Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On Starting a Survival Hunter, Part 2

First of all, I've had some really positive feedback so far. Thanks a lot for that guys, and yes, I do plan to keep writing.

Warning:- This is a looooong post. I talk about a lot of things, about doing a lot of things, and the reasons why I've done said things. It might seem like a bit of a pain at first, but if you can put up with it, it'll give you insight into why I make the suggestions I do.

In part 1 I essentially advised against putting points in Survival straight from level 10, while saying that Survival is more appropriately a more high end spec.

So, with that said, how do I advocate starting out? The conventional wisdom among Hunters, AFAIK, is that Beast Mastery is overall the best 10-60 levelling spec. BM is a very viable option, particularly because with the first eight points, you're combining survivability (in terms of Endurance Training and Thick Hide) with BM's damage talents later on. If you want to go this path, you can get direction here either from BRK, or from Wolfstalker who has also written a tutorial on the subject.

However, for people who are interested in something a bit more experimental, I thought I'd also share another levelling spec. This doesn't have the same degree of (immediate) survivability, but instead focuses on damage straight out of the gate, whereas with the BM path, you don't get down to the actual damage talents until level 20. In terms of levelling, the extra crits are still making it fast, and I don't die with it excessively either.

To more fully explain my rationale for what I'm going to outline here, let me digress a bit. A bit ago, BRK mentioned a guy who stacked Stamina and made his health the main focus of his character; Grimhorn of Illidan server. (Who has also apparently since respecced/geared to something a lot more orthodox)

BRK mentioned that this guy had done that primarily to be unstoppable within Warsong Gulch. This is relevant because, back when I was a baby Hunter, (think 10-19 and/or 20-29) I was primarily dedicated to Warsong Gulch. I was absolutely fanatical about it; I'm Revered with the Warsong Outriders and got that way without meaning to, whereas my rep tab is basically a mess otherwise. For WSG, a survivability first perspective will take you far. It won't put you at the top of the chart in kills, but it will make you very successful when it comes to flagrunning and defense, which more than kills is what winning WSG is about anywayz. I was extremely defensively focused. Not only that, but as I mentioned in my melee hunter post, on the pve front, I was being asked to fill in as an offtank as well...so for a while I thought that worked.

Hence, my entire spec early on was based around three talents, pretty much:- Endurance Training in the BM tree, Survivalist in the Survival tree, and Improved Aspect of the Monkey, again in the BM tree. For a long time, that worked ok. Not always great, but ok. I also tended to do better in world pvp in particular than anyone expected. (Including me)

However, eventually it got to the point where doing negligible damage just wasn't much fun. As I levelled higher, I also started running into situations where my higher level of health didn't cut it; doing negligible damage was getting me killed. It might take longer than other people, but I was still dying.

This taught me the truth of the proverb, at least where WoW is concerned; that the best defense really is a good offense. I'm now going to stop yammering and move on to the actual spec itself, however the reason why I devote so much time to explanation is because I myself am someone who can't usually be told anything; if I'm going to do something, I have to have a very thorough understanding of the logic behind it first. I've now got many of these talents with my main, and although this isn't how I originally started, it's what I've respecced to, as well as being actually how I now believe I should have started, and I'm also in the process of putting together an alt where I have done this right from scratch. I also have respecced pure Marks before, so I'm not advocating that anyone use talents that I haven't used myself.

In terms of pet, up until around 30 I suggest a cat or a raptor. You'll level faster due to the additional damage, and you also won't come up against anything sufficiently nasty that their lack of tanking ability is a serious problem, if you pre-plan your fights and pull carefully. At 29-30, you can get a Rotting Ama'gar from Razorfen Krawl, and I strongly recommend doing so. Charge is indispensable both in pve and pvp, and the boar's ability to tank multiple adds will also save your life. I've still got mine, and will be keeping him for life.

The other reason why you need Charge is for the initial aggro generation; if you get the Omen threat meter addon, let your boar charge first and watch how much initial aggro it generates. If you allow the boar to generate a good amount of aggro before opening fire yourself, you will be able to do a lot of damage to a target (including crits) before needing to feign. Because Survival's ranged damage is crit based, that's important.

In terms of starting professions, Mining and Skinning. Mining is the only profession I know of where you can earn literal gold from level 6; the index price of copper bars is 1g per stack of 20, tho I find they sell faster at 95s. Thunder Ridge in Durotar is one of the best areas for copper mining I know of. I've seen 70s there, camping the vein spawns...it's good, easy money regardless of the level.

Light leather also goes for around 30s per stack of 20, and a good Wailing Caverns run will get you prolly three stacks. Because Survival is a lot more gear based than the other two trees, how to make serious bling is something you're going to want to know about. On that score, I also recommend picking up Enchanting up to prolly 130 at around level 45-50 or so, because at that point you'll be able to farm Herod and the SM Cathedral and disenchant the blue boss drops, for Small Radiant Shards which sell for about 6g apiece.

Also before we begin, note that Agility, Stamina, and Attack Power are going to be your three main attributes to look for here, with a slightly higher preference going to Agility. Go with "of the Monkey" items exclusively; either from the Auction House or from instance drops if you can find them.

Once you get to Outland, look for "of the Bandit," stuff, but you don't want to use that exclusively either. If you can get 3-4 pieces of Bandit gear for a decent amount of base rap, do whatever you feel with the rest, (in terms of blues etc) as long as they're focused on Agility, +hit, and +crit primarily. You can use knothide to boost your Stam a bit, although being a glass cannon to some extent won't hurt you as much as I used to think it would.

Don't bother with gear that has caster stats early on, as it will merely waste space you want for Agility. (Spi, Int) Yes, Marks' mana efficiency (or lack of) is truly horrible, and the Efficiency talent doesn't help enough for me anywayz to choose it over IHM...however that won't hurt you much at all, early on. My own Int was white till around 64, and it didn't really start bothering me until then. Later on in Surv you'll be able to get Thrill of the Hunt, which gives you 40% of the cost back of any mana shot that crits, as well as Resourcefulness which gives you a 60% discount on the mana cost of melee skills and traps, and these two things really help. Also later you'll find stuff that gives you Ag, Stam, and Int...but that won't happen for a while.

Anyway, for the first five talent points, from 10-15, I advocate putting them in Lethal Shots, in the Marks tree. 15-17, I'm going to use the only 2 early game points I'll be putting into Survival, and get Savage Strikes. So with this, by level 16, you've already got an extra 5% crit chance for ranged damage, and an extra 20% crit chance for Raptor Strike. No, I'm not advocating being melee more than 5-7% of the time, tops...but especially before you get feign death, there are going to be times when melee happens. If melee can at all be avoided, you generally want to avoid it; but this way, for those scenarios when it can't, you'll still hit hard.

From level 16-21, I'm putting 5 points in Improved Hunter's Mark, in the Marks tree. This will give the full ap bonus of Hunter's Mark to your pet while you're soloing, and to other people in your group when you're not.

From 21-23, I'm putting 2 points in Go for the Throat. This gives your pet back 50 Focus when you crit, so if you get a spell like Gore or Claw for your pet, it can use that 50 Focus for these spells. It can also use it sometimes for an extra Growl in order to perhaps hold aggro, as well.

From 23-24, I'm putting 1 point in Aimed Shot. Once you get Steady Shot at 62, you won't have much use for this spell any more, but you can still use it before then, probably primarily in PvP. For my purposes here though, I mainly suggest it as the prerequisite for Mortal Shots. From 24-26, put 2 points in Rapid Killing as the last prerequisite for Mortal Shots, and also to get Rapid Fire back faster.

From 26-31, put 5 points in Mortal Shots. You've now got your full 30% crit damage bonus, and the shorter cooldown for Rapid Fire, just in time for the Scarlet Monastery. Go kick Herod's ass, and enjoy the blue +crit helm he drops when you're able to wear mail at 40, at least for a few levels.

After level 31, there are a number of options. Probably what I'd recommend would be to stay with Marks until you get a minimum of 400 (or even 500 if you can wait that long) Agility, which is the amount you'll need before starting to get any benefit out of Expose Weakness. However, if you're impatient, and want your traps and the extra crit from Killer Instinct early, that can also work...but realise that you won't do as much damage while you're waiting for your agility, as if you'd stayed with Marks.

20 point Marks at level 31.

Marks at 60, just prior to respec.

Marks/Surv respec at 60. (Probably the earliest you'll be able to break 400 agility. Note the inclusion of Scatter Shot, invaluable in PvP)

My intended Survival spec at 70. Includes EW for the raid/party buff, Wyvern Sting to allow 3 mob CC pulls, Thrill of the Hunt for ranged mana efficiency, and Resourcefulness for mana efficiency while trapping.


Jesse said...

Nice 70 spec, but I recommend trying Readiness. I have been experimenting with skipping Hawk Eye and Resourcefulness. I have a decent amount of Intelligence, and although having that extra range is nice other things are nicer for me.

Brandstone (Burning Legion)

Jesse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesse said...

Damn armory is not up to date:
Level 68

Mirshalak said...

Nice 70 spec, but I recommend trying Readiness.

Readiness can be good; the downside is having to get Master Tac, which is only really worth it proc wise if you've got a faster weapon than what I anywayz normally want as far as shot rotation is concerned. Resourcefulness is also very skippable if you're not doing heavy trapping. Same with Hawk Eye...the only real reason why I get that is because you need ten points in the first two levels to get the third, and I find it a bit more useful than monster slaying myself...but that's very much an opinion thing.

Tom said...

I'm new to Survival spec, but at least for Raiding (and much much more so for) and Instancing needing to do CC. And after a bit I've gotten the hang of it (under BM spec). I'm really looking forward to respeccing again (now that I've got more of an idea what I can get out of the tree) and not needing to throw on a 2nd piece of Dungeon Set 3 when I have to (happily!) trap for Moroes or being instance CC.

Jesse said...

Good point. My cache of gold isn't going to like it, but time to respec some more.

Mirshalak said...

Welcome, Tom! :)
As well as the trap talents, be sure to check out Wyvern Sting as well. If you get that, in order to learn more about CC, try soloing the early trash mobs in BRD.

They're there in groups of three. If you drop a freeze trap, target the middle mob with Wyvern Sting, and set your pet on the third after the second is frozen, you can quickly kill the third mob, retrap the second after the freeze wears off, and quickly kill the first with the aid of Wyvern's DOT.

Tom said...

Thanks for the welcome.

Sadly, I didn't really learn about doing instances right until 70 and my CC learning was on the fly by fire and whatnot. The upside is a really know where I can (and cannot) CC. Shattered Halls just can't be Hunter-CC'd in some places (the mobs will enrage or whatever their way out of the trap). But, Wyvern sting is a nice instant CC (and I haven't done SH since I've become Survival). In Mech on the run to the last boss it's really nice to do something like mage CC one mob, sting sleep one and freeze trap a 3rd. Still working on pulling that off reliably :)

Mirshalak said...

In Mech on the run to the last boss it's really nice to do something like mage CC one mob, sting sleep one and freeze trap a 3rd. Still working on pulling that off reliably :)

The single main problem I find with that is controlling your aggro so that the other two CCed mobs don't both irremovably swarm you when it wears off, especially when soloing. As well as feigning, you might also want to try a slightly lower powered weapon or rotation than what you customarily use when you know you're going to be doing that, in order to keep your aggro under control.