Sunday, May 31, 2009

Raiding as Survival: Priority

As you may already be aware, Survival is currently the spec of choice for raiding. This will probably change some time down the line(it has before after all), but for now, Survival is king. It is completely possible for a Marksmanship or Beast Mastery Hunter to top the charts when played well, but Survival is definitely best over all. Most likely this is because of the nature of the spec(s) versus the nature of the fights. I'll give you an example, albeit one purposefully picked to prove my point.

We'll look at Heigan the Unclean. Heigan, if you've never done that particular fight, is murder on your pet. You can keep you pet up through the blasts of green fire he'll enviably take, but you'll end up wasting a lot of your own mana and time keeping the pet up. I personally don't bother and just leave my wolf at my side. For a BM hunter this is nearly 50% of their DPS just hanging around!

And if you think this is a stand alone case, think again! Many fights are pet un-friendly and will cause you a lot of problems if you are relying on your pet for much of your damage. From Anub'Rekhan with his debuff to Ignis with his Fire, pets can be tough to keep alive and sometimes are just better off standing in the back with the hunter. This is especially true if you are using the new hunter's-best-friend, the wolf.

Marksmanship is more of a PvP spec, what with Silencing Shot and Chimera Shot. While I haven't played Marks in a while, from my observasions it seems to be burst-type spec, meaning that it can crit, and crit for huge numbers, but you can't garentee that it will happen and that makes it a shaky DPS spec, though that style is perfect for PvP. As I said before, both Bm and Marks specs can work as a DPS spec, but for the most parts these specs seem to be intended for other things.

Starting Survival

The first thing you need to know about playing survival is that it's based off a priority system. This means your shots are given a number, and you'll shoot in that order. Here's the commonly agreed upon priority:

1. Kill Shot
2. Explosive Shot
3. Black Arrow
4. Aimed/Multi-Shot
5. Serpent Sting
6. Steady Shot

Obviously you can't start with Kill Shot. Kill Shot is number 1 because if it's up, fire it. It doesn't matter if your serpent sting has fallen off, or if your Lock and Load just proceed. Kill Shot is by far you biggest hitter and you need to shoot it ASAP.

Explosive shot is next. If explosive shot is ready and the mob is not below the 20% health mark, fire away. This is followed by Black Arrow, which can trigger Lock and Load (more on this later), then aimed or muli-shot, depending on your spec. Serpent Sting will follow aimed or multi. Your goal is to always keep Serpent Sting on the target, but don't sacrifice your priority to do so.

Steadyshot is last. This should be used as a filler shot and should never be used if it will "clip" another shot. This means that if cast time on Steady Shot is longer than the cooldown left on your higher priority shots, don't use it. You are better off simply auto-shotting until your cooldown comes up.

I hear you, there in the back. "But Gossamer, you're missing Arcane Shot". No, I'm not. Arcane spells are for Mages. Oh, and its also on the same cooldown as your Explosive Shot, which is much more bang for your buck.*

So, that's your priority. Until Lock and Load procs, which it should because you just put Black Arrow up. So what do you do now?! Now, you change your priority.

Kill Shot is still top. If it's up, shoot it. Next is, of course, Explosive Shot. But don't spam it! What you want is a nice spacing so you don't override the secondary damage on the shot, which takes .5 seconds to go off. There are several add-ons you can use to help track this, I've found that I can see it easily enough by the debuff. Here's the priority I use whe L & L has procced

1. Kill Shot (if it's up)
2. Lock and Load
3. Aimed or Muli shot (the Global Cooldown will help you keep from overriding L & L here)
4. Lock and Load
5. Serpent Sting if needed, Auto Shot if not
6. Resume priority (This should mean another L & L, though you could possibly have Kill Shot up, if you didn't fire it at 1.)

That's really all you need to know about what to fire when. Obviously there are going to be times when you need to use something I haven't listed here, but those occations should be rare. Just use your best judgment and you'll be fine.

*Okay, bad pun.

Getting linky with it

Hey! Don't make fun of my title!

So to start, I'd like to talk about some resource sites and why you should love them.

A good place to start for information is the hunter forums. The hunter community is quite active and in my experience very helpful. Just make sure you've already taken a peek at the stickies(the articles at the top of the page with the yellow paper icon next to them.) and have generally tried looking for your answer before making a post on the forums. As with any online community "flames" are a danger, but if you make an attempt at finding your answer before making a brand new post you'll get some helpful responses. Just browsing around and looking at what other hunters are talking about can be a great way to tell if you are on track without making your own post. is a good place for general info as well. Obviously because it's a site dedicated to all of WoW they can't go too in depth, but it is a good place to catch changes and some theory crafting. If you look at nothing else on check out the hunter based article: Scattered Shots*. This article tries to keep hunter's up-to-date on the most recent hunter changes and stuff-you-should-know.

*Something interesting I noticed in putting this together: The author of Scattered Shots, Jessica Klein, is not listed in's Team section. The last article was written on April 30, and I know there have been some significant hunter changes since then. Hopefully this article has not been discontinued, though I fear it has. I'll see if I can look into it.

*EDIT* So in reading The Tuesday Morning Post on I found out that Scattered Shots is indeed getting a new writer.

They're elitist, they're jerks and they're who you should go to for any and all raiding information. Their theory crafters and number crunchers are out of this world and I highly recommend that you check it out. It can be a bit daunting at first; there is a lot of information here, but at the very least grab the DPS Spreadsheet. This spreadsheet can read your gear, gems and enchants from the armory and give you an estimate of what sort of damage output you should be seeing. You can also fill out raid buffs, self spec, pets spec and a multitude of other information. I mostly use the spreadsheet to calculate upgrades, since it can be difficult at times to tell if gaining X agility and Y critical strike is worth sacrificing A hit and B attack power.

While petopia won’t tell you what pet to get, it does provide a plethora of information about pets, what they do, and where to get them. If you already know you want a spider, check it out to see what skins are available to tame. If you want to compare a cat’s abilities and a wolf’s, check it out. If you want to know what pet is the best in a given situation, look someplace else. In that case, elitist jerks or the WoW hunter forums might be a better resource. Petopia is great for general information, no so much for specifics.

I think that’s enough for one post, don’t you? These basics should get you started. Just remember, when in doubt, ask the forums. Just make sure you put on your fire resist gear.

A blog is born.

As an avid reader of wowin... excuse me and a mourner of the loss of BRK, this is scary stuff. (Okay, maybe I'm being a bit over dramatic, but there are some big bloggers out there.)

I'd like this to be a blog about hunters, how to play them, and more importantly, how to play WITH them. I've seen a lot of misinformation running around about hunters, and a lot of it is perpetuated by people who have never played a hunter themselves. Though it seems to have lessened lately, "huntard" jokes abound and hunters generally have a terrible reputation. I hope to help rectify the situation from both directions, both helping hunters in better understanding their class, as well as help their friends a guild-mates have a better understanding of why a hunter does what he does.