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.
The 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.
/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.
Here are some screenshots of my recent adventures in tanking, with a pet and not. This does not even represent how many times I have pet tanked for the weekly classic raids which I organize for the guild.