How To Kill A God

By fang and claw!

By fang and claw!

Patch 3.1 is here, and it’s en force.  That’s French for “you’re about to get hit in the face”.

Things have changed for hunters.  Big changes, every tree, no exceptions.  None! So don’t go thinking you’re not changing, ’cause things are changing.

How’s that for redundancy?

The Beastmasters are having a field day with all the new stuff afforded to them.  Well, not really “new” per se for us, but the changes to our already existing abilities will change us quite a bit.

Okay, not much of that either.  Aside from the new pet talents, nothing has changed for beastmasters.

You guys have all read these patch notes, so I’m not going to bother doing anything but linking them.  However, there is something I will be doing: I’m going to detail what talents I will be using in our new raiding environment.  Although our talents may not have changed, our raiding environment has in a big way.

A note before I begin: I have been unable to to actually play for more than 2 weeks over the past year, so anything I say will require testing and a pinch of salt.

The spec I’m going to be using for raiding looks like this: 52/12/7

I have put together this spec from reading bloggers who have been able to play the game, and from the input I’ve been reading about what Ulduar is like for beastmastery hunters.  So far, not only is it fun/hard, but it’s also very different from what we’re used to.

From Chain Lightning to Firebreath, the AoE damage in Ulduar is huge.  You will be hit, and you will be hit a lot simply by being around.  This talent spec will hopefully address this huge change while increasing our DPS.

The beastmastery tree, to all intents and purposes is almost exactly the same as the earlier 53/18/0 build of yore.  Do you see the difference? It’s almost like finding Waldo, isn’t it? Happily, this is actually a lot more obvious.  Cobra Strikes is missing a rank, isn’t it? The reason is that we needed that point somewhere else.

If you’ll take a look at the Marksmanship and Survival trees, you’ll notice that things have gone either: 1) Crazy or 2) terribly wrong.  Not to worry everyone, the trees are acting normally.  In fact, this particular way of putting in the points makes a lot of sense if you think about it a little.  Allow me to explain.

One of the big glaring problems in the Marksmanship tree is that we are missing the Improved Arcane Shot talent.  We didn’t put any points in it! We’re also missing 2 ranks in Mortal Shots, a talent that’s normally maxed out.  So where did those points go?  This is where the Survival tree kicks in.

We have 5/5 ranks in Improved Tracking, which accounts for our missing points.  Improved Tracking increases all of our ranged damage by 5%, whereas Improved Arcane Shot only increases Arcane Shot‘s damage.  Arcane Shot is not the majority of our damage: annoyingly enough, it’s Steady ShotThanks to Pike from Aspect of the Hare, I’ve learned that Improved Tracking does more DPS than Improved Arcane Shot(I know it says “Pre 3.1” in the title of the article, but since nothing changed on our end, it still works).  In addition, I hate leaving talents half maxed, so I took 2 points from Mortal Shots to increase my ranged DPS by a further 2%.

That’s not the only reason I wanted to max out Improved Tracking: the other reason I put 5 ranks in it was to get to Survival Instincts higher up in the tree.  This talent perfectly meshes in with the Beastmaster tree, and yet it’s in the survival tree.  We should steal it…

We can discuss the heist at a later date.  For now, let’s concentrate on our big questions here: why Survival Instincts, and where did the points come from? The answer to our first question is simple: because it’s perfect for a beastmaster.  A 4% increased chance for Steady Shot and Arcane Shot to critically hit? That’s all win for us, as we love our crits, and these are our two most used shots to boot.  The more we critically hit, the more our pet crits, the more damage we deal.  Synergy is the name of our game, and we have it in spades with this talent.

The other reason we took Survival Instincts is for the 4% reduced damage from all sources.  Because of the rampant AoE damage in Ulduar, damage is something that can and will happen.  Anything we can do to lessen the damage a little bit is a bonus, and Survival Instincts is perfect for this: 4% reduction to all damage, and Increased chances to critically hit with our 2 most used shots.  Combined with the 5% from Aspect Mastery, and we’ve just gained 9% damage reduction from all sources.

The answer to our second question is easy to answer as well.  We took 1 point from Go for the Throat and 1 point from Cobra Strikes.  1 of these points is easy to justify: Go for the Throat(GftT).  We Beastmasters have a neat talent called Bestial Discipline; thanks to this talent, most of our focus problems are completely solved, and we have no need for 2 points in GftT.  1 point is still needed to keep our pet form being focus starved, so we didn’t take 2 points from here.  If I were to raid with a cunning pet, however, this would change things.  More on that later.

The second point we took was from Cobra Strikes.  Unfortunately, we needed all of our points form everywhere else.  Cobra Strikes, although a highly useful talent, needed to be cut down to give Survival Instincts its full power.  Hopefully, and this requires testing, the 4% increased critical hit chance to Arcane Shot and Steady Shot will negate the lost point in Cobra Strikes and keep our pet critting all the time anyway.

Equally important for us is how our pets are talented.  Beastmasters have two real choices when it comes to pets: Cunning or Ferocity pets.  Let’s take a look at how to talent our pets to our best advantage:
ferocity-talent-specThis is how a Ferocity pet’s talents should look like if your are going to raid with one.  We’ve taken as many DPS talents as possible in the hopes of maximizing our pet’s damage.  If you are still learning the ropes of Pet Management, then take 1 point from Shark Attack and place it in Heart of the Phoenix until you have mastered how to manage your pet.  It’s important to learn this skill as it is, in essence, how your pet will survive.  So learn to manage your pet!

Another change you can do is taking your points in Bloodthirsty and putting them into Improved Cower.  This does, however, shut out the opportunity to use Heart of the Phoenix if you need it.  It also makes Pet Death a bigger problem: it’s not possible to feed an unhappy pet while in combat.

Now, for Cunning pets, it should probably look like this
cunning-pet-talentsMost of these make perfect sense, and most of them can’t really be argued: you need all the points where we have them in order to maximize DPS.  However, you’ll notice something odd: I took Bullheaded.

This talent is, without a doubt, PvP centric.  Your pet dispels any effects that cause it to lose control, and it takes 20% less damage for 12 seconds.

Normally, you’d dismiss this talent: but we aren’t going to do that.  Why? Because that last part, “take 20% less damage for 12 seconds”, can save our pet.  When a fight starts getting really intense, our pet can and will be in the midst of a lot of harmful effects.  Using Bullheaded at a crucial moment can save our pet, and save our DPS.  It’s a poor man’s, every-cunning-pet Shell Shield with an added bonus of being able to regain control of the pet.

A big benefit to having a cunning pet is the Owl’s Focus talent.  Thanks to Owl’s Focus, you can take the last talent in GftT and put it in Cobra Strikes, filling it out completely.  This only works if you have 2/2 Owl’s Focus on the pet though.

In a nutshell, without any hands on experience, this is how I believe a beastmaster should be talented for a raid environment.  There’s really not much else to say other than test you talents, practice your pet management, and you’ll be alright when the Death God comes.


Creature Feature: Turtle

Oooooooooh reeeeeeeallllllllleeeee....?

Oooooooooh reeeeeeeallllllllleeeee....?

Turtles are probably the most symbolic pet of the tenacity tree, along with boars.  They are turtles: they have thick, iron-hard shells capable of withstanding any hit, and their powerful jaws can bite metal in half.  They are an immovable wall, incapable of backing down.

Largely because they’re too damn slow.

But in the world of Azeroth, Turtles aren’t just an immovable wall: they are a beast capable of taking on all odds and surviving.  They have jaws the size of a man’s head, and are powerful creatures; and for some reason, they can charge.  Don’t mess with Azerothian turtles.

Turtles are, without a doubt, a tenacity pet.  This means that turtles are as solid as stone, and twice as hard to break.  Turtles are capable of being tanks in 5 man instances and can easily off-tank in a raid if need be.  But in order to reach this kind of potential, the turtle must be talented properly, as they do not receive an inherent bonus to their survivability as of patch 3.1.

The focus dump skill for turtles is Bite, and their unique skill is Shell Shield.

Turtles on Azeroth come in 5 different colours, all of which are tamable.  Physically speaking, aside from colour, all turtles look alike.  This means it you like how they look, you’ll love all the turtles! If you don’t like how the turtles look, then you’re out of luck.

Turtles are healthy animals with a balanced and varied diet.  Turtles will eat fish, bread, fungus, and fruit, all of which are attainable at most inns.  In addition, with a high enough fishing skill, you can always feed your turtle so long as their is a body of water from which to fish.

Turtles are a symbol of durability, both in real life and in WoW.  Some turtles in real life can grow to be over 100 years old!

Turtles are tamable by all hunters.

Shell Shield: The turtle partially withdraws into it’s shell, greatly reducing damage taken by the turtle for a few seconds.

Shell Shield is a very simple ability with a very simple purpose: to reduce damage taken.  Simple abilities, however, tend to have a variety of uses and places where they can be useful.  The more simple an ability is, the more situations it can be used in.

For starters, the math.  The math isn’t hard: reduce all damage taken by half for 12 seconds.  If something hits your turtle for 4 000 damage, your turtle will only take 2 000 of that damage.  This is applied after armor reduction and resistances, so if your turtle has 50% damage reduction thanks to armor, Shell Shield will reduce that damage by an additional 50%.  Taking that hit for 4 000 from before, the armor of the turtle would reduce the damage to 2 000, and Shell Shield would reduce that to 1 000.

As you can see, Shell Shield is a positively massive boost to defensive power.  Cutting the damage you take by half has an almost unlimited number of uses! Your imagination is the limit, really.

The problem with having an almost unlimited number of uses is that sometimes, you can’t use it an unlimited number of times.  The same holds true here: you cannot go about spamming Shell Shield willy nilly; you must use it when it will be of the best benefit to you and the survival of the turtle.

For example, you have just sent your turtle up against a monster of equal level, non-elite, and your turtle is at full health.  Do you use Shell Shield? You shoudn’t, there’s no need.  However, if the same turtle is up against 6-8 monsters of the same level and his health is rapidly dropping, that would be a good time.

Shell Shield is the big red “EMERGENCY ONLY” button that should only be pushed in an emergency.  The 1 minute cooldown on Shell Shield allows for frequent use, but only when it is necessary to use it.  If you spam it all over the place, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you need it, and it’s not there.  Then you die, and your will turtle simply glare at you and ask for food.

Shell Shield, very notably, reduces all damage the turtle would take.  10 000 damage Pyroblast being sent his way? Try 5 000.  Turtles are, without a doubt, the most resilient tenacity pet in the game thanks to this ability.

Turtles are a tenacious beast, and can survive some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

Turtles are most commonly a Soloing pet, and they are excellent at this.  Thanks to Thunderstomp, turtles can hold AoE aggro very well while taking an almost non-existent amount of damage.  For this, turtles are recognized as being very powerful leveling pets, and they can naturally tank lower level instances without much difficulty.

Turtles can take this a step further, too.  Some hunters can use turtles to effectively tank level 80 heroic dungeons if talented and geared properly.  Some elite hunters can even use turtles to tank raids! Shell Shield becomes a great thing to have in this case, since some bosses have an enrage which causes them to deal more damage, typically near the end of the fight.  This “soft enrage” can be largely mitigated thanks to Shell Shield and competent healers.

Turtles have a place in battlegrounds if talented properly.  They can deal a non-negligible amount of damage, which is good.  What makes turtles shine is the fact they simply won’t die.  When used properly, the synergy between a hunter and his turtle can easily defeat an opponent or two.  Shell Shield also helps the turtle survive moments where the opponent decides to focus exclusively on the pet with the hope of handicapping the hunter.  Because they will be dealing an incredibly small amount of damage to the turtle, they will simply be wasting their time.

Battlegrounds and Arenas are all the same to turtles.  Thanks to the extra survivability, turtles are hard to kill.  This makes sure that any abilities tied to the turtle have a better chance of sticking around for the entire match.  The only problem with turtles is that their Shell Shield does not give any advantage to the hunter aside from a really durable pet.  Turtles simply don’t have the utility of a spider or the damage capability of a Hyena(which also has more utility, sadly) in order to be optimal pets for arena.

Turtles are passive, but powerful creatures.

Much like stone giants, turtles are tough, slow, and kind.  These gentle giants are famous for turning the worst situations into the easiest of battles.

Powerful turtles are the most intelligent turtles.  If a turtle knows when to hide in it’s shell and when not to, a turtles can survive even a dragon’s wrath.  I’ve heard stories of turtles fighting battles where they are horribly outmatched, and they still come out on top.

What is odd about them though is that they are deceptively quick.  When you normally see a turtle, they prefer to walk slowly.  If angered, however, the charge of a turtle can and will break bones.  Being charged by a turtle is almost exactly like being hit by a man-sized boulder.

Turtle soup.  Add green onions and leaks, and a touch of vinegar.

What did you honestly think I was going to say?

Creature Feature: Raptor

You best be not frontin' this Raptah.

You best be not frontin' this Raptah.

These highly intelligent beasts are better left in prehistory.  Their speed, their power, intelligence, and their cunning made these beasts formidable predators on their own.

But that’s the thing: raptors tended not to work alone, but in packs.  These incredibly intelligent beasts co-ordinate attacks on prey much larger than themselves and win.

These beasts were probably best left in prehistory.  Azeroth isn’t so fortunate… but hunters can tame these beasts, and be on the winning side.
Raptors are a ferocity pet.  This means that these beasts have a tendency to deal extreme amounts of damage, and can deal the most damage out of the three pet talent trees.  Thanks to changes done in Patch 3.1, ferocity pets no longer will have an inherent advantage in damage dealing capability and must be talented properly to do the high levels of damage they are capable of doing.

The focus dump for Raptors is Claw, and their unique attack is Savage Rend.

Raptors are savage, ruthless dinosaurs, not fluffy rabbits.  They only eat meat! Happily, meat is incredibly easy to find, as most animals drop meat of some kind when killed.

Raptors have 13 different coloured skins, all of which are tamable! Raptors can be found in bright greens, blacks, blues, reds, and even hot pink, making finding the perfect raptor for you that much easier/harder.  They come in two physical varieties: the intelligent tribal kind from Azeroth, and the feral species from the Outlands.

Raptors were popular pets to have back in the Burning Crusade.  Thanks to their high damage modifier, they were perfectly useful pets.  Nowadays, Raptors are even stronger than what they once were, and are particularly useful in the hands of hunters who can guarantee that the raptor will get a critical strike when they want it.

Raptors can be tamed by all hunters.

Savage Rend: Slashes the enemy for damage, causing a wound that does additional damage over time.  If the attack critically hits, the raptor will go in a frenzy and his damage will be increased.

This ability is interesting in that is does can do 3 things all at once.  First, it does initial damage, or damage all at once.  Afterward, it applies a  debuff on the opponent causing physical damage over time.  Lastly, if the attack critically hit, it gives a buff to the raptor which causes all of the raptor’s attacks to do 10% more damage.  This is as of patch 3.1.

Like a good number of abilities, there’s one thing this ability is meant to do: hurt things.  No fancy slows, no fancy stuns, just pure and unadulterated carnage.

Savage Rend is particularly useful if you can guarantee a critical hit, as this guarantees an increase of 10% of all damage done by the raptor.  Beastmasters can use Cobra Strikes to get the guaranteed critical hit, which is a huge bonus.

For non-beastmasters, your chances aren’t so high.  If the hunter uses Kill Command and then gets the raptor to use Savage rend directly afterwards, a correctly talented hunter & pet can get the critical hit semi-reliably, though it’s not a guarantee like Cobra Strikes.

Let’s do some simple math to understand this: a pet has a 5% chance to critically hit.  A correctly talented raptor will have 3 ranks in Spider’s Bite, thereby increasing this crit chance to 14%.  The only easy to access talent for non-beastmasters that can further increase this is Focused Fire.  By using Kill Command before the raptor uses Savage Rend, you can increase this chance by an additional 20% for a grand total of 34%.  This isn’t large by any means, but it certainly is better than nothing.

Beastmasters not only get lucky with Cobra Strikes, but there’s even more in store for them.  With 5 ranks in Ferocity, you can increase your raptor’s chance to critically hit by an additional 10%, for a grand total of 44%.

Even if the raptor doesn’t critically hit, the synergy between Savage Rend and Kill Command cannot be denied.  Kill command increases the damage done by the raptor’s 3 next special attacks by 60%, 40%, and then 20%.  If the Savage Rend critically hits, the the damage is increased by 10% for the last 2 attacks.  Instead of 60%/40%/20%, you’re dealing with an increase of 60%/50%/30% damage per attack.

Both abilities are on the same 1 minute cooldown, or 42 seconds if you’re a beastmaster, making them perfect for one another in almost every way.

The key to using Savage Rend is not in having it on autocast.  The key to using Savage Rend is in manually casting it when it has the best chance to critically hit, or to do the most damage.

For PvE, this can be and should be used as often as possible to the greatest effect.  For PvP, Savage Rend should be saved for times when you need someone dead very quickly, and it should not be squandered.

The initial damage is physical, meaning it is affected by armor.  What is unique about Savage Rend is that the damage it deals in full is spread out over 2 seperate effects: the inital damage and the debuff damage, or bleed damage.  This gives Savage Rend a great deal of flexibility.  The bleed damage is affected by Mangle and Trauma, which can be a poweful advantage.  In addition, bleed damage cannot be dispelled by a rogue when it uses Cloak of Shadows, so Savage Rend can be an effective means of keeping a rogue under pressure in PvP.

Savage Rend is a melee attack, so it goes without saying that your raptor needs to be able to wail on your prey in order to use Savage Rend.

Savage Rend is a powerful ability, but it cannot be used without care.  It must be used at the best possible time in order to maximise the raptor’s chance to crit and deal damage.

Raptors are intelligent beasts best suited to hunting large prey in packs, but they are potent hunters in every respect.

In PvE, raptors are very powerful.  Well timed Savage Rends can increase a raptor’s DPS by well over 5%, and even more than that for beastmasters.  With all the cooldowns available to ferocity pets, not to mention the hunter itself, raptors can really shine in PvE.

For Battlegrounds, raptors can help the hunter deal large amounts of damage in a limited amount of time.  The initial attack followed by a 10% increase in damage and a bleed effect will put a player at a great disadvantage if they don’t deal with the raptor quickly, but at the same time, you are still a clear threat.  While your raptor has eaten your opponents face off, you have been pumping the poor bastard so full of lead and arrows that his children will be constructs.  Raptors deal and incredible amount of burst damage that should not be trifled with.

Although the Raptor lacks the utility of a chimaera or a crab, raptors more than make up for it with their burst damage.  When an opportunity arises in the arena, you have to take it.  If you don’t, you are setting yourself up to lose.  When that opportunity arises, raptors perform a stellar job of keeping the pressure on the target.  If the target is a rogue, they can’t Cloak of Shadows expecting to get away due to the bleed.  In addition, a very angry dinosaur is ripping their face off, and for a great deal of damage in a very short amount of time.

Once again, I cannot stress how important it is to time your Savage Rend for the greatest effect.  It could mean the difference of a loot/a win, or a wipe/a loss.

In solo environments, raptors aren’t bad, but they aren’t going to make things easier for you either.  You can easily level to 80 with a raptor, but it might take awhile longer than getting a cunning pet or a tenacity pet.

Raptors are frightening.

Their scaly hides have been known to act in manners unbecomming of beasts.  They hunt in packs like wolves, but have the added benefit of claws as large as my head which can rip a chunk of flesh the size of a melon from you chest without any struggle.  They can leap great heights and distances, and their jaws are strong enough to break bones.

Other curious things I’ve noticed is that the raptors from Azeroth seem to be tribal by nature.  They create intricate stone necklaces and bands with feathers on them to denote rank and title.  If they had fingers rather than claws, I am sure we would call them Lizardmen rather than raptors.

Once tamed, these beasts are a pleasure to work with, however.  They understand complex commands, and can learn them very quickly.  They even have a sense of creativity, and can improvise thei attacks to suit the current situation.  They also seem to understand basic speech, and attempt to communicate back.  Through thourough study and dedication, you can actually talk to your pet!

The feral raptors from the Outlands, however, are a different story.  They are still clever, but are much more powerful and dull compared to their unmutated brethren.  They also seem to have an incredible sense of smell, especially for magic beasts.

Raptors are frightening, but very rewarding companions.  To tame one is a challenge, but one with an amazing prize.

You have to wonder if these creatures didn’t spawn from chickens.

They have the same kind of bone structure, the same shape, and they both lay eggs.  If their bones were hollow, they could fly.

But then I couldn’t suck out the bone marrow, let alone catch them to see if they taste like chickens.

Oh, and they do taste like chicken…

Under The Gun: Scatter Shot

WARNING: May not work as shown.

WARNING: May not work as shown.

Welcome to Under the Gun! This is where I dissect a hunter talent or ability, giving you pointers and ideas to help you know how and when to use said talent/ability.

Today, we’re going to take a look at a talent which is also an ability once learned.  What this means is that once you use a talent point to learn this ability, you actually have to put this ability on your action bar for it to be useful.  These types of abilities normally only cost one talent point to learn the Rank 1 version of the spell.  If there are additional ranks to the spell, you can learn them at you local hunter class trainer.

Now, let’s get started, shall we?


What is it?
Scatter shot is an activated ability, much like Arcane Shot.  You must use a talent point to learn how to do Scatter Shot, there’s no two ways about it.  Happily, that’s all it takes: 1 talent point.  It only has one rank.

It’s near the top of the Survival tree, on the 3rd tier, second from the left.  In order to talent it, you must have spent at least 10 points in the Survival tree.  There are no prerequisite talents for Scatter Shot, making it incredibly easy to obtain for anybody who wants it.

Scatter Shot is an ability that, when used, deals 50% weapon damage and disorients the target for 4 seconds.  It turns off your auto-attack as well.  It can only be used from 15 yards away or less, making it a close range shot.  It has a 30 second cooldown, and is an instant cast spell.

Simple Math
There’s not a lot of math to be had with this one.  Scatter Shot deals 50% weapon damage.

For my fabulous self, my weapons does 746-919 damage per shot, before applying Aspect of the Dragonhawk and other such buffs.  From here, the math is incredibly simple.

Carry the one…

Scatter Shot will deal only 373-459.5, and that’s before armor reduction.  The damage Scatter Shot deals is physical, so the already incredibly small amount of damage it deals only gets smaller.

If I was shooting myself in the foot, I have about 33.7% damage reduction with my wicked awesome level 70 gear.  So, let’s do more maths!

Drop the six…

Scatter shot would only deal about 247-328.5 damage to me.  This is hardly a scratch to my 13 181 HP, so this makes one thing clear: Scatter Shot is NOT used for damage.

PvE Applications
For PvE, Scatter Shot has very limited uses.  As we have proved earlier, Scatter Shot does very little damage, so it’s not going to be used in a shot priority.  It can only be used from up to 15 yards away unless talented and glyphed, so you have to be close to the action to use it.  Lastly, it turns off your auto-attack, which interrupts your damage even more.

So how can you use it in PvE? Well, there’s one reason for taking this talent: stalling for time.  If there’s a runaway mob(which, let’s be honest, there aren’t a lot of them nowadays) and it’s headed towards you or the healer, then Scatter Shot allows you to stop the mob for a couple of seconds while you stick a Freezing Trap under it.  That’s about it though, and since Crowd Control(CC) is hardly used in PvE nowadays, you aren’t going to be finding a lot of situations where Scatter Shot will be useful.

Not at all recommended for PvE

PvP Applications
This is where Scatter Shot Shines.  In PvP, everyone is uppity about getting in your grill so you can’t shoot them anymore.  Scatter Shot is your “STOP” button in these situations.  That Warrior not letting you get away? Bam, you got 4 seconds to do what you need.  Death Knight just yoinked you? Bam, 4 seconds.  Druid doesn’t want to be snared? Bam, you got 4 seconds.

This is probably one of the best panic buttons a Hunter has in their arsenal, and it isn’t weird like some other abilities I could mention.  *cough**cough*Disengage*cough**cough*

In addition, Scatter Shot can be used to interrupt a spell from being cast.  Is that paladin about to cast a heal? Bam, now he isn’t.  It’s like a poor man’s version of Silencing Shot.

Just a note though: any damage dealt to the target will dispel the 4 second disorientation effect.  So make sure you don’t have a Serpent Sting or anything else ticking on the target, or you Bam button will be short lived.

VERY Recommended for PvP

Soloing Applications
For Soloing, Scatter Shot has the same uses as they did for PvP; it’s going to be your “STOP” button in a sticky situation.

This is useful, but for Soloing, not necessary in the least.  Normally, your pet should be taking the hits, and if the baddies are after you, you should be able to get your pet to take the aggro again quickly.

The only time I can see this being needed for Soloing is if you are levelling as a Survivalist.  In that case, take Scatter Shot, as there is hardly anything better to pick for soloing.

Whatever floats your boat for Soloing.

Scatter Shot is very much a PvP talent, and not much else.  It is useful in Soloing, but not anywhere near a “must have” talent.  But for PvP, oh man, this talent can save your tush more times than you would care to count.  It’s another shot in an already impressive arsenal of shots that hunters can use to kite and control opponents, and this is crucial in PvP.

For PvE, this talent is useless.  Not a great many groups need CC anymore, and that’s all Scatter Shot is able to do.  Even then, it is only 4 seconds.  That’s only long enough to grab a cookie and stuff it in your mouth, and that’s not nearly long enough to be very useful.

Scatter Shot is for PvP, and that’s that.  It is useful in Soloing but nowhere in the realm of needed, and damn near useless in PvE.  This makes your choice incredibly easy.

And that concludes this installment of Under the Gun! Hopefully you are no longer scattered about taking Scatter Shot, and that you know how and when to use it.

Creature Feature: Dragonhawk

This Hawk is Hawt.

This Hawk is Hawt.

Dragonhawks are probably one of the strangest creatures in the World of Warcraft, alongside Warpstalkers, Nether Rays, and Sporebats.  Their beautiful plumage and strange features make for a very interesting looking pet.

Dragonhawks were known caster pets before patch 3.0.  This meant they had weaker stats than all the other pets out there, and anyone who used them was seriously hurting themselves in the long run.  No more.  Dragonhawks have come into their own since 3.0, and are an incredibly versatile pet.

Dragonhawks are Cunning pets, meaning they have a 5% bonus to damage, hit points, and armor.  This makes them an incredibly balanced pet choice, able to do anything the master requires of it.

The focus dump skill for dragonhawks is Bite, and their unique move is Fire Breath.

Dragonhawks were sub-par before patch 3.0.  Their caster stats didn’t allow them to compete with other pets for DPS in any way.  Worse yet, their family bonuses were to armor, and that was it.  Thanks to patch 3.0, however, they are now very good pets.  They still have a very bad stigma, but it’s baseless now.

Dragonhawks have 6 skins in game, and only 4 of them are tamable.  2 of the tamable skins are also incredibly similar, which kinda limits your choices as to what kind of dragonhawk you can have.  The ones you can have, however, are very unique looking, and can only be found in certain places.

Dragonhawk diets consist of Meat, Fish, and Fruit.  This makes the Dragonhawk incredibly easy to feed, as you can find meat anywhere in Azeroth.  If you have a respectable fishing skill, you can fish for food, and if you’re still short on food you can buy fruit, fish, and meat at most inns.

Dragonhawks were originally seen in WC3: The Frozen Throne.  They were a Blood Elf/Human unit with lots of anti-air abilities.  They also had another impressive ability that rendered ground defenses in an area useless, much like Corsairs in Starcraft.  In other words, an important part of a healthy breakfast.

This seems to have carried over to WoW now, as they are a powerful, but balanced part of your breakfast.

Dragonhawks can be tamed by all hunters.

Fire Breath: Deals fire damage to the target, then deal additional fire damage over 2 seconds.

Bad news first: damage is the only thing happening here.  No slows, no stuns, just damage.

Good news: damage is useful everywhere, particularly this kind of damage.  Fire Breath deals fire damage, which makes it a magic attack.  Magic attacks cut through armor, so your Fire Breath will do the same damage it would to a plate-wearer that it would do to a clothie.

As said before, Fire Breath deals Fire damage, not just any magic damage.  Any talents or effects that affect fire damage affect Fire Breath as well, and mobs that are resistant to fire are resistant to Fire Breath, while mobs weakened by fire are weakened by Fire Breath.

Fire Breath’s damage scales with your Ranged Attack Power(RAP).  The more RAP you get, the more damage your fire-breathing friend will do!

This attack is a Damage Over Time(DOT).  This means that the damage it deals is spread out over a period of time, which is 3 seconds in this case.  This is not a bleed, however, and will not benefit from effects such as Mangle, and can be dispelled.

Fire Breath is a ranged attack, and can be cast from a distance of 20 yards.  This allows the dragonhawk to start dealing damage almost the instant you tell it to.  It can also be used on fleeing enemies without having to catch up for too long.

Fire Breath is a very effective means of dealing damage, and should not be under-estimated in any way.

Dragonhawks are a very rare animal, but can make their homes relatively anywhere, especially in PvE and Battleground environments.

For PvE, a properly talented Dragonhawk can do almost as much DPS as a ferocity pet while providing you with Roar of Recovery, which is a very useful ability for PvE.  Less time spent in AotV is more time dealing damage.  Other powerful talents, such as Wolverine Bite and Owl’s Focus, give Cunning pets a great deal of damage dealing ability.

In battlegrounds, a hunter’s job is to kill stuff dead.  Dragonhawks fill that role very well, especially since they can attack from father away than most other pets and have all those neat PvP talents to keep them alive.  Because the damage from Fire Breath is magic based, warriors and the like will take more damage than they are used to.  This will also interupt a flag-capture.

Dragonhawks aren’t a bad pet for arenas, but there are better pets out there for the job.  Since Fire Breath only does damage, it’s lacking the utility that you can get from another pet such as Chimaeras, Hyenas, or Crabs.  As a result, you should probably find another pet to do arenas with, but dragonhawks will work just fine.

Dragonhawks are very strange, but pretty creatures.  Like their dragon namesake, dragonhawks are incredibly intelligent and empathetic.  If its master is in a bad mood, the dragonhawk will likely be in a bad mood as well.

Like their other namesake, the hawk, dragonhawks have great instincts and hunting skill.  Their eyes can see incredibly far, and they move with the swiftness and power of a thunderbolt.  This already impressive creature is made incredibly powerful by its ability to breathe fire.  This fire can burn almost anything to the ground, so it’s best not to anger a dragonhawk.

These creatures are very nice to have if you’re a cook.  Not only do they taste great when roasted, and not only do their eggs make great omelettes, but they can start a fire without you having to look for flint and tinder.

In short, these are large, but edible, lighters.

Under The Gun: Spirit Bond

Scalpel... sponge... my super gun...

Scalpel... sponge... my super gun...

Hello everyone, and welcome to my first Under the Gun post! This is where I dissect a talent with a gun, giving you all pointers on why to take it and for what reasons.

Yes, I am that good.  Dissecting with firearms, however,  is not advised.  Please do not do it at home.  Please.

Before we get to our featured talent, let’s take a quick refresher on what a “talent” is.  In the World of Warcraft, talents are passive abilities your character acquires every level starting at level ten.  These talents are very important, as they change your style of play in a significant way.

For example, a restoration druid will be able to heal very effectively, but the druid’s ability to tank and do damage will be severely limited. As a result, a restoration druid will be a healer, not a tank or a DPSer.

You need to be sufficiently talented in one area to take higher level talent in that tree, and some talents have prerequiste talent(s) you must take beforehand.  It’s also impossible to take all the talents, which means you’re going to have to make choices.

That’s what Under the Gun is going to help with: making your choice easier.  It’s still a choice, but the information presented here will hopefully give everyone a clear understanding of what the talent is capable of doing.  Now, without anymore blathering, lets get to analyzing this installment’s talent: Spirit Bond.


What is it?
Spirit Bond is a mid-level beastmastery talent with no prerequisite.  It’s located on the 5th tier, and has two ranks.  You must be at least level 30 and have 20 points invested in the tree in order to get it.

When you get it, Spirit Bond has two effects.  First, you and your pet will regenerate 1%/2% of your total hit points every 10 seconds.  The second effect is that healing done to both you and your pet is now increased by 5%/10%.  If your pet dies or is dismissed, neither effect takes place.

To note, the bonus healing from Spirit Bond affects all healing done: bandages, healing spells, potions, bloodthirsty, Spirit Bond itself… everything that heals you or your pet will heal for 10% more than usual.

Simple Math
Right now, I am sporting 13 181 hp total.  So long as I have my pet with me, I will be regenerate 263-264 hit points(2% of my total health) every ten seconds.  This is before applying the healing bonus however: after applying the bonus to healing, I will be gaining 289-270 every 10 seconds.

My wolf, Link, has around 9 500 hit points.  Link will regenerate 190 hit points before the healing bonus, and 209 hit points after the bonus, every ten seconds.

If I am being healed by a priest’s greater heal, they normally heal for about 9 500 and hit critically for 14 500 hit points.  When we do the math, a 9 500 heal will actually heal us for around 10 450 while a critical hit will heal us for 15 950.  For the normal heal, that’s an extra 950 hit points, while the critical hit has an extra 1 450, all thanks to Spirit Bond.  That’s a lot of extra hit points!

PvE Applications
Spirit Bond doesn’t contribute very well to a raiding or dungeon-crawling experience.  The healing is nice, but a smart hunter should be able to avoid a lot of incoming damage, and therefore not need the extra healing.

If you are working through progression content, however, the extra heals might mean the difference between a wipe and a kill if you are walking in to the fight blind.  It allows for errors, which happens in an instance you’re not familiar with.  Once you are familiar with a fight though, you shouldn’t need this talent anymore.

Not Reccomended for PvE

PvP Applications
This talent is incredibly potent in PvP.  Heals are the lifeblood of PvP, and a team without heals will always lose to one with them.  Spirit Bond makes for free heals, and free heals are always good in PvP.  The increase in heals allows you to bandage yourself for more hit points in arenas, recover from a battle more quickly, and eat faster.

For Beastmasters involved in PvP, this talent is spectacular.

Heartily Reccomended for PvP

Solo Applications
Spirit Bond is a very good talent to have while soloing.  There are times where you pull more than you can chew, and Spirit Bond’s heals help with that a great deal.

A Mend Pet that normally heals for 1 050 every 3 seconds now heals for 1 165 instead.  A mend pet in its entirety heals for 5 250 hit points.  Now it heals for 5 775 instead.  This kind of healing advantage can save you in tricky situations, deal with tougher foes, and keep questing for longer periods without having to eat food and rest.

Heartily Reccomended for Soloing

Spirit Bond is a PvP/soloing talent, with a some very minor applications in PvE.  I would not normally use Spirit Bond in any PvE setting, as my job is to deal damage and avoid incoming damage to the best of my ability.  Healing myself doesn’t get me brownie points, so I don’t get Spirit Bond normally in PvE.

For PvP and soloing, I take this talent, hands down, no issues.  It helps my healers keep me alive, it helps them keep my pet alive, and it gives me and edge to outlast any opponents(like rogues) with little to no self healing ability.

Overall, Spirit Bond is a quality talent in a good number of situations, but it doesn’t really sparkle in PvE environments.

That’s it for Under the Gun, for now! If you have anymore questions, comments, queries, or even a request for the next talent to be examined, please e-mail me! You can find my e-mail under my “Contact me!” page.

Au revoir, for now.


The Prophecy Is Complete

That explains all the good news thus far.

That explains all the good news thus far.

For hunters, there is always “the Prophecy.”

The prophecy goes as follows: “When Blizzard giveth, it taketh away as well.”

So far, the majority of changes on the PTR have been good.  But it always a good idea to analyze changes as they come, undocumented or otherwise.  The changes I’ll be taking a look at are undocumented, but are startling in several ways if they come to pass.

Lets take a look.

And remember! These are undocumented as of yet, and all of these should be taken with a grain of salt.


Beast Mastery

  • Aspect of the Viper now requires a ranged weapon.
    I’m not impressed with this one.  In arena, it’s annoying enough as it is to have to regain mana using viper, especially if you’re already stuck in melee.  Now we can’t get mana in melee anymore? This is a huge deal for PvP, where being stuck in melee with AotV allowed you to at least gain some mana out of it.  Now you can’t.
    Maybe it’s not as big as I’m making it out to be, but this change could hurt arena hunters quite a bit, I think.


  • Trap Mastery now increases the duration of Frost Trap and Freezing Trap by 10% (Down from 20%), the periodic damage done by Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap, and Black Arrow by 10/20/30%, and increases the number of snakes summoned by Snake Trap by 30/60/90.
    This change solely focused on PvP.  What is it trying to do? Simple: make frost and freezing trap somewhat less desirable and making all the other traps more so.  Although, 90 snakes? Isn’t that… overkill? I suggest that everyone wait until this one gets documented.  90 snakes is a lot of snakes, to say the least.  As far as the nerf to freezing and frost trap goes, it’s not huge really.  It’s just undesirable.


  • Stampede(Rhino) no longer knockbacks the target but causes it to take  25% additional damage from bleed effects for 1 min instead.
    First you get rid of Rhino Bowling, now you get rid of the bleed effect and what’s left of the knockback and replace it with this crap? What in the Sunwell is Blizzard thinking? Hunter’s don’t own bleeds, unless they’re specced marksmen.  But you can’t get bleeds with rhinos. Why? They’re exotic.  Means if you have a rhino, no piercing shots for you.
    So what does this mean? It means that druids and rogues are going to laugh at us, and make our poor rhinos their bleed buffers.  Yay.  I’m not sure this is what I asked for when I asked for “more utility.”
  • Spore Cloud(Sporebat)’s range was increased from 5 to 6 yards.
    This is about as groundbreaking as the changes to clams.  It will break the ground I say! The world will tremble.  One.  Yard.  More. The world will burn in the spores of our new masters.

So what’s to say about these changes? PvP nerfs that annoy me.  Rhinos have been rendered completely useless, which is the opposite of useful.  Sporebats will rule the world, as their reach now extends a whole whopping 6 yards.

Boo ya.  Lets whip out the party banana, because it just got real, bizoy.


Creature Feature: Windserpent

I just hope Harrison Jones doesn't run into these.

I just hope Harrison Jones doesn't run into these.

Windserpents are mysterious, yet beautiful creatures.  Like snakes, they have long, sinewy bodies with multicoloured scales; they also have wings.

Before Patch 3.0, windserpents were a close 4th on the “pets you should have” list.  Before 3.0, this was a huge deal.  If you were in a serious guild and had a windserpent, you wouldn’t be seen as a total huntard.  That says a lot about their power before 3.0.

Like the lightning they wield, windserpents are quick, powerful, and brutal.  The changes made in patch 3.0 only augmented their power.


Windserpents are Cunning pets.  This means they are completely balanced: 5% increases to armor, hit points, and damage.  What this means is that a windserpent can potentially do anything, provided you talent them properly.

The focus dump skill for windserpents is Bite, and their unique move is Lightning Breath.

Windserpents are one of the more popular pets in World of Warcraft.  Before patch 3.0 though, a great number of them had “caster” stats.  This meant that they were worse in every respect than a pet without them.  However, this has remedied: all windserpents are perfectly fine.

Windserpents are beautiful pets, with great colouration.  They have 10 different skins, all of which are tamable.  Windserpents are truly a stunning pet thanks to the variety of colours they can have.

Windserpents eat fish, cheese, and bread.  If you level your fishing, finding food for these pets isn’t hard: otherwise, you’re going to be shelling out some cash for cheese and bread at your local inkeeper.

Windserpents are tamable by all hunters.


Lightning Breath: Does nature damage to a single enemy.

Lightning Breath is a very straightforward ability: do damage to an enemy.  While this comes as a weak point because of the lack of special effects(like a slow or a casting time reduction), that’s also Lightning Breath’s strength.  Damage is useful anywhere, and there’s no argument with that.

In addition, it’s nature damage.  This is important for a couple reasons.  First, it means that Lightning Breath bypasses armor, as it is a magic attack.  Second, it means it can be resisted by nature resistant/immune mobs.

Lightning Breath, like most other pet attacks, scales with your Attack Power.  The stronger you get, the stronger your pet gets! It’s a win-win situation.

Lastly, Lightning Breath is ranged.  Windserpents can attack form range, meaning they get a jump on DPS the instant they get within range to use it.  No need to worry: unlike pre-3.0, Lightning Breath can be cast in melee range.  Your windserpent won’t have to run out of melee in order to cast it.


Windserpents make their homes anywhere, but particularly in PvE and large-scale PvP areas(Battlegrounds, Wintergrasp, etc).

When specced properly, windserpents can put out incredible amounts of DPS in a raid.  Their balanced stats currently place them behind Ferocity pets on DPS meters, but the extra utility they bring the hunter is stellar.  Roar of Recovery allows you to regain a great deal of mana in a very small amount of time.  More time spent out of AotV is more time spent dealing damage.  In addition, Wolverine Bite is a very powerful move, and is only available to Cunning pets.

For Soloing, they have many talents that help with survivability.  One talent in particular helps keep winserpents running: Carrion Feeder.  Thanks to Carrion Feeder, cunning pets of all kinds can quickly heal and feed themselves, saving you time, money, and food.

For large-scale PvP, windserpents have many powerful talents designed to help deal lots of damage while mitigating incoming damage, such as Cornered.  In addition, some of the damage windserpents do is magical, and pierces through armor.  Paladins and Warriors can’t hide behind their plate: magic goes through it.

In Arenas though, windserpents tend to be at a disadvantage.  It’s not that they’re bad.  It’s only that Lightning Breath has no additional effects(like slows and stuns, for instance) which are almost necessary in an arena environment.  As a result, windserpents don’t like arenas very much.


These creatures are beautiful, and elegant.  Like the lightning they wield, windserpents are fast, powerful, and without mercy.

When friendly to you, windserpents are almost like another person.  They are incredibly intelligent, and one wonders if they are, in fact, smarter than some humanoids.  They’re certainly smarter than kobolds.

They have long teeth, but unlike their serpentine brethren, they are not venemous.  Not that that’s the dangerous part: they spew lightning from their mouths!

If you see an unfriendly windserpent, make sure to keep your distance unless you know what you are doing.  They are a deadly as they are beautiful… but when befriended, they make for loyal, intelligent, and often very rewarding comerades.


Use a stick, and pierce the wings.  Slowly woast the wings over a fire, glazing them with sauce.  Use a brush while glazing, as you don’t want the sauce to pool up in some areas and not be found in others.  Make sure you don’t overcook it, or you’ll be eating leather.

Because of their inherent energy, windserpents have a very strong, bitter-sweet taste.  Best to use a sweet or sour sauce to glaze the wings with.

Serve wings with cheesed nachos, and you’re golden.

Pet Talent Peek Show

His eyes glow red! That's talent... right?

His eyes glow red! That's talent... right?

Every day now, it feels like patch 3.1 might drop down on us like a 10 ton hammer.  The skies will burn red, the rivers will run with blood, and the world as we know it will end.

As if.  There are going to be changes, but most of them will be beneficial to us hunters.  Blizzard has given Survivalists Black Arrow, Marksmens are now officially the Ranged Arms Warrior(RAW for short.  I want 25 cents every time I see it! Got that Fox?)… and Beastmasters lost Improved Wing Clip.

All jokes aside, Beastmasters got something new and shiny to play with… a whole new tier of pet talents that no one else can really access.  Survivalists and RAW’s can only get one point in the new tiers, but Beastmasters can access all of the goodies up there if they so wish.  By doing so, however, we further stretch our points thin.  This is the tricky part: how do we decide our pet’s points now with these new talents at the top?

Well, seeing as I have 5 pets, I will show you how I will use my pet’s talents to their maximum potential, so long as the talent trees continue to look as they do on the PTR.  If you are unfamiliar with how they look, there is no need to worry: I will show you visuals.  These are guidelines, so you can fiddle with the points as you see fit.  Furthermore, this is not a guide: guides will have to wait until the patch drops, and when I re-do my guides for pets.  As a result, I am not going into a lot of detail here.

Radix: PvP
A lot of these choices are explained in my Furry Gladiators post for Ferocity pets.  The big difference is that the new tier of pet talents gives us Shark Attack.  See the talent in the bottom left? That’s it.  Shark Attack is only available to Ferocity pets.  It increases your pet’s damage with all attacks by 3/6%.  Layman’s terms, it’s a glorified Spiked Collar, but with 2 points total instead of 3.

The other way I’d be tempted to go is by taking one point from Shark Attack and both points in Improved Cower, and place them into Call of the Wild and Wild Hunt.  Wild Hunt is a new talent for all pets.  It increases the bonuses your pet gets from your stamina and your attack power by 20% and 10%/40% and 20% respectively.  It’s a very powerful talent, and has different uses for every tree.

I’ll talk about it more another day.  Now, lets see what would happen to Link.

Link: PvE
Once again, I followed my own advice from my PvE guide for Ferocity Pets.  But with the two new talents into the mix, it makes the tree a bit top heavy.

The only way I’d change this is by taking 1 point from Shark Attack and placing it in Heart of the Phoenix.  That ability has been so useful, I don’t know how I’d live without it.

Now, how about Lucas?

Lucas: Solo Tank
You’re going to notice two new things here: First, the weird rock-fist in the middle-right of the tree, and the gorilla face at the bottom.

Let me start by saying that Tenacity got the most love out of the three trees in 3.1, so far.  The rock-fist? It’s Thunderstomp.  The fabled gorilladin isn’t just gorillas anymore: it now applies to all tenacity pets.  For soloing, Thunderstomp is going to make it so much easier.

The gorilla face is a new talent called Silverback.  Whenever your pet growls, it gets healed for 1/2% of its maximum health.  Another self heal? For soloing, this is also going to be very nice to have.

How about tenacity PvP? Look no farther: Jormungandr has the answer.

Jormungandr: PvP
jormungandr-31-pvp1Why no Silverback? Because your pet doesn’t like growling players.  And even if he does, I think it’s more useful to have more HP and attack power.  Hence, the use of Wild Hunt for Tenacity: boosting damage and durability, making it a serious threat in PvP.

If I had to change anything, I’d take Boar’s Speed and put the point into Pet Barding.  That’s about it though.

But what about cunning pets? Fafnir will show you.

Fafnir: PvP
So what are the new talents in the Cunning Tree? We all know Grace of the Mantis and Roar of Sacrifice, don’t we? They’re in the tenacity tree too!

In short, this is very useful, but it’s also the biggest cop-out since 41 point Trap Mastery in the Survival tree.

But what about Cunning PvE? Well, I’m going to borrow a Wind Serpent to show you.

Cunning Pet: PvE
Obviously different looking, yes? Hence the use of WIld Hunt in the Cunning tree: PvE DPS.  Completely different use than in the tenacity tree, where it’s for PvP viability.

As I have said before, this is not a guide on “how to.”  This is only what I am planning on doing for my pets.  If anything, this is just a glimpse into what might happen should patch 3.1 drop tomorrow or soon afterwards.  Personally, I’m looking forward to these new talents, although it’s getting hard to see where to put some of them sometimes.

So, how talented are your pets? How do you think they will change with this new tier of talents?

Plotting A Kill

Have a plan to kill everyone you meet!

Have a plan to kill everyone you meet!

Well, since I can’t actually go out there and shoot things dead, I have been planning on how to talent myself and my pets to kill stuff quickly and efficiently.

Plotting the kill, so to speak.

Now, it’s too early to write guides, so I’m not going into extreme detail.  However, if all the changes go through, my talents will look similar to what I’m about to show you, for PvP at least.  I’ll do PvE next post.

As most of you know, I’m a Beastmaster first and foremost.  As a result, all my talent choices for the pets I will show you will be with the 4 extra points from Beastmastery.  When the time comes for my guides, I will do posts for everyone.  For now though, I need more experience with them before I can go about posting about them!

So, how will I talent myself for PvP? Simplicity itself.  You need only click here.

The way I look at it is this: Beastmaster hunters are focused, in PvP, on surviving everything.  We don’t have the damage capabilities of Survival, nor the utility that Marksmanship provides.  We still dish out lots of damage, but as a Beastmaster, we have the most Durability talents out there.  Therefore, we’re tanking.

Spirit Bond, Thick Hide, Endurance Training, Catlike Reflexes… the build has a lot of durability.  For PvP, this is absolutely needed, and the majority of these points also increase pet durability as well.  This is necessary, as Beastmastery PvP is centered around keeping your pet alive.  If the pet dies, it’s a huge problem: it’s almost as bad as losing a member of the team.

So, there’s durability.  The other important part of PvP is damage.  Beastmasters get damage talents by accident.  It’s impossible to move to the top of the tree without getting DPS talents.  Between Bestial Wrath, Ferocity, Kindred Spirits, and Ferocious Inspiration to name only a few, Beastmasters have a good deal of damage going their way.  So, no issues there.

As far as being to outlast an opponent, mana problems aren’t that big for Beastmasters for PvP.  We put on AotV, our pet still does full damage.  So, we aren’t losing out that much when we need mana.

Which begs the question: which pets am I bringing? Well, I have a pack of 5 of them, but I’d only be bringing 3 into PvP situations: Radix, Jormungandr, and Fafnir.

How will they be talented? Well, find out in a later post! Don’t you all just love suspense?!

The build I have up for my talents is usable right now, actually.  If someone gives it a shot, I would love to hear your feedback.  You can find my e-mail under the “Contact me!” page at the top.

Well, until next time, good hunting.