I've been reading a lot of hunter blogs around and one thing stuck me; there isn't a lot for Marksmen Hunters! BM Hunters have BRK (Even though every time I check on him in the Armoury he is Survivial spec....suspicious!) and Survival hunters have OUTdps amongst others so I thought I'd do a 3 part MM Hunter guide, starting today with Pets.
(Note: I don't do any PvP so this will be 100% PvE)
Choosing and Taming your pet
There are many families of pets for hunter to choose from and they fall into 3 classes, tenacity (tanking), ferocity (DPS - Dungeons) and Cunning (Buffs/Debuffs - PvP). For a MM hunter the choice is pretty simple, if you are doing dungeons are raids, you'll want a cat and if you're questing/soloing, you'll want a gorilla.
Cats have the highest DPS output of the pets for MM Hunters and Gorillas cause the most threat generation. DPS is the name of the game in dungeons/raids so maximizing this is key. Some other families of pets provide stat boosts/debuffs to mobs but they don't usually stack with other players' buffs/debuffs so it's best to rule these out.
Gorillas have an AoE move which is great for farming if you couple it with volley and their higher threat generation is important, as unlike sissy BM hunters, we actually hit a lot harder than our pets and we don't want to be getting any of that silly aggro from them!
To find which Cat/Gorrilla you want, head to petopia - it's the best place for pet information on the internet!
- Just you try and tame me...I dare ya!
Once you've decided and found the one you want, taming pets is pretty straight forward; set a freezing trap down, start taming the pet and as it approaches it will get frozen - which doesn't stop you taming - so you'll usually be able to get a pet tamed with minimal damage received. [Note: You can't have a pet out to tame, you can't even have one out and then dismiss it, so to tame a pet stable it and then come out with no pet (unless you want to completely release it and let it free). I can only imagine the frustration for a BM hunter if they are with their much-loved pet and they come across a spirit beast!]
I haven't read quite as much for surv/bm hunters but I believe the same applies for Survival hunters but for BM the best DPS is a Devilsaur.
Pets now have talent trees just like us, so you need to carefuly select which talents to give them, either to maximise DPS for a Cat or to Maximise threat/survivability for a Gorilla. Here are my recommendations:
The Gorilla spec is a little more flexible than the cat one so feel free to change it around a little. BM hunters will have 4 extra talent points to spend but this isn't a BM hunter guide!
Most of a pets skills can be left on automatic in the skill book but you can move 4 forward to the action bar to manually use and you should do the following:
The cat bar from left to right is Attack, Follow, Stay, Growl, Claw, Call of the Wild, Stealth, Aggressive, Defensive and Passive.
The gorilla bar from left to right is Attack, Follow, Stay, Growl, Smack, Thunderstomp, Taunt, Aggressive, Defensive and Passive.
The first 3 and last 3 buttons are the same for all pets, the first 3 are their movement instructions and the last 3 are their stance.
99.9% of the time you'll have you pet on "follow"
Using your pet
For a MM Hunter, your pet will contribute 10-15% of your DPS so if you want to top meters it's important to keep them alive. Not only do they have their own DPS but while they are alive they'll also boost your DPS with Focused Fire.
Think of yourself as a 3 man team, you play the DPS and the Healer, your pet is the tank. When going after Mobs, send in your gorilla, let it get aggo with a growl, taunt and possibly a thunderstomp and then open up with your shot rotation. In most cases you'll kill the mob before you get aggro but don't forget to heal your pet too!
A hunter can usually solo 3 man Q's too. Select your target mob, stick on a hunters mark, drop a frost trap and then cast heal pet. Heal pet heals your pet over time (it's a HoT) so it can be healing as it's attacking. Send the pet in and start opening up your DPS. You don't need to go too strong as you don't want to get aggro too quickly, so maybe just stick to auto + steady shot. This will keep the mob on your pet and you'll be healing the pet at the same time so essentially it's like you're a one man party! As a MM hunter you'll inevitably get aggro over your pet as your damage is considerably higher, so when the mob comes, strafe backwards while still firing and kite him through the frost trap. If you can't maintain this, feign death and start again.
Occasionally this is quite difficult to do if there are lots of adds. If this is the case, try Freeze trapping one and turning off thunderstomp (so it doesn't break the trap by mistake) and getting your gorilla to tank both while you target the main mob the gorilla is attacking.
You can use similar tactics with a cat for questing but it is far easier with a gorilla as they are tought, cause more threat and can recieve more health from your heals.
A note on your action bar: Keep your taunt abilities turned on but keep your "Focus Dump" abilites turned off. You want all your focus to be used on keeping theat rather than damage when questing which will be reversed later.
For stance, you'll probably also want the pet on "defensive" - this is great for if you're too lazy to send your pet in as it will go in automatically. Be sure to put it on passive when entering a town as some people can attack your pet, it will attack back and then you will be a target of the town guards! Died so many times in Booty Bay because of this back in the day ;)
Dungeons & Raids
With other people in the party, it is important to make sure you control your pet well otherwise it can end up in a wipe! I know - I've done it enough times!
For the majority of raids/dungeon, you'll just send your pet in but with all taunting abilities OFF (Taunt, Growl & Thunderstomp - although you probably won't be bringing your Gorilla). This is important as only the Tank/Off-Tank will want to have Aggro. This is why the Cat is best in dungeons/raids as they have more DPS and less threat. With all that spare focus turn your "Focus Dump" ON - so that's smack/claw - and increase your pets DPS!
In Dungeons/Raids, I like to keep my cat on defensive - this way when I start shooting the cat will automatically go so I don't waste any time pressing the "pet attack" button. Keeping it passive here is ok too. Aggressive is a big no no as it could pull other mobs from another group and cause a wipe.
When tabbing between enemies (if you do), be sure that they are the current group you're targeting before sending in the pet - I've cause a couple of wipes this way when I get lazy and press tab + pet attack too quickly! Learn from my mistakes hunters!
Another usefull ability of a pet is to help out when things go wrong. Sometimes healers can get aggro and as you're usually standing near them, quickly sent your pet to intercept the mob before it attacks the healer and quickly turn growl/taunt on to keep it off the healer. It might die in the process but this is better than a healer dying and it gives the tank some time to get the aggro back. Pets are also good for boss' who trap you as they can come and attack your trap and free you without getting anyone else to help (as long as it's a weak trap).
Finally, pets don't like to jump. In some places you'll have to make a jump, like from platforms in Nexus. As a pet won't jump they will run the long way to get down, which can mean it will pull any mobs with it for a lovely suprise when it returns to you :D Before jumping, dismiss your pet. This is the #1 thing I forget to do as it's a bit of a pain!
There are other clever little tricks you can do with a pet but the above are probably the main tactics to use and doing so can impress in PuGs!
Feeding your pet
Cats like meat, Gorilla's like bread. You can buy both from any inn so you shouldn't have any problems keeping them happy. You should always keep them in a happy mood as their damage will increase by 25%! The higher the level of food the higher the amount of hapiness they get. At Lv80 I find the Salted Venison the best value for cats and the Crusty Flatbread for gorillas.
As well as keeping them happy, you can also get food which gives the pets stat bonus' much like the ones we get. At the moment there are only 3 available and require cooking. Bizarrely, YOU have to eat the food for the PET to get the benefit, you can't feed the pet this food! It doesn't over-write any food buff you might already have (e.g. from a Great Feast) so it's not a problem.
The best 2 Pet Food Buffs are from:
Kibler's Bits/Spiced Mammoth Treats are the best two but the Kibler's Bits mats are cheaper to come AND Kibler's Bits can be used from Lv55 while the Mammoth Treats is from Lv70.
The other food buff isn't as high as the above two and at that level it probably isn't worth using, as these food buffs are really only worth using in the Lv80 "End Game" - where you're trying to Max that DPS!
Leveling your pet
You pet levels up by fighting mobs which are in the level range for you to level up, which I believe is from 8 levels below you to any levels above you. At Lv80 this is obviously a little trickier, so if possible level them up on your way to 80 or just bring them to heroics/Lv80 areas with you.
All the pet tree's are being re-done, Focused Aim will transfer onto the pet AND the wolves AP boost will stack with the Paladins/Warriors, so it's all going to change!
If you're a MM/SV hunter and you've already got a Cat/Gorilla like me, now is the time to get levelling that Wolf :)
I think Devilsaurs will still be the top DPS option for BM hunters.
The next step of the guide will be on gear, stats & testing. Stay Tuned!