Thursday, August 23, 2007

On Hunter Melee, Part 3 - PvP

I was going to talk about something else in this next post, but a comment I had on the last one deserved some thought, and a response...this was from Tom.

"I can't resist pointing out the one, minor and only sometimes useful counter-point I've run into.

That is in PvP against a more-squishee class. I've annoyed the hell out of a number of Rogues (and a caster Shammy or 2) simply by not freaking out when they come at me. I was BM at the time, but they really didn't care for me criting their face with a Raptor Stike+Wing Clip, maybe getting enough range to Arcane shot once then charging back at them (and I prefer Snake Trap to Immolate, poison to slow them down so I can get range).

That said, I'm not spending points in:
- Improved Wing Clip
- Deterence
- Readiness

Just because that's not useful 99% of the time PvE and it's only useful maybe 50% of the time in 1v1 PvP."

It's confession time again. (This could become a habit. ;))

When I said, "Thou shalt not melee," as Tom says, that was primarily in reference to PvE. For PvP however, the situation becomes a bit more murky.

In terms of world pvp, I personally have won more 1v1 fights as a Hunter (a lot more, actually) utilising melee-centric hybrid tactics (note that I am not saying melee only, here) than I have ranged, primarily because I developed a more thorough understanding of hybrid combat than ranged.

How do I define hybrid tactics? Let's use one of the Mages I've been able to kill with it as an example. If I see them in advance, and am able to approach undetected myself, I can then:-

1) Stay hidden if possible, and open with Aimed Shot. This will give you a good head start, damage wise.
2) Immediately after, hit them with Wyvern Sting. This immobilises them for up to 12 seconds if their trinket isn't up, and even if it is, still puts a 600 point DOT on them.
3) Close to melee range.
4) Wing Clip.
5) Drop an Immolation Trap. (With Wyvern Sting and points in Clever Traps, this means our Mage now has an overall 1.5k DoT, and that's before I've hit him once)
6) Bring pet for additional dps.
7) Activate Deterrence and Blood Fury.
8) Commence melee attacks with (ideally) 1.3-1.4 speed dual wielded daggers, periodically re-applying Wing Clip.
9) When Deterrence runs out, if I've specced Readiness, I have two options. I can hit Readiness and repeat steps 4-8 immediately, or, if they've done too much damage too me already, I can drop a frost trap, Wing Clip the target, jump out to range, activate Rapid Fire, and finish up with my rifle.

I've successfully done this in-game before; so I know that the strategy can work. However:-

1) The strategy is primarily good against casters. Very often the reason why you don't want to stay at range with them is because they need range themselves, so you're actually helping them kill you.

2) Trying it against Paladins will almost certainly get you killed.

3) Trying it against Shamans will also most likely get you killed, since it will expose you to Earthbind Totems. NEVER engage Shamans melee, as nearly all their abilities are melee focused, as are their totems; other than a single lightning shot they have no real ranged abilities at all.

4) Trying it against Marksmen Hunters will only work if you can stay close to them. If they hit you with Scatter and get back to range, either go to range yourself or prepare to be killed. As Survival, melee is actually our area of strength when dealing with a pure Marks Hunter, as he most likely will have greater burst damage at range. However, you will need to use Wing Clip at all times to keep him close, because if he gets back to range, the fight moves back to being on his terms.

5) If you've got higher agility and stamina, it will very often work against Rogues as long as they don't Vanish or CLoS.

6) It will work against Warriors more often than you might think, depending on a) how much health you have, and b) how well geared he is. It is also enormously psychologically painful for a Warrior to lose to us melee, for obvious reasons.

"NO!" I can hear my Marks brethren scream. "Why on Earth would you do such a thing, when you can stay safely at range?"

Because range ain't always completely safe either, guys. Range ain't going to save you from a Pyroblast to the face. Range gives Warlocks opportunities to cast Fear and/or Death Coil. So why do this?

1) It can be fast. (As in 8-12 seconds) I pounced on a 67 lock at 62 myself with the above strategy, and his health was at around 3% before he even knew what had hit him. He managed to Fear me right before dying, but I'd dotted him with Immo and Wyvern beforehand, so it didn't save him.

2) It comes across as totally crazy, in a semi-suicidal, Martin Riggs kind of way. Most people won't have seen Wyvern Sting in the wild. It also shatters the renowned "no Hunter melee" rule utterly to smithereens. The thought process of someone who is a victim to the above strategy, if also executed with enough speed, is likely to be,

"An insane and utterly uncharacteristic Hunter just hit me with a stun I've never seen before, leapt out of the bushes, snared me, dotted me up like a Warlock, and is now rapidly cutting me apart in the same manner as a Rogue. HELP ME!"

While they're thus busy feeling scared and unable to determine what to do next, you can be busy finishing them off.

3) For the above psychological reasons, it can at least be an effective gesture of defiance towards a class that you're fairly certain you're going to lose against anywayz, even at range. (Such as a Paladin)

So the overall answer to the question is:-

Melee is nearly always a bad idea for PvE, but for PvP can be highly effective on a situational basis, as long as you understand that it involves alternating between range and melee both, and not relying exclusively on melee. Realise that understanding when melee will help you, and when it will get you killed, is one of the primary fundamental challenges of effectively playing a Survival Hunter. In PvE, if either the main tank or your pet is alive, it's a no-no. In PvP, it's a gamble; sometimes it will pay off, others it won't. If you're...

1) Fighting low armor targets that you can keep locked down, (Casters, Rogues)
2) Fighting by necessity in close quarters where you can't get range,
3) Fighting by necessity in places where line of sight is a problem,

then melee is useful. The rest of the time, stay at range.

This animal is what I've now adopted for myself anyway as Survival's mascot. Remember the metaphor I made with him. During instances or pve, you will need to stay in the water (range) more or less exclusively; pvp is when you can sometimes benefit from taking a few steps onto the land. (melee)

The primary motto here is, "Match the weapon to the target." If your target seems to hold all the aces melee (which is far more common) then don't even think about it. Scatter, Conc Shot, or Wyvern, then jump in and drop a frost trap, then jump back and give them both barrels at range.

However, if your target is for example a Fire Mage, who needs range to buy the time to get off a Pyroblast, (which will very often one-shot us) then by all means, get in his face, lock him down with Wyvern, Wing Clip and a trap with Entrapment points, and cut him up fast.

This is what Survival is about; its' heart and soul. You don't use one strategy all the time; you develop the ability to identify which strategy is going to be optimal for the scenario at hand, and use it.

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