Friday, February 22, 2013

The Hunter Bond

Some people play hunters because they are powerful at a particular time.  Some people play hunters because they figure they are easy as the rumors say.  Some people play hunters because they like the mechanics of them.  And some people play hunters because they are hunters.

There are a million and one reasons someone can play a hunter, or any class really, but what makes people really connect with their class.  Warlocks know the feeling of a bond with a pet but not like hunters as warlocks can not choose their pet other then a selection from a drop down list.  Hunters are completely unique in many ways in the game and being able to choose our pet is one of those ways.

So what makes a hunter a hunter and not just someone that plays one?  The hunter bond.

At least for me, one of the reasons I fell in love with being a hunter, was my pet.  He was not just an instrument of destruction, he was my buddy.  I think that is also why many people that would prefer to play solo like to play hunters.  It is as if you are not playing solo.  You have someone with you at all times.

The AI for pets has always had a few bugs and each time they fix one it seems another pops up.  While they can be frustrating at times I like to think of it as adding a personality to my pet.

Does anyone out there remember when pets used to always try to get behind the mob and when you sent your pet in to fight it became a dance across the entire zone as your pet and the mob jockey for position?  I can recall yelling at my pet on more than one occasion to chill the hell out.

A lot of the quality of life adjustments to the game have taken out some of the bonding moments between hunter and pet.  Do you remember having to sit down to eat after a fight and throwing your pet a meal before you sat so he could eat with you? 

There was something about needing to feed your pet that made the bond solid.  He depended on you as much as you depended on him.  Or throwing him a meal after a hard fought battle or something to eat after he just died so that you would survive and you revived him.  Have to keep that pet happy you know because only a true friend would die for you.

How about when you went out and caught yourself a brand new buddy and needed to spend time with him to level him?  You would now need to spend a serious amount of time with your new buddy to get him up to par with you.  It was a time for the two of you to bond some.  I recall looking for pets closer to my level because the last thing I wanted to do was level a pet up too much because that was a major time investment.  On more than one occasion I recall grinding a pet up hoping to have it ready in time for a raid.  It was not just some spell in my spell book, it was my companion.

I remember being glad when they changed it so that any pet you caught was at most five levels below you because I had so often been stuck taming a pet I did not like the skin of because it was a higher level or spending some serious time leveling it if I wanted the one I wanted.  But that was the beginning of the end for that whole aspect as the quality of life change that came later made it so that our pets were always our level.  I liked it, but I did not like it, at the same time.  Where would our bonding time come from now?

All these little things you had to do helped create a bond between hunter and pet.  It was a traveling companion and a friend.  It allowed you to enjoy the solo life without actually ever being alone.  It needed care and attention and was not just some piece off gear that once you added it, it does what it does.

Even micro managing a pet became a full time job sometimes because if you allowed it to attack at a certain time it would mean death and the last thing you want is fluffy dying one hundred and one times during progression that night if you did not have enough food or he might just say, screw you, you don't love me so I am out of here.

I was never around for the beginning when you needed to catch pets to teach your pet abilities but from what I hear from hunters of that time is that the bond you created with the pet you spent time to build up was even stronger back then because of the time and effort you needed to put into it to get your pet into top fighting shape.

Over the years that was removed, and all the things I remember were removed, and each of those little things that helped build that bond slowly disappeared.  Even pet specs are gone as every pet can do every role now, even if some are more inclined to do better at roles than others.

I still have a bond with my pets because of all I went through with them.  Even when creating a new hunter and not needing to do all the things that made that bond strong on my original hunters I still feel that connection because that is who I am.  I am hunter and my pet is part of me.  Maybe that is part of the reason I love being one.  I've gotten so connected to my pets that I talk to them sometimes.  I yell at them other times.  And I look at them confused on some occasions and ask, what the hell were you doing?

My pet is just some AI run part of my skills but it is so much more to me.

Is it because of the bond we created when my pet actually needed me as much as I needed it or is it just part of what being a hunter is.

I wonder sometimes if the new hunters, the ones that never knew what it was like to care for your pets because you had to, to level your pets because you needed to, and to heal them all the time because they needed it and you needed them, have that connection.  Do they have the bond that we do?

Is the hunter pet bond something that happens, even without the little things that were removed for quality of life purposes.

I must admit I still throw my pet food from time to time.  For no other reason than I want to.  I still roll a mend pet on my pet after every fight even if it is at full health.  I still do the little things that I used to have to do, not because it is needed any more, but because it shows my pet I care.  I know it means nothing in game any more, but it means something to me.

Does the hunter bond still exist for new hunters that never needed to bond with their pet to survive?

I ask because it would be really sad if they didn't.  If there is one thing I look back on and remember with great fondness, it is my pet and I bonding.  Silly, I know, but what can I say, I am an animal lover. Now... to figure out how to tame the darkmoon rabbit.  That is a pet I really want fighting beside me.


  1. I'm a bit more the alt-type of player switching between classes or specs every major patch (or every second as of now).
    But I can still find myself in your descriptions: Whenever I'm on tour I have a pet on me. Normally any (always changing) small pet, called battle pet nowadays. But on my Hunter I'm not only using none of the battle pets, but I'm using the same pet for any kind of content I approach. Only exceptions are much needed buffs for raid groups, but still only hesitant.

    1. I oft times find myself upset when I need to change my pet for a group. I'll do it because it is needed, but I want to play with my pet. lol

  2. Then again, some of us play our warlocks as the emo loners that they are who aren't even worthy of demon company...

    My hunter does date back to having to tame pets to get their abilities and all I recall it being was a pain in the ass requiring way too much external research to figure out. While there may be a bit less of a bond between hunter and pet these days, especially for new hunters, I suspect most identify with a particular pet due to some circumstance (rare skin, enjoyable or time-consuming tame, etc) and that tends to be the way I am. At least, those who don't run group content with giant worms just to piss of the melee dps gnomes, dwarves or goblins who can't figure out where they're standing in relation to a boss.

    I tend to run my hunter with my original pain-in-the-ass tame pet:

    Got that one at-level back in the day.

    I occasionally alternate him with the white lion from Barrens (which, as Alliance, required some effort to find a friendly hordie to help out with) and the ghost wolf from WPL, that one I just think is cool even without the sword in the eye... I preferred the one without it.

    My tank pet of choice is, of course:

    Aside from the original cat, those all came along later in the game for me after all of the convinience features came in so my bonds with them have nothing to do with training, feeding, etc. I just like them for various reasons.

    1. I never got the slime when you could get him. I am so upset with that. Would have loved to have it.

      People can get connected to looks as well as actions. I know a few hunters that are like that. They have what they like and match it with what they are wearing. Works so much more with transmog these days.

      I've also seen a new breed of hunter that always has a battle pet that matches their pet. I've done that myself too. Like running around with my sporebat and tiny sporebat. Just to make rogues bleed from their anus of course. :D

  3. Blizzard really has changed the Hunter class over the years. Some for the good...some not so much.

    Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

    1. I remember two changes I was the most excited for when they came. Ammo stacking to 1000 ( I could swear I remember them only stacking to 100 but a friend tells me I am wrong ) and pets being within 5 levels of you when you tamed them. Those were awesome. Now they are both obsolete.

      I honestly do not miss ammo in any way shape or form, but I would like to see a new version of ammo added but it be like a rogues poison, a utility thing only, not for DPS.

  4. My wife and I began playing in 2008 - Me: a big dumb human warrior (only because human hunters were not allowed) and her: an elegant night elf huntress. We were a couple in game as well and she only ever had ONE pet. She collected a few for fun but never fought with anything other than her first tame and swore she never would. Sadly her enjoyment of wow became a dangerous addiction and she had to give up the game forever during Wrath and when prompted for a reason by her multitude of friends I have always told them the same thing: the call of nature was too strong for her. She abandoned civilization forever with her beloved cat. And I know it souds strange but I HAVE to think that way. I miss her by my side and Like to believe she is out there somewhere in the forests of Ashenvale doing what she loved most: hunting with her one and only pet at her side.

    1. That is a good story to explain her sudden absence in a role play way and extremely fitting for a hunter without a doubt.

  5. oh yes, Wow started for me Dec 2004. I played a hunter as my first toon. And I still have her though she is only lvl 80. I remember getting my first pet that I kept - Ghost Saber. Still have her. And going thru the game catching other animals to learn their skills then releasing and once I had GS teaching them to her. Never had any other.
    Even now, I still make it a point for each hunter to have Ghost Saber.

    I, too, remember the ammo and food. And I was always a beast master, thru the sunny times and the deep dark times. I figured, since I was depending on my pet, I best be able to take care of my pet - screw the dps, I might have gave up.

    Even today, I consider any hunter who is not Beast Master not to be a hunter's hunter. But thats ok if one wants to be MM or SV, I just can never be.

    I did not depend on priests or any other healers to heal, I did it. Whether by bandages or food, I always had them on me.

    The pet coming to within 5 levels was good. But the removal of feeding to keep the pet happy made me feel like I couldn't be trusted to take care of my pet.

    And ammo being removed - well, it made life easy and actually took away one of the reasons to be an engineer. But it would be nice if we could have multi-shot arrows (ammo) or hollow points (razor broad heads) for extra knock down.

    In life, a .22 can kill or incapacitate a human, in the game, the large caliber rifles or bows, just simply wounds someone and merely pisses them off. :D

    Good post GE - brought back memories.

    1. Well, in life, is someone shoot you and you don't die I would say you have all rights to be really pissed off. :P

      I like to think of MM as the archer spec. You are more an archer that just likes animals. It is there, but as a pet only. Survival, well, that just never felt right as a spec for a hunter. I really do think it should be a melee spec like it were originally intended to be, a tank one even, that would be nice.