast Mastery hunters can keep their big red pets. One of the most common PvP pets is the Scorpid family. Using a scorpid allows the use of Scorpid Poison, a Damage over Time ability much like Serpent Sting. Using these two makes yourself a formidable opponent by maximizing what you can do with a pet. Night elf hunters can also use Shadowmeld and activate their cats’ Prowl ability to surprise unsuspecting enemies. By stacking your abilities with those of your pets’, you will be able to work as a cohesive team. Again, the Marksmanship hunter makes short of his job with the help of a pet. Aimed Shot a healer, dispel using Arcane Shot, interrupt with Silencing Shot, and stun with Improved Concussive Shot. Manage your pet well while using all your abilities as needed, and you can very well hold out against many players.

Final Thoughts

While we do not provide our pets with as many abilites as Beast Mastery hunters do, we can work just as well with our pets. I recently moved my talent points in Improved Aspect of the Hawk to Endurance Training, and the survivability of my pet is much more noticeable. 10% of health increase towards pets while trained with the proper resistances greatly improves raid performance.

Marksmanship hunters must see their relationship with their pets as a two-way road. You contribute to each other’s performance. Beast masters will always send in their pets first into the chaos, but we have to analyze when is the perfect time for us to use our pets. We can’t risk sending them into a dangerous environment if we are using Focused Fire. It’s like a protective parent who can’t risk sending a child into battle. I’m more than willing to take the force of the attack if my pet is in danger.

Whether you are a beast master, marksman, or survivalist, you’re still a hunter, and you need your pet regardless of your preferred talent tree. Learn how to manage your pets, and you will be on your way to becoming a successful hunter. If you find you have some problems, a bit of Misdirection also helps.


BM Pets for Any Occasion

Boomstik here! I know it’s been a while since my last post and that I’m not doing a great job splitting writing responsibilities with Loronar (finally got my epic mount and exalted SSO!), but today I’ll write a post that I’m sure all of you hunters are experienced with (especially if you read a certain site, like you should). Pets!

This post is based largely off of a comment from one of Loronar’s posts. Also, Loronar wants to talk about MM pets, so I’ll try to let him do that.  Here, I’ll describe pets for BM hunters, given whatever situation.

Max DPS:

There are really only 3 pet families (unfortunately) that give the highest DPS. Cat, Raptor, and Ravager. All three can eat meat, with Raptors being the most picky (only meat). Pros and Cons of those 3? Well, Raptors arguably look coolest. Who didn’t want a dinosaur pet growing up? Unfortunately, it’s got the least amount of learnable skills. Cats can learn Prowl, which increases their initial attack against a mob. Quite handy when trying to build up aggro or just increasing overall damage. They also have the least punishment towards their HP. However, they have the lowest armor rating of the three, which isn’t a big deal for pure DPS, but not that handy when trying to momentarily hold aggro (eg, saving a squishy til the tank gets there). Lastly, there are the Ravagers. Personally, I use a green one. They learn Gore, which has a 50% chance to do double damage, potentially increasing their damage output over the other three. Cons? They have the least amount of HP and are kinda funky looking.

Some people use Windserpents since their Focus Dump, Lightning Breath, is Nature based and ignores physical defense. I don’t crit enough for my pet to get enough Focus and I’m not really at the point where LB outweighs Gore, but it’s an option for you!

PVP:

I don’t PVP. At all. I, personally, considered it a waste of time and ammo since I’d rather see Blizzard’s content then shoot at players. At least until I saw the S4 gear, whoo boy, that stuff is spicy. But, if I DID PVP, you’d bet I’d have a Scorpid for a pet. Sure, Birds, Owls, and Carrion Birds are big and bulky and interfere with targeting, but Scorpids have a stacking poison that must be Cleansed before your Viper Sting can be cleansed.

Tanking:

You may be wondering why there’s a tanking section, seeing as how our pets aren’t that great at tanking. Well, I would personally like to see pets being able to decently tank in Wrath as one of the Pet Talent Trees. In hopeful preparation, I’ll say that I like Boars, Bears, Bats, Owls, and Carrion Birds. Boars because of Gore and Charge (even though Charge was nerfed); these skills should help it get large initial aggro and hold onto it. Bears are good because of unpicky diet (Bread, Cheese, Fruit, Fish, Fungus, AND Meat? Don’t bring em to a buffet!) and because of the fairly high armor and HP values. Lastly, Bats, Owls, and Carrion Birds all have a pet version of Demo Shout! How cool is that? Works pretty well too! Did you see this video? Or this one? You can’t do those things anymore, but the Screech (Demo Shout) was probably crucial.

But in the end, your pet should kinda make a statement about you too. You’re going to be with it for a long time! And you’re supposed to lovingly name it! Plus you get 3 stable slots…which admittedly isn’t enough…even I want like 6 pets. So I recommend getting a DPS pet for raids, but look at Petopia and really find one you want hanging around with you. I did that and I love Bigwhitebar and Imaspikyroar. They love me back right guys?

*two angry growls*

….AAAAAaaaaanyway, what pets do y’all have and why?


Pet Hit: Woes of A Marksman

If you’ve ever noticed your combat log when you press that Kill Command button, you’d be frustrated to see that sometimes the spell goes to waste when it says

Vornskr’s Kill Command misses Coilfang Tempest.

Your pet’s hit is calculated the same way your hit is calculated.

v. Level 70 — 5.0% Chance to Miss
v. Level 71 — 5.5% Chance to Miss
v. Level 72 — 6.0% Chance to Miss
v. Level 73 — 9.0% Chance to Miss

So in a raid, your pet would miss nearly 9% of its attacks (see note in theorycrafting section about the meaning of percentage values). This is one of the contributing reasons as to why marksmanship hunters may have a lower overall DPS than a beast mastery hunter.

But why would that happen? You may remember that pet attack power is supposed to scale with the hunter’s ranged attack power. Given that marksmen on average have more ranged attack power, shouldn’t our pets be doing more base damage than beast master pets? What does a beast master have that marksmen don’t? The answer is Animal Handler. Ignore the mount speed increase. Animal Handler Rank 2 increases your pet’s hit by 4%, so against level 70 mobs, the chance of misses your pet will make decreases by 80%. Against raid bosses, your pet’s miss chances decrease by 44%.

That is not all. Say you’re a Night Elf or Dwarf marksmanship hunter, and there’s a Draenei hunter. Draenei hunters have a racial ability called Heroic Presence, increasing Hit by 1% to all party members, including your pet. Clearly, if both of you go against the same level 70 mob, your pet will miss 5% of its attacks, and the Draenei’s pet will not miss any (if they have Animal Handler specced in the tree).

Take that into a raid environment. Another method in which your pet’s hit can improve is through a balance druid’s talents in Improved Faerie Fire. Improved Faerie Fire Rank 3 will grant 3% hit to your pet if the druid is in your party.

Put yourself, the Draenei, and the druid in a party together. Your pet will gain the advantage of Heroic Presence and Improved Faerie Fire and have a reduced chance to miss of 5.0%. The Draenei hunter’s pet, on the other hand, has the advantage of Animal Handler on top of that. With this talent active, that pet will only have a chance to miss of 1.0%. The number of misses is one-fifth that of your pet’s. Talk about unfair.

So how can we try to remedy this? Remember that your pet’s attack power scales with your ranged attack power. Our only solution is to blow the beast master away with a greater ranged attack power. This is why we have Trueshot Aura. It sounds silly, but that is the balance that has been put into place. Our pets hit less for more each time, while beast master pets hit more often for less.

If Animal Handler were placed in the lower tiers of the beast mastery tree (requiring less than 25 points in the tree), we’d be overpowered.


I’ve A Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Yesterday was a special day, for I went to visit an old friend. She was none other than Pike. I wanted to check out how things really are in an RP server, so Monday night I went ahead and rolled on Silver Hand US in search of the truth.

I decided to go with both the familiar and unfamiliar. Since I had never been to Exodar, I decided to become a Draenei. Since I wanted to level a character I was familiar with, I went with the hunter. This hunter will be my experiment bed for Beast Mastery since we have one of the experts on hand for reference. (I was going to be a rebel and level Marksmanship again, but I say what the heck, let’s roll.) I actually picked up and intend to level real professions and skills this time, instead of waiting until level 20 to pick them up like I did the first time I started playing.

After getting everything set up on Monday night, I went back yesterday to level the hunter. When I was at level 7, Pike logged on. Away went the first whisper, and we said our greetings. We chatted about the state of things and about miscellaneous things. She even held her offer and invited me to join Entelechy. I met a few of her guildmates, and we chatted for a bit. Pretty good impression for a healthy guild.;-) They were even kind enough to lend me some starting money!

So what’s the truth about role-playing? Pike couldn’t have said it better.

Tamaryn (Pike of Aspect of the Hare) on role-playing.

But what’s a hunter post without pet pictures?

(more…)


Azeroth Exotic Animals

Oops, haven’t posted in a while.

I was asked by my friend who had not completed the Master Hunter quests if I could help him complete the King Bangalash stage of the chain. Since I was getting annoyed at the aggro radius of Bloodsail pirates onboard their ships, I decided to go and help him out. Since both of us are hunters, we started talking about how cool it would be to have Bangalash as a pet.

Then it hit me. I had not taken a second pet since I got my rare Duskstalker at level 10. The only other times I had tamed other pets was taming a Ghostpaw Alpha and an Elder Ashenvale Bear to get Bite 4 and Claw 4. I know you must be thinking “A hunter who doesn’t tame pets for skills? Does this guy even know how to play a hunter?” I had not taken pet skills as a priority as playing a hunter. Why? I was too busy exploring Azeroth itself and questing. I was pretty happy with my pet anyway; there was no pressing need to change it.

But then Bangalash changed it all. After taming him, I felt like as if I were level 10 again. How cool it was to learn Dash 2 and find out how fast cats can be!! And then I realized (a second time because I’ve forgotten since level 10) that a Duskstalker can learn Prowl. So then I decided to track down an Elder Shadowmaw Panther to learn the skill. The problem is, I still haven’t been able to learn it after taming it. I’m not sure what’s going on because I’ve gone around killing at least 10 mobs with it without being able to learn anything from it when it should normally take 2 mobs. If anyone knows what’s going on, feel free to let me know that I’m an idiot.

It’s funny how Bangalash looks like my Striped Frostsaber mount though.

The next day, I got so excited after taming Bangalash that I decided to look for a suitable name for him. After wiki-ing white tigers, dubbed royal Bengal tigers (and learning that they’re actually normal Bengal tigers with a recessive gene), I decided to name him Mohan, after the first of tamed royal Bengal tigers.

Being the compulsive wiki browser that I am, I started looking at odd colors of various animals, such as the white lion, black tiger, and blue tiger. They are actually much like Sian-Rotam, the infamous ghostly Shadowclaw, and Moonstalkers. It doesn’t stop there! There’s still the rare raptor mob Takk the Leaper, black lion Humar the Pridelord, and albino gorilla Ukh’loc. How cool would it be to tame all these very unique looking animals? Blizzard definitely did not make up all these animal colors out of the blue. They are very real!

Oh, I forgot to mention I named my Duskstalker Vornskr…because I wanted it to be vicious even though it doesn’t look like one.

As a last note, thanks to Kestrel for linking to Ranger’s Bow. I noticed a spike in the site views and was wondering how that happened, especially since I didn’t make a post…:-P


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