Monday, March 31, 2008

Power Leveling for Hunters

Hunters are perhaps the best characters for solo play, and that makes them especially good for leveling quickly. What is the fastest way to get to Level 70? Simply put, it is questing. Grinding will never get you the XP that quests will, especially since you need to kill things for quests a lot of the time anyway.

On top of that, quests give you new equipment and cash, which always come in handy.

The problem is, it is not always easy to know where you should be questing for which level, or which chains are appropriate for your level. Also, you have a maximum number of quests you can be on at any given time, so which ones are most efficient for your time? Which quests should be avoided altogether?

Once you have decided on the quests, you still need to get the info you need for locations for loot, mobs and turn ins, as well as any strategies you might need. Sure, you can look those up on Thottbot, but that is more time wasted.

For me, the best time saving was in getting a guide that already had all these things worked out for me. The most efficient path to Level 70 had already been worked out, and all I had to do was walk that path. And magically, every time I came to a new area, not only was I ready for the quests there, but I even often had quests to turn in right there!

There are many good guides available, but the one I used is still considered the "gold standard"for leveling guides, Brian's Guide for Alliance. Of course, as the name suggests, it is appropriate for Alliance characters only. Fortunately there is a sort of "companion" guide for Horde, called Joanna's Horde Guide. I am not sure if they are written by the same people, but this one gets equal praise from people that I know.

Both of these guides use the PDF format, often with links to quest info at Thottbot. They are quite complete, and are updated frequently for new patches. The only downside is the flipping back and forth between the game and the guide, but these is a very minor inconvenience.

This inconvenience has been eliminated in the iDemise Team guide. They have created a system of notes that you import into your game, and the map then contains all that you need for leveling: locations, tasks to complete, etc. I found this to be very convenient, especially since I could "highlight" the next location to go to, and simply run to the point on my mini-map. However, when I bought this particular guide it was very new, and there were a few mistakes, but they were easy enough to figure out in most cases. I expect that there will be updates as there is for the other guides. However, the one thing they don't have in the guide is links to Thottbot for quest info, so if you need to look something up you'll have to search for it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mana-Efficient Shot Rotation

In raids, you do not want to run out of mana if you can help it, as this drops your DPS by a large margin. For this reason you want to make your shot rotation as efficient as possible from the point of view of Mana Used per Extra Damage Done.

Since Auto Shot uses no Mana at all, it is the most "efficient" shot from that standpoint, but it also does not extra damage (except for crits). The next most efficient shot is the Steady Shot. For the extra damage it does it uses little Mana, and therefore should be the "go to" shot for extra damage. Stings, Arcane Shot and Multi shots use too much Mana, and should be used as Kill shots if you still have Mana left over at the end of a fight.

Here is my Shot Rotation Macro:
#showtooltip Steady Shot
/cast !Auto Shot
/castrandom [target=pettarget, exists] Kill Command
/cast Steady Shot
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()

Line 1 of this macro simply replaces the "?" icon with the Steady Shot icon once I put it on one of may Action Bars.

Line 2 is a little less obvious. Clearly it is intended to get Auto Shot started so we get one shot in before the cast for the Steady Shot. But what is the "!" for? If you look at your main Action Bar (as long as you have not changed it) you will see "Auto Shot". If you click this, it starts the Auto Shot, and your character will shoot until it cannot any more. If you click it again, the character will stop shooting. So this button is more of a toggle than a cast. What the "!" does is make sure you are only starting the Auto Shot, and not toggling it. This is very important, as you do not want to lose damage output by turning off your shots!

Line 3 will attempt to cast the Kill Command spell, which gives your pet extra damage on the next hit. Kill Command is only available after a Critical Hit, and can only be cast once the cool down is over. So this is simply a spam of the Kill Command, but it will only be cast if the pet has a target (and not in "Stay" mode). If the cool down is still in effect, or no crit has made the spell available, there will be an error message (more on this below).

Line 4 will cast the Steady Shot, which was the whole point of the rotation.

Line 5 clears the error messages from the screen, which is important when battling! You will still here verbal messages from your character if you have that turned on.

Macro for Quick Power Boost

Depending on your specs, you will have some temporary buffs for your Pet and Character that will give you extra killing power. Presumably the same is true of trinkets, as most of them have a "use" buff in addition to "equip" stats. If you are in a long, drawn out battle with a boss it is nice to be able to quickly access all or most of these buffs in one easy keystroke, so you can maintain maximum damage. After all, that is our job! Here is what I have:
/cast Bestial Wrath
/use Bladefist's Breadth

Bestial Wrath is the Beast Master buff that vastly increases the Pet's damage output, and the Hunter's as well if you have the correct specs. The Bladefist's Breadth is a trinket that increases Attack Power by 200 for 15 seconds. Both of these in unison increase my damage significantly, so I use this macro when I have long battles with bosses, or if I get swarmed by mobs and I want to kill them quickly (such as when mining, so I don't lose the node).

My second trinket does not have a use, but has a random buff that has a chance to occur on critical hits. When I have all three of these going at the same time, my damage goes through the roof! For this reason I like to keep my Crit% as high as possible. Right now it is at 24.78%. Anyway, because the second trinket (Hourglass of the Unraveller) does not have a "use", I don't add it to this macro; otherwise I would.

Fast Attack Macro

This is a macro that I use to attack mobs quickly with my pet, but with no loss of damage due to not taking the time to cast a Hunter's Mark:

/Cast Hunter's Mark

I then bound this to the same key that Hunter's Mark was bound to previously. There are very few instances where a mob that my pet attacks is not going to be shot at as well, so this is much more efficient than doing the Mark and Pet Attack separately. Even better, when my pet is on "Stay" (as in cases where the boss would easily kill the pet with AOE damage) he does not attack the target; all I get is a Hunter's Mark on the target, and I can start shooting.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hunter's Misdirection Macro

Here is a great macro for making sure you do not get aggro from the mob you are attacking. In PvE it means your pet should get the aggro and keep it long enough for you to burn it down. I find this very useful in Hellfire when doing my mining runs, as there are a few 63 Elite mobs guarding some nodes. If I get the aggro instead of my pet, then I take forever to kill it, and sometimes don't survive.

In raids it is even more important, especially if you are pulling for the tank or playing with an under-equipped or inexperienced tank who might not hold aggro well.

Here is the macro:
/cast [target=focus,help] Misdirection; [help] Misdirection;
[target=pet,exists] Misdirection

The first line simply means that the button you assign the macro to will show the Misdirection icon instead of the "?" icon you should choose when making this macro. The remaining line (from "/cast" on) is actually one line with three parts.

The three parts are simply conditions that are checked before casting the Misdirection spell. The first section looks to see if you have a target called "focus", and then casts the Misdirection for that focus (more on setting the focus below). The second looks to see if your current target is a friendly one (party member, for instance), and casts the Misdirection on that character instead. Finally, if the other conditions are not true, it checks to see if your pet exists, and then casts it on the pet.

What Misdirection does is switch the threat that comes from your next three shots from you to the target of your Misdirection. So if I cast Misdirection with my main tank as the focus, my next three shots will appear to the mob I am shooting as though they came from the tank instead of me. This helps the tank gain and maintain aggro, but the spell only lasts for a few seconds, and you should only cast it just before you start shooting.

In order to get this to happen, you need to either target your tank and cast the macro, or better yet, set the focus to your tank with the following macro:

By targeting your tank (or other party member) and casting this, you will set that player as "focus", and the Misdirection will always be cast on them instead of whoever you are targeting, or even your pet.

Hunter's Feed Pet Macro

This Macro generally comes in two flavors: one that uses a specific bag slot, the other using a specific item. I prefer the item-based macro because I am at level 70 and use the same item almost all the time. I first made the macro when I was in Stranglethorn, so that's what this sample represents:

/cast Feed Pet
/use Tiger Meat
I had a lot of Tiger Meat because of the quests I was doing, and with this macro it does not matter which bag slot it is in. The first line simply calls the Feed Pet "spell", and the second uses the item specified. When you upgrade to a new item to feed, you can replace the item name in the second line. Bind this to a key, and you have a one-keystroke way to feed your pet. This is particularly useful in raids when you need to quickly feed the pet and then drink for more mana all while the rest of the party is waiting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Useful Assist Macro

In a raid, a Hunter's main job is to take down whatever mob he has been assigned to. Generally we are told which mob to kill by means of symbols above the mobs, chat window, voice chat (as in Vent), or through add-on messages. However, this means that the tank, or whoever is leading the raid, needs to spend time communicating instead of doing what a tank should be doing.

So I use an "assist macro" to help with this. What it does is set your target to the target of whichever player you are assisting. So if you have your macro set to assist your main tank, whenever you call the macro it will set your target to the same as his. Here is the macro:
/assist player1

And "player1" gets replaced with the name of the player I am assisting, and the macro gets keybound with "a".

Some hunters will add the line "petattack" to this macro, but I do not. This is because a tank will often be switching between mobs to give various attacks (Sunder, etc), or marking them for various players to trap. The last thing I need to do is send my pet in on a mob that the tank has not yet established sufficient aggro to hold. Also, if the tank has a distant mob as a target, that could be disastrous if my pet went to attack it.

So what I do is spam the assist macro button until the target no longer changes, and wait for the signal to attack. This signal is announced ahead of time, and usually is a skull, an "X", or a chat announcement from an add-on. For less experienced tanks, we simply wait for 3 Sunders.

Another use for the assist macro is for a hunter that is new to a particular area or instance, is to set the macro to a more experienced DPS player (usually Hunter or Rogue), so they can simply follow that player's attacks. This is really helpful for bosses that require a specific kill order, and it is faster than taking the time to explain the order to the new player, or try to keep up with marking the mobs. This is especially true if the tank is going to be staying on one mob while the others are burned down.

Lastly, I sometimes have a secondary assist macro set to a healer. If the healer gets aggro, I like to be able to set my pet on the mob and try to steal aggro back, or I can at least try to trap it.

I always spell out the whole name of the player I am assisting, including making sure to capitalize where needed. I am told that putting in just the first part of the name is sufficient, but if you have two players with similar names this could be a problem.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Gloves!

Last night was a Karazhan run, and it was the first this week for our group. I count this a successful raid on four factors:

1. We took down 4 bosses, which is good considering the limited amount of time most of us have on a week night.

2. We wasted little time, only the amount needed to switch out a few players who had to leave.

3. We had only one wipe, and we very nearly avoided that one.

4. I got new gloves!

My current gloves are the Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation, which have good stats but are made of leather. I got these on a previous Karazhan run from Attumen the Huntsman, but this time the donor was the Maiden of Virtue. She was kind enough to drop Gloves of Quickening for me, which was only fair since she was the boss we wiped on. These gloves have Stamina and Intellect on them instead of agility, but there are Crit and Attack Power bonuses. But the important thing is the improvement in my armor, which is 507 instead of 228, which helps both me and my pet in mitigating damage.

So off I go to get some gems and enchants so I can wear these things with pride!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Helmet of Second Sight

Well, since I did no raiding or anything in game tonight, I thought I would post about some of my current gear. And since it is logical to start at the top, I decided to talk about my helmet: the Stalker's Helmet of Second Sight.

First of all, who can resist anything named for a Stalker? Second, the stats on this helmet are somewhat impressive, and they certainly were an improvement on what I had before. Truth be told, I can't remember what I had before, it was that much of an improvement. Anyway, +31 Agility, +12 Stamina (nice for the Pet!), +8 Intellect, and three blue gem sockets. I opted for + Agility on the sockets, and gave up the minor bonus for matching gems, because of the improvement to Crit %. Lastly, I was able to pick up an enchant from the Cenarion Expedition that gives +34 Attack Power and +16 Hit Rating, which probably is as much of an improvement as the helmet gave.

This helmet comes from the quest line that starts with Zorus the Judicator in Wildhammer Stronghold in Shadowmoon Valley called A Ghost in the Machine. The first three quests can be done alone, but there will be a point at which you are given three quests called "Divination: Gorefiend's X", where X is Truncheon, Cloak or Armor. It is the last which will require the most help, and although the quest recommends 5 players, we did it with 4 (Tank, Healer, to Hunters - a simple Tank-and-Spank operation). The other two can probably be done alone, but having a group will make it faster and safer. Also, the people who help you should either be on the quest, or have done the quest and still have the goggles you get in the first quest, or the helmet. Either of these will allow them to attack the mobs that are needed. (Our healer did not need them, since she only needed to see the players needing healing.

But as good as this helmet is, there is another I am going for. Since I gave up Blacksmithing in favor of Engineering, I have some goggles that I can make that will give even better stats: The Surestrike Goggles v2.0. These require 350 Engineering to wear, so these are not available to everyone. The downside is that I lose the +31 Agility and the +8 Intellect (I can get the enchant again, though), but I get 28 Stamina instead of 12. The increased Attack Power goes from 60 to 96, I get a + 13 Hit Rating and +38 Critical Strike Rating, and it has a blue gem socket and Meta Gem socket. But the big thing is the increase in armor: from 503 to 726. This is not only good for me, but also increases my pet's armor too. And since I am BM spec, having my pet alive greatly increases the damage that I can do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First Trip to Zul'Aman

Well, rather than going to Karazhan as I had thought was planned, we went instead to Zul'Aman. For those who do not know, this is an instance which is designed to be a quicker run than Karazhan, but with tougher bosses. Because we had more than 10 people ready to go I was only in on the first boss, which was fine with me considering we nearly wiped on the one I was at. When you consider that Nalorakk is the easiest of the six bosses, it was probably a good thing I was replaced with a bit higher DPS hunter!

However, the experience I got was well worth the time it took, and we did take him down the second time (we reset rather than wiped due to some quick thinking, and only two deaths out of the ten). Plus I got a badge of justice, which I now have enough of to trade in on something decent.

So, what did I learn? Well, not only do I need more DPS (520 per second is what I did according to SW Stats), but I really need to use better Mana potions. I will need to read up on what is available; if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear about them.

Also, if there is a way to avoid spending 50 gold on a flask for just one boss, that would be great too! But 120 extra Attack Power is pretty compelling.


Hello, fellow World of Warcraft Hunters, and all of you who simply want to learn more about Hunters in WoW.

My aim with this blog is to explain what I know about Hunters (whether I am right or not), and what I still want to learn. I also want to document my progress in the end game process, which for me is basically raiding. I am not much for PvP, but I will include what little I know in some future posts.

For those who want to look me up, my main character is Ruenn on Cenarius, a PvE server. Our guild, Optical Illusion, has been raiding Karazhan for a while now, and I have been getting better and better at playing my role in the raids. I am not usually called upon for crowd control, which is good because the freeze trap seems to have been nerfed of late. So I am pretty much just DPS now, and I have been averaging about 360 damage per second in most raids. That's usually third in our groups, depending on who attends.

Ours is a small guild, since we place as much importance on good manners as in good player skills, so we do not have a large pool of players to choose from when raiding. However, several of the players have more than one character ready for Karazhan, so we can usually put together a good mix. Also, the entire guild is dedicated to making all players better, and we do not use the DKP system to control who gets which drops. Because of this, newer players tend to improve very quickly, which makes our raids that much stronger.

Well, time for me to start getting ready for tonight's raid. I will be posting after we are done to let everyone know how we did!