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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.