Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leveling in Warlords as a Hunter

I have played all three specs on the beta and done at least some questing in all three specs.  While it will always come down to one thing, which spec you personally enjoy the best, I am going to offer my personal observations and opinions of leveling as a hunter on the beta.  I try to level effectively so the way I judge it will of course be based on that.  Once again I will say, level as what you want to level as all three specs are viable for leveling.


Pros: With its long and powerful shots marksman can make quick work of mobs in just a few shots.  Being it is the current best spec damage wise it is also the best spec to down the rares, seemingly hundreds of them, that you will encounter while leveling.  For leveling, with thrill for cheaper aimed shots and stampede for rare mob burst marksman can really do a good job of making it a smooth and easy trip to 100.

Cons:  With its long shots, while powerful, you could find yourself slowed down some.  Until you get kill shot at 35% you would never have a use for that powerful and free cast either.  The mastery, which is designed for standing still, goes against everything that has ever been held true for hunter leveling and that is that you keep moving all the time.  Sure, you will not lose much while moving, but it still feels off to do so when you are on a class that should be standing still.  Add to that the complete lack of instants, which make tab and shoot for mass tagging and pulling impossible, you do not really have many of the tools that make hunter leveling so fun.

Opinion: Leveling as marksmen will be slower than either of the other specs.  If efficiency is what you are looking for, you will not find it here.  Even as the top DPS spec it is not enough to even be worth considering as a leveling spec because DPS does not matter when the difference will be killing something in 13 seconds or 15 seconds.  The power of the instant casts that the other two specs offer dwarf anything MM might have to offer by a long shot.

Beast Mastery:

Pros: Your pet, duh.  One of the biggest pros of being a BM hunter while leveling is that your pet is powerful, does most of the work, can hold aggro better, and can hold more mobs at once.  With the mix of having instants for mass pulling, multi shot for beast cleave which will help your pet with aggro, and the powerful pet which kinds of sums up its usefulness, BM has always been a formidable leveling spec for hunters.  BM also still has burst which will help with rares out in the world which you will run across a lot of.

Cons:  Your pet, really.  If you are a full normal (now heroic) mode geared hunter even at the least your pet can one shot mobs up to and occasionally past level 94 even in survival and marksmen spec.  Imagine what it will do in beast mastery and if you have heroic (now mythic) gear.  It will one shot more mobs.  And do not even consider blink strikes as a skill while leveling as BM.  Remember, if your pet kills something before you damage it you get no experience, no loot and no quest credit for the kill.  Blink strikes along with your powerful pet will ensure that you are killing a lot of mobs and getting nothing from them.  So your powerful pet might actually slow things down instead of speed them up if you are well geared to begin with in the first few levels.

Opinion:  If you are willing to micro manage your pet, or are coming into warlords with an item level of 520 or so, BM can and will be the best spec to level through warlords with.  It has all the pros mentioned and the cons won't be as bad.  You might still loose some mobs here and there to the pet killing it before you touch it, but it will be less likely at lower gear levels and while trying to manage your pet.  So weigh that with how you like to level.  If you do not mind watching your pet like a hawk it is great, if you just want to kill everything in your range it might not.


Pros: From a DPS standpoint survival is dead last.  It does not have the power of MM or the burst of BM.  All of that sounds like a con right?  Absolutely not.  For leveling survival uses its shortcomings at 100 to its advantage.  Even more so if you have the four piece set, which can and will last you all the way to 100 if you have the normal (now heroic) or better version of it.  Survival has a fair deal of instants, has a steady and consistent damage flow and AoE DoT damage along with its pet being weaker than a beast mastery pet which makes it less likely to kill mobs so quick without you hitting it.  This makes AoE mob grinding so much easier.  Sure you will not have MMs power against rares or BMs burst against rares, but all rares out in the world can just as easily be soloed as survival even if it is at a more steady and even flowed pace without the big numbers or burst damage.  Add to the fact that survival has survivalist which heals you whenever you kill a target that grants honor or experience.  This will keep you healed up nicely should you take any damage. 

Cons: You won't have any on demand burst, you won't be able to let your pet do all the work against the larger mobs, you won't be killing things as fast as you might be able to be killing them in other specs, you don't have any hard hitting shots, and you don't have any execute like kill shot.  Looking at it from those stand points it sure seems like survival is lacking over all, which is probably because it is really lacking in all those things I mentioned.

Opinion: With many instants, many heals, and the luck of the proc on the four piece set, this makes survival the unequaled leveling machine when compared to the other specs.  It can keep moving, it can keep pulling, and if it gets itself in danger and takes a little damage you never really need to worry about it.  The pet can still hold aggro well enough with MD, you can still kill rares well enough, and you can DoT the world with all those instants which will make questing, and completing quests with all that competition so much easier.

Suggested leveling specs in Warlords:

Skills for all three specs while leveling (not 100):
Post Haste (speed boost), Binding Shot (control), Spirit Bond (healing), Thrill of the Hunt (more instants), Stampede (burst), Glaive Toss (instant)

1st: Survival:  Instants, healing and DoTs.
2nd: Beast Mastery:  Burst and pets.
3rd: Marksmen: Slow and strong.

 What will you be leveling as?


  1. Guide for shamans is much shorter:

    1. Enhancement. Melee. Viable.
    2. Elemental. Ranged. Equally viable.
    3. Restoration. Don't.

    That's it. :-)

    PS: Going to level my hunter as SV. I loved MM for a long time, that ended with Cata which removed arpen, etc. I also am still crying about Volley. It was such a great ability. Oh, well.

    1. I still miss volley too. Still have no clue why they removed it. To paraphrase blizzard from the time, "we removed it because it felt like magic and we did not want hunters to feel like casters" Then what do they do? They add survival mastery which increases all magical damage. Blizzard, where one hand never knows what the other is doing.

      But.. but... I want to level as resto. :(

      I hate running up to ordos on my shaman and forgetting to switch specs first. Get caught by something = dead. At least on my priest I can kill anything that attacks me while in healing spec, even if it is not all that efficient.

  2. I will be leveling MM, even though it is like driving a three wheeled car.

    1. You are going to love when you level and each level your haste seems to go down and down until you have a three hour cast time on aimed shot. /sarcasm

      MM can level well enough as it kills stuff quick and it can be fun, I leveled one as MM. But the play style feels so slow for me compared to the other specs.

  3. I will be lvling as BM, because thats what I've always done and I want to keep Loque by my side for as long as possible before I switch to MM at 100.

    I've never had trouble with my pet killing mobs before I could tag them while lvling in past xpacs, even ones I started in raid gear. My MO is always a single arcane shot on anything I want to kill, then I ignore it and let the pet finish it off. Is this not a viable strategy anymore? Has assist mode been changed to the pet attacking things you havent already tagged, or attacked you?

    1. You never had that problem before because no expansion has ever been so well designed from the start. It is made for people coming directly from 90 to the new zone, as it should be. Which means people with lots of gear can, and will, most likely make it to 100 or damn close without ever changing a piece.

      This basically means, if it is good all the way to 100, that you are insanely over powered in the new level 90 zone if you are fully geared. We never had any thing like that before in any expansion.

      Example of the over power. My rogue, not well geared, one shots everything up to 94. His legendary does all the work for him. Pets do more damage than the melee legendary in BM. Just something to think about.

      Depending on how well you are geared it is quite possible to lose tags to your pet. When I first transferred a character over it was in only normal gear and my pet was cable of killing things in one shot. It happened with MM and SV on occasion too with some of the smaller mobs.

      Your way will work, as long as you lead with a shot and your pet does not one shot it before your shot lands. Remember, your shots have travel time. Do not use blink strikes or your pet will beat your shot there 100 out of 100 times. If you have decent gear, I would suggest keep pet on passive and manually controlling it, at least in the first zone. It will ensure you get the tag. Around level 93 or 94, unless you are fully mythic geared, you can let your pet off the leash and not lose much too it.

      It still works as it always has, it will attack what you do, but sometimes if something gets a little weird, like the old bug, your pet goes insane. Kind of funny seeing it go all crazy and killing everything, but if some sort of AoE goes out, it will defend you and kill every living thing in the area.

      Don't know about you, but I think that is pretty cool, even if I do lose a kill or two out of it. Really helps the hunter / pet bond feel, because that is how it should be.

  4. I've done the pre quests i full mythic gear as BM and it went just fine. The trick is to leave the pet on assist and mass pull everything within range and let the pet do the rest. Regardless, i find that bliz should find a solution for the pet onehit problem. I understand that there's an issue with pets solo killing mobs but hey cant just design a class around pets that cane onehit mobs and punish us for it. Maybe this could be resolved by having the no loot mechanic kick in when the hunter makes no action for longer than 10 second or so? That should be enough to prevent afk farming...

    1. Kill Command doesn't count as a player tag either, which is really stupid.

      A pet attack should count as a player tag if the attack was initiated by the player. Blizz just has lazy code that looks at the character that did the attack rather than the character that initiated the attack. /petattack is player initiated. A Kill Command is player initiated. A Blink Strike triggered by an attack is player initiated. Et cetera...

      We don't have aggressive stance anymore, so our pets can't farm for us anyways. Pet attacks should count as player tags for all pet classes.

      I've learned to generally keep my pet on defensive and open with a misdirected arcane shot since I've had my pet one shot too many things. This works fine except on the Timeless Isle where pet aggro with elites is screwed up...

    2. I just prefer not to have to worry about losing kills to my super beast and still think it is best to wait until at least 94 before considering using BM. But as I said, all specs are viable for leveling and leveling well.

      Jaeger has the right idea however and that is how I would do it if I wanted to do the early levels as BM.

      I am 100% with you. If you are taking actions, as in actively playing, even if your pet kills a target you should get credit for the kill, loot from the mob and experience. If you do nothing for the entire length it takes for the pet to kill it, then that should be the only time you do not get anything out of it. It does seem like blizzard taking the lazy route. But I must admit I do miss the aggressive pet where I could just place myself in an area, go to the bathroom, and come back to a dozen dead mobs and a handful of loot. Sadly, reasons like that are why they removed the pet kill credit and aggressive stance.

    3. @Jaeger: Yeah how Kill Commant can trigger the penalty is beyond me. Clearly this is an active spell requiring player action? I didn't bring it up because I was on mobile and hate typing there so I kept it short.
      I'm using the same strat, with a glyphed MD of course. I might actually bake in MD in several of my macros (barrage, MS, AS) just for levelling. Tag everything, toss in a MS every now and then, and let the beast do the rest. I pull, loot and heal, the pet kills! Once you've got the trick it's really

      @Grumpy: you're probably right. It would be reasonable to go SV for the first few levels. But right now, I've got something of a SV aversion. I've never been a big fan of this spec, and I like how BM and MM play out. But the biggest reason for me to stay BM is the (very unlikely) possibility of running into rare-unique beasts so I can tame them on the spot (always keeping an empty pet slot). In fact I always keep BM as one of my 2 specs just for this reason.

    4. I baked in MD on arcane, with a trill proc, means turret pulling massive packs. I love it. :)

      I have never really liked SV either. I am an MM hunter at heart, even with the changes that I hate I can't wait to raid as MM again and do the 3 second dance to keep that buff up. But I will do what I feel works best and as long as I am still on my hunter, I am happy.

      There are a few new "rare" skins but the rares respawn 2 seconds after they are killed. Okay, might be a slight exaggeration, but they usually take no more than a minute to respawn, 2 at the most. You will need to be BM for the gara quest line, but again, you would be better doing that at 100 than doing it while leveling. So, as far as I know, there is nothing to miss out not being in BM spec, but do not hold me to that. Maybe I just have never ran into something worth it yet because it is that rare. lol But I am sure someone would have seen it if there was.

      I really hate that I have to keep BM as one of my specs. I often find myself SV/MM for various reasons. I wish we could tame BM only pets in any spec, but could only use them in BM. That is why I avoid where rare spawn pets are when I am not in BM spec. I don't want to see it, have to switch, or not have the spec, and end up missing it because of that. So I just avoid their spawn points all together if I am not flying around as BM.

  5. Probably nothing, as from all appearances they put a mechanic in the game that makes XP and drop rates evaporate the moment you kill 'too fast' , which from experience can easily happen during normal questing and Rep/Pet grinding.

    TBC Quest content esp. became even more obnoxious than it already was, certainly with CRZ thrown in the mix.

    Yes, they actually managed to penalize grinding in a supposed-MMORG.

    1. I read it and I don't like it one bit. That said, it's only the XP reduction that was definitely confirmed, and that, while unpleasant, I can live with. But if the loot reduction part is true as well, that's terrible and might be a game over for me in that it's serious and it's too much fail already.

    2. I really hate this idea. The only people it hurts are the people playing the game as intended. It will not hurt bots, if that is indeed their intention. Bots will be reprogrammed to adjust.

      If someone is capable of chain pulling, like a hunter, and killing mass amounts, more power too them. Do not penalize them for being able to play their class competently.

      Another thing to add to the list of things blizzard is removing and giving us more reason not to go out in the world.

      It seems blizzard changed its stance, they no longer want people out in the world, they want them in a city and buying their materials from some gold and item selling site. Not exactly good design, once again, from the brain dead masses that run the game.

    3. I have dived into what is known and this is what I got from it:

      1) apparently it was already present in the Beta, most notably the XP-reduction.

      2) it apllies to the killing the same-named mobs in rapid succession

      This is why some areas are highly affected (that furbolg village in Winterspring only has two types of mobs for example, same with the Basilisks in terrokar forest, same with the Gnolls in Redrige near the FP, same with the Trogg quarry in Dun Morogh, same with Azuremyst Isle areas) but others seemingly not (the Trogg villages in Deepholm, most Instances)

      3) news on Loot is mixed, though by its RNG nature it's harder to quantify.

      While only e.g. 13 pieces of Runecloth in Winterfall Vilage after 70-odd kills, or barely one stack of Cloth after an Instance pull sound like some serious nerfing going on, there is a remote chance that it's all down to RNG.

      Given the number of reports, you'd say something is going on.

      4) it seems to reset with time and especially changing mobs/subzone

      5) Blizzard has only said by Twitter it doesn't comment on measures like this (which is false, they did on the Raid-drop nerf from last year for example) .

      Given how people are unsubscribing because of this (including some of the more prominent posters from the official EU Forums) and Blizzard has no reason to keep this meme (?) alive for shit and giggles, to me that means that there is probably something going on.

      I hope people have their Captured Firefly (etc.) already, as with just one mob dropping it (0.07% according to WoWhead) it may very well have been made close to impossible to grind out anymore.

      It's really, really odd for Blizz to do this, especially considering they praised TI gameplay to high-heaven and that place being all about massive mob slaughter.

    4. It took me years to get my firefly. I feel bad for people now.

      This is odd being, as you said, they liked the TI concept of mob grinding and even added back mob grinds as how you get reputation. Why are they doing this?

      They can not say it is because of bots because bots will just adjust their programing around it and it does not effect them.

      If I had to take a wild guess at their intention it is the new rares in draenor. Rares always gave a hell of a lot of experience and these ones respawn near instantly. I have had one respawn on me as I was looting the one I just killed.

      If that is the case, being they are already set to only allow you to kill them once as labeled "rare" because after that they are just normal mobs, then have it give normal mob experience instead of named rare mob experience after the first kill. There, fixed, without messing with the rest of the game.

      This is the one thing that makes sense as to why they are doing it. And if it is the case, there are better ways to handle it.

    5. Technically speaking Rares only started to give inflated amounts of XP with Cataclysm, when they also started to spawn a lot faster (even during Wrath, camping a Rare was something you did over days, not hours) but hearing more about the Draenor Rares that could be the case - and makes your suggestion a much better way to deal with it.

      In general I always found it a tad odd that, even long before they started selling Boosts, Blizzard always has been so against fast levelling schemes created by players (banning accounts permanently and such in several cases) when their whole philosophy has increasingly been that levelling doesn't really matter and that End Game is King.

      You'd almost think that Blizzard doesn't like some creativity in its playerbase.

    6. I say they should let the players be creative.

      I know on my first characters I looked up ways that I could level faster and came across people saying, grind here, grind there, in the end I just straight out leveled by questing, but the thing is, people will always look for the route they wish to go. As long as it is not breaking the game, let them do it. Is getting to max level a few hours a few hours faster than if you did not do it breaking the game?

      And just look at what blizzard has done. Lowered exp now to the point there really is no reason for leveling. It is just to waste time. And that is coming from someone like myself that loves to level. It just is no fun in this game any more because it is too fast.

  6. What are your thoughts on AMoC for levelling? My baby hunter (level 89 atm) is getting great usage out of it. Hits like a truck, resets quickly and inexpensive focus since the redesign.

    1. At the higher levels it is a nice tool. Its damage is high, the mobs will die fast enough, and it is worth the focus cost. At lower levels things die so quickly that it is a waste of focus and you are better having stampede around for some extra burst if and when you see a rare. That is how I see it.

  7. Not really on topic, but I just saw a post on MMO about 655 T17 raidfinder gear being put into a new beta build tonight. The gear is tier gear...which I thought was not going to be in LFR. Did this change? Thanks

    1. They might have added it for testing purposes. I have full heroic raid gear already on the beta for that very reason. It is odd they would put a lesser item level gear in unless they do plan on adding it back into the LFR.

      Personally, I think that would be a good idea. Because if the LFR has nothing to offer than the majority of decent players will skip it and you might end up with group after group of 25 people that would rather AFK than play the game. Hate to say it, but LFR "needs" good players in it, and if they need to put some tier gear in there to get them to go, even if only on alts, I am all for it.

    2. From the looks of it, it is not so much Class-restricted Tier but more like the unupgraded Blue Dungeon Sets from Vanilla ie useable by all Classes of that particular armor type and role.

      I think it makes sense, LFR is for many people 'as good as it gets' , and if computer RPG history has taught anything, it's that people like collecting Sets and hence will continue playing certain content even if they're 'done'.

    3. I think if they are going to go the dungeon set route they should make it the full set, not just 5 pieces, that would be cool in its own right.

  8. BM as always (even vanilla). And since none of my hunters have gear greater than 492, it will be fun.

    But I do have a small complaint with ya - you believe in jumping around and constantly moving. Jumping around or not jumping around, does not make a good or bad hunter. Moving out of crap that can hurt one just makes one a good player, no matter the class. When I see folks doing all that jumping around I expect to see smoke coming out of their back-sides cuz their panties are on fire.

    But, don't think I can't move about like you, I prefer not too.

    Speaking of - I notice that all my gems have changed colors, and from what they use to be, both in armor and just sitting on a bank tab. I also see potions are no longer 1000+ agi (Flask of Spring Blossoms, now 114+ agi - odd number).

    I had a whole bank tab dedicated to gems that were cut, but they changed something terrible. 3 different colors are the same thing - red, orange, yellow are +20 haste. if I have had some blue and green gems cut, I would have prob seen those also as +20 haste. What is going on with Blizzards thinking?

    The new outline is nice. makes it easier to see instead of everything blending in (like you, I am color-blind - red/green).

    I had to figure out how to re-make my misdirect macro so it is cast on my pet all the time. with patch 6 it broke, like lots of other stuff. Got it figured out.

    A couple of questions on items that I am not understanding and truly can't find an answer to - and would appreciate an answer or two from anyone including GE if he is still talking to me -

    1) IRON HAWK- reduces damage by 10%. Is that also 10% reduction on the pet too? or just the hunter?

    2) Glaive Toss seems weaker now, a lot weaker. I am thinking of trying Powershot and see. Barrage looks different too. Oh well.

    3) I am using A MoC and like it. It is resetting faster than what it did before.

    4) I haven't figure out how to get the 100's to work, but I will in about a month or so - but it is going to be a bitch - focusing shot or adaption, it will be a bitch. ;>

    5) Seems all the major web sites and blogs are concerned with the patch 6.x.x changes to hunters for raiding. Thanks for posting info for those of us who don't do that.

    6) and the most important - How many pre-WOD quest lines are there? I only found one. Is there another or is it for raiders only?


    1. At your item level BM will be perfect because you are exactly at the level it was intended for. You will have a fun time leveling.

      I love to move, I am always moving. Heck, 99.9% of the time that I am so fast to move out of stuff is because I am always moving. I move out of it before it even get to where it was.

      When they changed all the stats the gems changed with them and became... a lot of different things. lol

      1) Good question and honestly I do not have a for sure answer.

      2) Powershot is a knock back and barrage can pull everything in an area. Even if GT is feeling lower, it is still safest.

      3) It is now a 1 minute cooldown and if something dies when it is on it, it resets. So you can use it over and over.

      4) For BM adaption. 100% totally adaption. No question about that. Just trust me.

      5) I try to post what interests me and while I am a raider, I do just like to have fun and do other things from time to time.

      6) Just the one that sends you to the blasted lands and then on 3 different hubs and back to the king. That is the only one.