15 Feb 2010

Heroics for Dummy Hunters (a guide for the rest of us!) - part 1

Welcome to my easy, step-by-step guide that will hopefully teach you how not to make us hunters look bad in heroic instance runs. It's hard to believe, but some classes just don't recognise hunters as the kings of WoW - this guide will show you how to hammer that point home, run after run.
In this, the first part, I'll be talking about preparation. Half of the battle to run a heroic well is to be prepared and ready when you turn up. So what will you need to know before you teleport in to meet the sad non-hunters who will rely on you to see them safely through their dungeon ordeal? :)

Running 5-man heroics is a great way of gearing up – the first random of the day gets you a couple of [Frost Emblems] (and check out what you can buy with those here!), and after that you’ll get [Emblems of Triumph]. Of course, you also get those for every boss you down in a heroic instance... and there really aren’t any bosses that should seriously challenge you at level 80, even if you’re gear isn’t uber-raid lootz!

Hopefully, these guides will give you some sort of clue as to what you should be doing as a hunter in these runs. It really isn’t hard; mostly you’ll be swapping between aspects to make sure you’ve enough mana for fights, then misdirecting all your threat onto the tank, and spamming volley. Yup – this is the lazy huntering guide to heroics.

At the risk of sparking some debate about specs, I’ll tell you now that your job will probably be easier if you spec as Marksman. Why? Well, you get Trueshot Aura, for a start: everybody in your party gets a huge lift to their damage, whether they’re a hunter or not. Plus you’ll also be doing the most damage for any spec if you’re playing properly. Please note – if you’re playing properly. There’s no reason you can’t spec Survival or Beastmastery, they’re both viable, but I’d say go MM.

Next you’ll want a wolf. Why? Because wolves have a great ability called Furious Howl which also boosts your damage... and that’s what we’re all about!

Before you head in, you’ll also want three addons (at the very least!). In order, they are:

Omen threat meter: You need this because the tank should always have the most threat of anybody in the group. The mobs you’ll be fighting need to stick to the tank who can take the beating they dish out. If they head for anybody else in the party, you’re in trouble – not necessarily fatal trouble, but trouble you can live without. The idea of Omen is simple – it tells you who has the mob’s attention. It will warn you if you are getting dangerously close to taking that threat and pulling the mob onto yourself. Make sure you keep any eye on the threat meters. A handy hint here is to go into the config menu and colour the bars all one colour except for your own. In my setup, everybody else is green, while mine is red. It just makes it easier for me to see what’s happening while I’m unloading Iceblade Arrows into a crowd.

Recount damage meter: You don’t actually need this, but it’s very useful to see how you’re performing. If I were in a heroic instance with you, I’d hope you could do at least 1500dps. If you’re in with very well-geared players, they can carry you... but you don’t want to be the useless one people are whispering each other about, do you? Recount will let you know how your dps is doing and whether you might need to gear up a little more or change your shot rotation or whatever. It’s not – and I repeat NOT – the alpha and omega of being a hunter. Do not let the dps meter rule your life. For a start, it’s not always accurate. And for another thing, some fights mean lots of moving and so less dps. What Recount – or any other damage meter – does is to give you a good idea of whether you’re ready for a certain level of challenge. And of course you can see how other players are doing.

Deadly Boss Mods: This is a great little addon that lets you know what bosses are doing in fights – and when you should be doing something in particular. Brohnjam is casting the big whirlwindy thing? DBM tells you it’s happening and warns you to move in. Loken casting his nova-party-wipe-move? DBM tells you when, and shouts at you to sit under his feet before you get blasted. I can’t tell you just how useful Deadly Boss Mods can be if you’re meeting a boss for the first time. You may still die, but at least on your next attempt you’ll know what’s happening before other group members start shouting at you in party chat.

One very important point, and one which hunters talk about in hushed whispers. Ammunition. Yes, I know - who'd forget to show for an instance without enough ammo to see them through it, right? But it's worth checking before you arrive and have to announce you're out of bullets. That's if you're lucky and don't discover the unfortunate fact about ten seconds into the first boss fight. Make sure you have enough arrows or bullets before you enter!

While we're on the subject of stating the bloody obvious, why not make sure your gear is all repaired as well? I don't understand why, but the first thing to take damage and break is usually your ranged weapon. So make sure you're not on 3% durability before you get inside. It's worth repairing and restocking ammo after each run you do.

So. We have a spec. We have a pet. We have addons. We know what our role is. We’ve arrived in the instance and are ready to go. But wait... first there are buffs to be had!

I don’t hold much with using flasks for heroic runs. For a start, they’re expensive. For another thing, you won’t need them unless your dps is pretty awful. You should be able to tackle heroics without a [Flask of Endless Rage] – but if your money tree drops gold like it’s forever Autumn then feel free to bring some.

Buffs, really, come down to two things in heroics. Yours and other people’s.

I know it’s hard, but don’t go haring off just yet in the sheer joy of being able to shoot things. You are not Cypress Hill. Wait around as the other players sort out their buffs – because you’ll get buffs too. I love (and I mean love) Paladins because you can get Blessing of Kings from them. That gives ten per cent extra everything. And if there’s more than one pally, odds are you’ll get Blessing of Might too. All the better to blast you in the face with, my dear mobs. Buffs also have benefits for your pet because its statistics are linked to your own – an extra ten per cent stamina, anyone? Hurray!

Other classes have their own buffs they can give you (Mages can give you extra intellect, which means more man, which means more shooting) but pally buffs are the unarguable kings of buffery. And if you start running into an instance, they lose sight of you which means they can’t cast it on you. So be patient... you’ll get all the carnage you can handle soon enough.

Your buffs should be Trueshot Aura and (initially) Aspect of the Viper. You want Trueshot Aura up all the time anyway but if you’ve died recently you may have forgotten to turn it on. Do so now! Aspect of the Viper simply ensures you’re at full mana when you tackle the first mobs. For a bit of extra wallop in your bow or gun of choice, try eating [Blackened Dragonfin] – this gives you 40 extra Agility and some more stamina. You can also feed your pet [Spiced Mammoth Treats] to give it a bit of extra bite as well.

Where do you get these delicacies from? You can either make them or buy them from the Auction House. Both recipes require a cooking skill of 400 to learn, each Blackened Dragonfin will need 1 [Dragonfin Angelfish] and 1 [Northern Spices], while each Spiced Mammoth Treat needs 1 [Chunk O’Mammoth] and 1 [Northern Spices].

Dragonfin Angelfish can be caught in Dragonblight – the best way is to fly to Moa'ki Harbor and head to the lake just to the Northwest on the map. You can also fly to Wintergarde Keep and head East until you hit the Dragonspine Tributary river. Both places should provide you with plenty of plenty of schools to fish from.

Chucks O’Mammoth, meanwhile, can be farmed from any mammoths in Northrend. My favourite place is near Dun Niffelem in the Storm Peaks. If you can fly there, head West along the valley and you’ll see packs of mammoths to kill.

Northern Spices are rewards from the daily cooking quests in Dalaran – or you can buy them from the Auction House for somewhere around 50s each these days.

All buffed up? Good good. Just one last thing before you begin... are you wearing a chef’s hat? Or a fishing hat? Or carrying a lance? Or a fishing rod? This sound silly, but the number of people who turn up at a random straight from their favourite fishing spot or fresh from the cooking daily quest will surprise you. Until you’re experienced and jaded and laughing at them from the heights of hunter mastery, that is, then it won’t surprise you at all: you’ll be sighing in exasperation at the nab and telling him in party chat to get dressed properly. But until that day, don’t be one of those people.

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