Animal Instincts: PvE For Pets Part I

windserpentskinwhiteA lot of people are now far enough into WotLK to understand the instances in them.  The others, maybe not.  Either way, hunters everywhere will be trying to attain Massive Quantities of Sustained Ranged Damage Per Second(DPS).  However, this isn’t the only part of DPS for a Hunter in a PvE world; we have little friends called pets to help us out, tooth and claw.

A pet is an important aspect of the Hunter and his/her DPS.  A pet is not “extra”: it is a part of the Hunter.  Any Hunter worth their salt uses a pet.  If they don’t, they’re not living up to their maximum potential.

Therefore, it’s important to try to maximize your pet’s DPS, or whatever else your pet is doing.  Otherwise, you’re not living up to your potential.

This post is the first in a small series meant to explain my ideas on how to accomplish our pet’s roles in a group.

So, what is our primary concern in PvE? A Hunter is supposed to provide, first and foremost, lots of damage.  Secondly, they are supposed to provide utility, primarily in the form of CC.  Our pets reflect this as well.  First and foremost, they provide DPS.  But how do your pets do DPS?

That’s a simple answer as well.  They claw, smash, and bite their opponents into little bloody pieces.  In order for your pet to do this, you must remember the magic word: Balance.

Without Damage talents, your pet will not be able to do enough DPS to make the difference between a Boss loot, and a wipe.
Without Survival talents, then your pet will die, and your DPS will suffer.
Without Utility talents, your pet(or you!) will not be reliable, and their DPS will suffer directly as a result.

So without further ado, I will share my ideas on the(arguably) most misunderstood tree for PvE: the Cunning tree, master of Balance.

Cunning
The cunning tree is the probably the most misunderstood tree for many things, PvE being one of the main ones.  Many people are stuck thinking that Cunning pets are for PvP.  However, this is simply not true.  The Cunning tree is a very adaptable tree, and can suit any need, really.  Because they get 5% bonuses to Armor, HP, and Damage, they already have a very balanced stat line.  For PvE however, the easiest thing to do is DPS.  This build here focuses on maximizing PvE DPS for the Cunning pet.  Lets focus on the three things I’m looking for in PvE DPS.

Damage
For damage talents, we have Cobra Reflexes, Owl’s Focus, Spiked Collar, Feeding Frenzy, and Wolverine Bite.
Cobra Reflexes is straight forward: a 30% attack speed increase means more DPS.  It also means more crits, more procs, and just more stuff.  This is a must have despite the lower pet damage it says on the tooltip: the attack speed increase more than makes up for it.
Owl’s Focus is a weird ability.  It gives your pet a 30% chance that your pet’s next ability used within 8 seconds is free.  This is a DPS talent primarily, simply because more attacks means more damage.  If your pet can have a free attack, that means an extra attack.  Extra attacks mean more damage.  I recommend this talent highly.
Spiked Collar is a favourite of mine.  Simple, and brutal.  It increases your pet’s damage by 9%.  Must have ability for DPS.
Feeding Frenzy is a bit of an odd ability, largely because it’s the only one with a requirement that must be met by your opponent’s health.  So long as your opponent has under 35% health, your pet does 12% more damage.  12%.  That’s big! If your pet lives long enough to get to this point in the boss fight, then it’s going to do some serious hurt.
Wolverine Bite is one of the most useful attacks I have seen for DPS.  Why? Well, here’s a fact: your pet is going to miss.  A lot.  The sheer number of attacks it’s doing means it’s going to miss a number of them, which is a disadvantage.  Wolverine bite reduces that disadvantage by a bit, by allowing your misses to be used to have one, large attack. According to Petopia, Wolverine Bite does (Pet Level*5)+5 damage at level 80.  That works out to 405 before armor reduction kicks in.  That’s big.
(EDIT:I realize that Wolverine bite does not proc on Misses: your opponent has to dodge.  The idea still stands however: Through the sheer number of attacks your pet is putting out, your target is bound to dodge a number of them.)

Survival
For surviving, we have Boar’s Speed, Avoidance, and Great Resistance.
Boar’s Speed is counted as a survival talent in this case, which is odd.  It increases movement.  In a PvE environment though, movement saves your pet a lot of the time.  A perfect example is the Heigan Dance fight.  If your pet cant keep up, your pet will die.  Boar’s speed helps your pet keep up no matter what, thereby keeping it away from the exploding slime.
Avoidance reduces AoE damage by 75%.  In PvE, AoE is something that will happen in any instance.  There is a lot of it around.  Therefore, it is imperative that you get this talent in PvE to survive the amount of AoE there is.  There’s no second way around it.  Plus, you need Avoidance to get Wolverine Bite later on.
Great Resistance reduces the amount of Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow magic damage your pet takes by 9%.  In PvE, Magic damage abounds.  Especially in an AoE form.  This talent is highly recommended by me.

Utility
For this category, we have Roar of Recovery and Carrion Feeder.
Roar of Recovery isn’t a pet bonus, but a Hunter bonus.  It gives you 30% of your total mana back over 9 seconds, which a lot of mana in a short time.  For anyone, this means less time in Aspect of the Viper(AotV).  Less time in AotV is more time doing consistent DPS.
Carrion Feeder just keeps your pet topped off after a pull without you having to use mana on Mend Pet, or food to keep your pet happy.  This means more time pulling, less time drinking.  It’s more of a nicety, but it’s nice to have.

Stuff I Didn’t Take and Why
Great Stamina, Natural Armor, Lionhearted, Mobility, Cornered and Bullheaded.
They’re all great talents, but we don’t need them.  Great Stamina adds life to your pet, which is awesome! I didn’t think it was needed as your pet shouldn’t be taking large enough amounts of damage in PvE to warrant this talent, Especially if all it IS taking is AoE damage(which thanks to our build, is severely reduced).  That’s the same reason I did not take Natural Armor and Cornered as well.  My pet should not be getting hit enough, or hard enough, to warrant the talent points in either ability.
Mobility and Lionhearted, although they are nice abilities, aren’t necessary by any stretch.  Thanks to Boar’s Speed, the pet should be able to keep up with the Hunter in movement intensive fights, thereby making mobility useless.  Lionhearted, although nice, isn’t really needed.  How often is your pet going to be feared and stunned? Not often.  Which leads me to Bullheaded.
Not only did I not take the prerequisite ability(Cornered), this is clearly a PvP ability.  It’s a PvP trinket for your pet.  Like Lionhearted, the talent points spent here won’t be very useful for the vast majority of fights you should be in, for a PvE environment anyway.

The Other Build
For all you non-Beastmastery hunters out there, here is the build I would use.  The vast majority of pet talents are the same, but I took out Great Resistance and Carrion Feeder.  Hopefully, Avoidance will reduce the amount of damage your pet would take by enough to keep it alive, which is what we want.  Not by much, but by enough to heal it back to full.  Carrion Feeder isn’t necessary, as you CAN use Mend Pet and food to do the same thing.

Conclusion
So what does Cunning have going for it?  Cunning is a pet tree that, in PvE, epitomizes the one word that we discussed earlier: balance.  It combines Damage with survivability, and spices it all up with interesting abilities like Owl’s Focus and Wolverine Bite.  This tree is meant to be able to survive while dishing out large amounts of damage.  Which is, by the sound of it, perfect.
It doesn’t excel at pure damage, however.  That is the province of the next pet tree I will be discussing.
Until next time!

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