Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reply to Kruger - A good Surv spec for Heroics?

Hey Kruger,
In terms of a good 51 point Survival DPS spec for Heroics, this spec is what I found on Elitist Jerks. Apparently it has been used to reach just under 4k DPS on Patchwerk in Naxxramas. I am assuming that that had plenty of Volley use, however.

As far as rotation is concerned, from memory Draculea recommended Serpent, ES, Steady, Steady, Steady if you're haste capped. If you're not, I'm not entirely sure; I use a tighter version of the old 1:1.5, and just hug the GCD in terms of the number of Steadies I can put out, but I've never had more than around 1.4k DPS with that rotation.

Trap dancing and keeping Serpent up can maintain Lock and Load pretty much all the time, so Explosive is more or less the only thing I use if using that strategy with 51+ point Surv, but the DPS with that is even lower; on the order of 1.2k.

If I want DPS in Heroics at the moment, I use this spec, and primarily spam Volley. Doing that, I've had just over 2k DPS in the Heroic Culling of Stratholme before, and that is the spec which I primarily recommend before the patch. Post patch however, 51 point Survival will be the way to go, especially considering the Steady Shot nerf.

In terms of Glyphs, I recommend Immolation Trap, Steady Shot, Serpent Sting, and Feign Death in particular. For pets, my cat does fine, but tends to die a lot in Heroics. You might want a Scorpid for the 10% extra Stamina.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is Surv pure DPS? - Reply to Santyn

Hey Santyn,
I'm glad you decided to hang around. Believe me when I say that I know I can get unbelievably obnoxious at times; I've often wondered how it is that Pike has had the patience and understanding to continue reading me at times, as well. BRK also completely, silently disowned me a while back; he commented on my first entry, but then I never heard from him again, after that. He has periodic roll calls where he goes through the blogs he reads; I've never been mentioned in one of them.

It is a shame, because I learned pretty much everything I know about the class early on from his material. He is an exceptionally knowledgeable and intelligent Hunter, and I still admire him. Although he uses Beast Mastery himself, those who do so with intelligence, as Pike understands, have never been the target of my hostility.

Anyway, to reply to your assertion that Survival is as much about pure DPS as the other two trees. Although I wouldn't have always, at this point in the game, I do agree with you. Deterrence is gone, and our ability to gain %dodge from Agility is mostly gone with it. Hence, our mitigation has almost entirely gone with it.

I've been able to adapt to some extent, mainly by simply putting more points in Marks most of the time, but I grieve when I think of old timers like Mynithrosil, who actually played the offtank/healer bodyguard role a lot more intensely than I did, most of the time. The interesting thing is, he didn't just do it in 5 mans either, but also apparently did it in Sunwell. I on the other hand, always had the attitude that in raids, Surv was still DPS, but he found a way to make our smaller scale, defensive role work in a raid as well during TBC.

I have memories of a few occasions though when myself and a cloth wearer stood back to back and prevented a total wipe, and then I was able to use cables, or the cloth wearer was a Priest, a la this post. I miss those days, quite intensely at times, but I don't deceive myself. As much as I might miss them, they are gone, and most likely forever at this point.

Blizzard seem to want to make Survival our Arena tree at this point, which means that most of our primary old school talents are unlikely to make it through WoTLK intact, unfortunately. I've never been a fan of the Arena, and feel that it has done a lot of sociological damage to this game in other ways, so that does not make me very happy. I originally made this character primarily for PvP, but the old kind; battlegrounds, and fending off a Rogue who jumped on me out in Felwood or Desolace while levelling.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Got the Drake crossbow

Did another run of Heroic Utgarde Keep this morning, and got my crossbow.

I also had some more feedback from the forums earlier, which led me to try conducting the following experiment.

I went to the Beast Mastery Bible on Elitist Jerks and followed their instructions. I got the 50/21/0 spec, stayed with my cat rather than a Scorpid after being told that Scorpid Poison was only good for long fights, respecced my pet for Call of the Wild, got some more Agility consumables, and then got and used this macro:-

#showtooltip Bestial Wrath
/script UIErrorsFrame:UnregisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE");
/cast Kill Shot
/cast Bestial Wrath
/cast [target=pettarget, exists] Scorpid Poison
/use Scarab of Isanoth
/cast Blood Fury
/cast Kill Command
/cast Steady Shot

The result, in H UK, was 1.5k single target DPS; 100 more than single target with this spec, but 500 less than what I got with that spec and almost pure use of Volley in Heroic CoS. Yes, this damage is bad, or so people claim, but my gear is still bad atm as well, I admit.

I'm going to stick with this for a couple of days, (mainly to test the difference with a Scorpid) and then probably go back to the above hybrid until the patch comes; this was merely to demonstrate a couple of things to myself.

a) That I'm not totally useless when it comes to using BM. I wouldn't want to use this for questing myself, but it is not entirely unenjoyable in an instance. If I keep Viper up between fights, mana efficiency is very good, and it was a good test to try and get used to keeping Mend Pet up constantly and keep track of my pet more, as well.

b) That the DPS difference is nowhere near as large as what many people claim. I was using BW every cooldown, and Readiness on longer fights as well, and even with that, my trinket, and Blood Fury built into the cooldown, the difference was, as I said, around 125 DPS between this spec and the Marks/Surv hybrid.

Where BM produces the massive results seen in raids, is due to the ability to stack Call of the Wild multiple times, with multiple Hunters using it in synch; it is a multiplicative, synergistic effect, and was apparently also unintended.

c) That I am not as inflexible, or as ignorant, as most people on the Hunter forum seem to insist on thinking. I can use BM; I've had top damage with both it, Surv, and my usual Marks/Surv hybrid in both battlegrounds and five mans before. So I reject the assertion that I am ignorant or that I don't know how to use the tree.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Why Explosive Shot needs the buff

I just did another Heroic CoS run, this time as 51 point Surv. From 2k DPS the other night, my damage in this last run fell to just under 1200; a drop of more than 800 DPS.

However, here's the reason why. In that run where I got 2k, I was using virtually nothing other than Volley. At the moment, if you're not Beast Mastery, your damage is pretty much entirely based on either Chimera or Volley.

In this run where I got around 1190 DPS, I trap danced, kept Serpent up, and was getting Lock and Load procs pretty much all the time; so if I wanted to use ES, I literally didn't have time for Volley, and even if I did use Volley, my damage from it was down radically due to no longer having Barrage or TSA anyway. ES, however, in its' current form, is just too weak.

ES' coefficient being raised to 18% is not going to make Survival overpowered. It will make us competitive, and in terms of raw, direct damage, it will be literally the first time in this game's history when we will be.

During TBC, Expose Weakness was advocated as the reason for taking a Survival Hunter, but it raised everyone else's damage, which meant that a lot of the time, we were still behind. The reason why we need that 18%, is because aside from traps and Serpent, which everyone else laughs at, that 18% is almost all we have. We don't have BM's speed, or Marks' RAP bonuses. LR and EW alone don't go anywhere near far enough to make us competitive with other people's damage, and truthfully they never have.

The other point is, Survival isn't a stationary tree; stand and fire largely without moving might be the BM or Marks playstyle, but it isn't Surv's. We need an ability which synergises with what we do; kiting.

It's been nearly four years, but I've had a funny feeling for a while now that WoTLK was going to be the expack where we would finally see Survival's true ascension. Assuming the ES buff survives the PTR, in pure damage terms, Survival's mobile playstyle is about to become irrefutably viable for the very first time.

I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays to everyone :)

Whatever you celebrate, I hope you enjoy it. New Year's Eve is traditionally my own primary festive observance of the year; this is because I have observed that it is a period of a single day (or night) during which people are able to treat each other in a manner which, hopefully at some point, we will eventually start to permanently.

I was also going to link to a piece of music which I always listen to at this time of year, and which has become very special to me; a particular Scottish backpipe rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

Although I haven't been to Scotland, there is a particular mental image I have, while listening to this piece.

I'm standing on rough, thick green grass, on a high cliff overlooking a freezing, restless sea. It's fairly dark, but dawn has just begun; light enough for me to be able to make out some details, and also to see the first faint traces of the northern Sun on the horizon. There is a large flame burning in a steel brazier to my left, and in front of me is a group of around a dozen kilted pipers, assembled in a diamond formation.

The flame does little to dispel the biting cold from the wind, which bypasses me skin and even seeps into my bones. I do not recoil from it however, or find it uncomfortable; I love it. The wind makes an odd wailing sound, which is echoed by the constant undertone to the music, provided by some of the pipes.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A couple of good Heroics

Went to both H: The Culling of Stratholme, and H: The Nexus last night. Got what I felt were some very good results, as well.

Just a hair over 2k DPS. Given that I'm still in a mix of blues and quest greens, I don't feel that that is too bad.

By the end of the Nexus run, I'd dropped down to 1.3-1.4k, but earlier peaked at around 1.7k, and per-fight damage was recorded by someone else as being just under 1k while kiting Keristrasza.

I got some nice drops, as well. The Dragon Slayer's Sabatons from Keri, and the Spaulders of the Careless Thief from Grand Magus Telestra, which was a tough fight.

My next goal is the Drake-Mounted Crossbow from Heroic Utgarde Keep, and I'm also currently wearing the Argent Crusade tabard in order to get a Polished Regimental Hauberk.

I do not recommend my current talent spec to other people, however. As well as being extremely dependent on buffs and consumables, its' mana efficiency is absolutely terrible; I chug pots like a madman. I am using it because a dual EW/TSA spec is something I've been wanting to try for a very long time; since pre-3.0, in fact.

Although the total amount of RAP I get from it is genuinely wonderful, the Steady Shot nerf post-patch will also sadly mean that it will be truly non-viable then as well, at which point I will be going back to 51 point Surv.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ding 80...and mixed emotions.

So at around 5:50 AM today, Eastern Standard Time, I hit 80. I'd been pushing as hard as I could for it over the last couple of days; I want to hopefully do Naxxramas before it becomes badge run territory. Although I know I've been a lot slower than everyone else I know, it feels good to have finally made it.

And yet...

It took me nearly 18 months to reach 70, all told. Mirsh is still my only 70+ toon; my second highest is my old main, a Mage, who I only recently got to level 40. I still remember the day I hit 70, as well; I came close to finishing in Nagrand, before moving out and doing some very painful last quests in SMV. I loved questing while I was levelling for the most part, but those SMV quests were terrible.

On that day I can remember commenting in General that it felt like the game was over, and I didn't like that at all. I love playing this character; both in-game, here, and on the forums...she's an alterego for me, now. Someone else answered me in General back then though, assuring me that it never really ends; that there's raiding, and end game PvP, and lots of other goes on.

I think I can honestly say that I'm mentally ready for the raid game now, as well. When someone in gchat a few minutes ago said congratulations, I answered him that the reason why I'd wanted to get to 80 is because World of Warcraft isn't a solitary experience for me any more; and I don't want it to be, now. I either group with people, in terms of Heroics, or soon, raids, or I find that I lose the motivation to stop playing.

Ippon used to say to me that I had snowflake syndrome, and that I wasn't willing to do what was necessary to conform at least to some degree, and fit in, in a social environment. At the time, he was right, and although that was painful, it was feedback that I needed to hear. Although I haven't stuck with it permanently, trusting my instincts that eventually Survival would be a good choice for raiding in WoTLK, the amount which I've tried to adapt to Beast Mastery in recent months tells me that I am now willing to adopt an appropriate level of mental flexibility. I will still be myself and retain my own identity, but I think I'm a lot more open now to listening to people when they tell me to try alternatives that might be good for me.

I wasn't ready during TBC. All through that expansion, I still wanted to go off on my own, and do the quests in Nagrand or Zangarmarsh, or simply some solitary air farming in SMV. As Illidan said, "You are not prepared!" I wasn't.

Now, however, I genuinely do want to take this game to the next level. This isn't unexplored territory for some people, or maybe even most...but it is for me. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another couple of instances

My apologies for no updates for a while. Real life has been a little more active for me lately, so not as much time for WoW. However, ding 79, and I managed to do two instance runs earlier as well.

This image is from the second Gundrak run. 1.4k DPS, farming spec, and I haven't even started to gear up, yet. When I do, I'm coming for you, Patchwerk! ;-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Finally got Hemet's Trophy Gun this morning, and have started on the earliest Icecrown quests. I also managed to snag a pair of Swiftarrow Leggings from the AH, which will possibly help move things along a little more quickly.

I've resolved that I'm not going to blow all my money on gear this time like I did in TBC; I really want an epic flyer this xpack, but still only have around 1k on my bank alt atm, even though I've got Cold Weather Flying now as then again, maybe I'm not doing too badly.

Orcish hugs and kisses also to Sumdumbracist, and my other current comments groupies, as well. ;-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My dream for our class

In reply to this thread on the forum, I wrote the following:-

Now, hopefully, if Blizzard repair the damage they've done to Steady Shot as well, we will finally see a bit more genuine diversity among talent trees.

I want to see thriving miniature communities based around Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and Survival; all three trees.

I want to see Hunters from all three trees be able to walk into a raid or instance together with a totally equal level of respect and civility towards each other.

Finally, I want to see Hunters choosing their talent tree based on what they as individuals truly love, and on what reflects their individual psychology and desired playstyle...not purely on everyone speccing in exactly the same way because a single spec has been discovered to put out 5% more.


I will never forget one particular instance run I did, which I'm pretty sure was at around level 55. I four manned BRD late one night as Survival, with a Marks Hunter, a BM Hunter, and a Warlock. We got almost all the way to the entrance of Molten Core, and aside from wiping once, we needed no healer.

The synergy between all three trees in this class, when natives of all three trees are present in a group, can be a beautiful thing to watch. I have only seen it a few times during my time playing this game. It needs to be seen much, much more often.

The obsession with the damage meter truly needs to end and be done away with; we as a class, and as natives of individual talent trees, are held back by it. By collaborating and co-operating with each other, instead of seeing every loss to someone else as being our own gain, and seeking enlargement of the epeen, we could become so much more.

Beast Mastery chewing through casters, Marks providing high burst to get through the armor of melee mobs, and Survival pulling, trapping, and helping to keep everyone's mana topped off. If you're willing sometime, get a tank and a healer, and do a Heroic with yourself and a Hunter of each of the other two trees.

Even though most of our WoW experience, like most of the rest of our lives, blurs into a haze of generic forgetfulness, if, like me, you love the Hunter class, then I promise you that it will be an experience you will never forget.

We're being nerfed

We just had this thread started by Ghostcrawler, (a Blizzard developer) where he announced some changes.

There is, of course, already talk of respeccing. As I said in that thread, Survival ended up with Marksmanship's proverbial poor, tired, and huddled masses during The Burning Crusade, as well.

It's genuinely ironic how much things with Surv within WoW echo people's attitudes towards Survivalism as a real world ideology, at times.

When times are good, the attitude is very different in the forum. Then when the nerf bat hits; metaphorically in WoW terms, the proverbial TEOTWAWKI scenario; guess where all the cool kids go? ;-)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Hunter forum: Why it really angers me

I've just realised the single main reason why the official Hunter forum makes me so angry.

It isn't actually the utterances of, "lolsurvival," which are directed at me. I'm used to that stuff. I might not like it, but I can take it.

What really upsets me, however, is the attitude that is expressed towards newcomers who are trying to learn about Surv. Every single time a new Hunter posts a question asking what Survival is for, it is immediately deluged with vitriolic trolling about how useless the tree supposedly is.

Witness the fetid cesspool that this particular thread degenerated into, for example. Same scenario; a new Hunter asks what Surv is for, and immediately the trolls materialise.

I'm starting to think that the BM raiders who inhabit the forum are honestly afraid of anyone using Survival. I will never forget one particular thread where a newbie was asking questions, when the BM poster after me told the OP never to have anything to do with Survival whatsoever...and the tone of his writing was genuinely frantic.

I wish I understood what they feel so threatened by.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Surv mindset

This is something I found buried in the archives of the Hunter forum yesterday. It's written by Yurch of Anatheron, a man who has mentioned being a real life Survivalist, in addition to playing a Survival Hunter in WoW.

As opposed to just playing with Surv as a talent tree, if you want a window into the underlying mentality, this thread is something I'd suggest reading. It's intended as humour, but as Shakespeare said, comedy is usually the container of the greatest truth.

Master Nesingwary, I presume

Ding 77, and I finally arrived at Nesingwary Base Camp this morning, in Sholazar. The preliminary quests were a little tedious, but then there was the Great Hunter Challenge! For most of you, winning that might not be much of a challenge; but here's another challenge I'll set for anyone who hasn't done it yet. Do it from start to finish, (60 mobs) without having to drink once.

I did, and not only that, I was still at 23% mana when I'd finished. I could be wrong here, (I really sucked at mathematics at school) but I think that works out at an average of 1.28% mana per mob. Of course, I was also getting Replenishment ticks as well at times. Still, even with that, my mana usage was utterly minimal.

So how did I do that, you ask? There are a couple of things I rely on.
  • The first thing is the pet ability, Charge. Charge is available for both Ferocity and Tenacity pets, and assuming you're not using a Gorilla, or actually, even if you are, there's really no reason at all not to have it, since it still offers the 1 second stun, +25% melee attack power on next attack, and is faster than Dash, too.

    The single main reason why it's important for me though, is because of what it allows for mob positioning. I'm talking the ability to make a mob stop on a proverbial 5c piece. (A nickel I think, for my American readers) This is good because it means I can pull from a very short distance away from a target, and still not have them touch me. I'll explain why that sometimes happens in a moment.

  • This particular piece of magic - Crude Throwing Axe. Remember BRK's low threat pull shot trick, Rank 1 Arcane Shot? I do, and I loved it. Unfortunately however, with the end of downranking, we can no longer do that. The Crude Throwing Axe is our salvation. It does roughly the same amount of damage as Rank 1 Arcane did. The only downside is that Thrown unfortunately doesn't benefit from Hawk Eye, so its' range is only 30 yards.

    The fun part about using Thrown is that it almost involves a certain amount of actual stalking, since getting an axe on a moving target while still allowing yourself some margin of range between yourself, the mob, and the trap can be a bit fiddly. I sometimes had to wait a few seconds for a mob to stop at exactly the right point, (30 yards from me, with the trap set at 15, dead centre between the mob and max range) before throwing.

So, the sequence/rotation:-
  1. Using RangeDisplay, measure 15 yards from your intended target, and drop Snake Trap. Remember, we want Snake because of Crippling Poison. If you're not able to get enough range in time, this will give you more of a margin for error, without letting the mob touch you.

  2. Move back out to 30 yards, and throw a Crude Throwing Axe.

  3. Backpedal constantly as the mob comes towards you. Send your pet the moment the mob hits the trap, and Charge will stop it at that exact position. This is important because the distance between you at that point will probably only be around 10 yards.

  4. Once you've sent the pet, side strafe back out to 25-30 yards.

  5. Face forward again at that range, fire Serpent, and then use a Lock and Load proc with Explosive Shot. Fire Explosive, then wait one second for the DoT to finish working, and then fire it again. Once the second Explosive DoT has finished, the mob should be dead.

For a per-mob comparison with Beast Mastery, also:-
  • 1x Hunter's Mark = 3% base mana.

  • 1x Serpent Sting = 9% base mana. (Assuming Steady Glyph)

  • 4x (5% each) Steady Shot = 20% base mana. (conservative estimate; assumes manual timing. For macro spammers, 5-7 steadies would probably be more realistic)

  • Total = 32% base mana.

    This is consistent with my own experience with BM, where I was having to drink every 3-4 mobs. This also includes the conservative four steady estimate. That number would be 37% of base mana with five. Use of Bestial Wrath on kills when it is up would push this up to 47% of base mana, or almost half the Hunter's total mana pool for a single mob. This is approaching a degree of mana inefficiency more commonly observed with the Mage, (in the neighbourhood of 60% per kill in some cases) rather than the Hunter.
For Survival:-
  • 1x Hunter's Mark = 3% of base mana.

  • 1x Serpent Sting = 9% of base mana. With Improved Stings, on a mob with 10k health, Serpent will account for 20% of overall damage, or roughly 2k. This maintains a damage to mana ratio of slightly over 2:1.

  • 1x Snake Trap = 9% of base mana.

  • Total = 21% base mana. (Explosive is used twice, but is free in mana terms due to Lock and Load)

    Although I don't have 5/5 Hunting Party at the moment, for the sake of argument, in order to make things easier, I will assume that I do. Even with an assumption of a single crit per kill (conservative to the point of unrealism) Hunting Party thus gives us 3.75% mana back total. (0.25% mana per sec for 15 sec)

Our adjusted total per kill mana cost for Survival while farming/questing assuming the above sequence, then, is 21 - 3.75 = 17.25%. This also does not take passive mp5 regeneration into account, either.

The downside here, however, is speed, or a lack thereof. With probably a good 5 seconds spent on initial setup prior to the trap going off, and another 10-12 seconds after the trap goes off, I'm looking at around 17 seconds per kill.

On the other hand, given that I could expect to be drinking for probably 10 seconds after every third kill with Beast Mastery, (which I don't experience with Surv) in actuality, it probably works out about even.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back in my old battlegroup

I wasn't able to play WoW nearly all of today, since the weather is hot here at the moment, and my video card is temperamental at the best of times.

When I finally got in about an hour ago though, having become bored of levelling, I decided to hit AB and keep working towards my Conqueror title. Apparently it's the AB weekend, as well, which is good for honour.

It turns out that Saurfang is in my old battlegroup, Vengeance, which also contains the server I initially levelled this character on; Jubei'Thos. I wasn't really sorry to leave Jubei, but I do remember having some good fun in Vengeance. Truthfully, Bloodlust was a little too intense, I will admit. It's nice to be able to kick back and not have to work quite so hard once in a while, but still manage to light up the board anywayz.

This was a good match, which also included a particularly satisfying 1v1 victory against a Beast Mastery Hunter with a Devilsaur. I was also actually using my current levelling spec; 0/16/51. Explosive Shot is a truly beautiful thing. ;-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ding 76

Finally made it to level 76; going slowly, but steadily. If I keep pushing at it, I might hopefully hit 80 by the weekend. I'm enjoying Zul'Drak; laid back kill quests with not as much running around as the Grizzly Hills. It's good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Added Gaming Diva to my blogroll

Another blog which I should have added some time ago now, as I have been aware of its' existence for a while:- Gaming Diva.

Also, I am in agreement with a statement in her latest post, that Orcish women can indeed be very beautiful. My first character in this game was a male Forsaken Mage.

After a while I became a leader of a levelling guild, which before a coup and disintegration, had close to 100 people at one point. Because of this, I felt perhaps it would be good to have a character who was more physically striking; and on visiting Orgrimmar on a few occasions with my Mage and witnessing some of the female guards walking around, my reaction was the same as that had by Jim Gordon in Batman Begins, on seeing the Tumbler.

"I've gotta get me one of those." ;-)

An Open Letter to the Hunter Community

I was prompted to write this after getting onto the forum after maintenance began a little while ago, and discovering this thread. This message is not directed at the resident readership of this blog, who have been extremely positive and supportive of me, and for that I thank you.

However, to a large extent, Survival Hunters have been consistently persecuted by our peers for as long as this game has existed, and during The Burning Crusade, Rilgon and other Marksmanship players became targets of this, as well. It is time for this sort of toxicity to cease, once and for all, and I ask every Hunter with a blog who is willing, to join me and repost this letter on your own site. Together we need to ensure that nobody who plays a Hunter is viciously trashed purely for their choice of talent tree, ever again.

I've been seeing a lot of threads on the official Hunter forum recently about how terrible Survival supposedly is, and about how if someone isn't using Beast Mastery, they literally shouldn't be playing a Hunter at all. While this sort of attitude has been prevalent more or less since the release of the Burning Crusade, over the last week or so it has become persistent and savage to the point of being intolerable.

A friend of mine only just recently told me about a WWS log where a Hunter managed to hit 7.5k in Naxx 10 with Beast Mastery, so I acknowledge that it is true that, empirically speaking, Beast Mastery is capable of much higher raw damage output.

However, what needs to stop is the elitist vitriol, and the belittling of people who use Survival, and who do so because they enjoy doing so. There are several points here that I need to make.

The first is that nobody, at this point, is chasing world first kills. They've all been done. Hence, in Nihilum's eyes, the most Godlike BM Hunter in the game would be late to the party at this point, in pure epeen terms.

The second is that given both the first point, and the degree of homogenisation which Blizzard has introduced into raiding, (specifically to counter exactly this kind of elitist unpleasantness, I might add) you also can't legitimately use the familiar argument that Survival's DPS will be an impediment to progression. Survival is, and I will openly acknowledge this, currently producing the lowest raw damage output of any of the three Hunter talent trees. However, while acknowledging this, I refuse to believe that the tree's damage output is sufficiently poor to make it truly unusable for progression, and will seek confirmation of this from Blizzard if it proves to be necessary.

I was told on the forum a few days ago that 3,000 DPS was a minimum requirement for killing Patchwerk, one of the bosses within Naxxramas. As of level 75 with a Marks/Survival hybrid spec, in mostly Season 2 Arena gear from The Burning Crusade, I managed half that, 1,500 DPS, in Drak'Tharon Keep earlier today, while also topping the damage meter in my current 5 man group. This was also the fifth time I have been to a 5 man instance in Northrend so far, and I have come first in damage with something very close to the same spec, every single time. I managed to hit 1,200 DPS with 0/12/52 at level 74 in Ahn'Kahet, as well.

Given this, I am entirely confident that I will be able to hit the pre-requisite 3,000 DPS with a Marks/Surv hybrid at 80, assuming I get the appropriate gear upgrades.

My third point is that anyone engaging in the above mentioned vitriol is unable to legitimately claim that they are doing so for the purposes of educating others. I attempted to respec Beast Mastery myself yesterday, yet of all the people who are currently engaging in this kind of abuse of Survival Hunters, there was only a single person on the forum who was willing to give me spec advice. Thus, the people hurling abuse at those playing Survival Hunters have demonstrated that they are not doing it for the purposes of educating others, improving the state of play among Hunters, or anything else constructive.

It is purely and simply a case of insecure individuals who apparently have a desperate need to use any excuse they can find to feel superior to their fellow players, and taking advantage of online anonymity to treat others in an unconscionable way, without needing to accept accountability for it.

If you want to be able to legitimately claim that you engage in such abuse of people for the purposes of education, then actually educate. Link to specs from the wowhead talent calculator, offer links to theorycraft, and otherwise demonstrate that you are willing to truly follow through with providing legitimate information. If anyone knows which build the above mentioned Hunter who was able to obtain 7,500 DPS was using, please let me know, as I *am* very interested in using it and attempting to obtain similar results myself.

Stating the empirical truth, on its' own, that Beast Mastery as a talent tree is capable of producing a higher degree of damage output than the other two Hunter trees, is legitimate and acceptable. Engaging in snide, vicious, dismissive, elitist abuse of other Hunters who use either of the other two talent trees for their own pleasure in World of Warcraft is not, and it needs to stop.

Regardless of which talent tree we use, as Hunters, we need to cease abusing each other over our choice of tree once and for all. We have traditionally received more than enough abuse and ostracision from the rest of this game's playerbase as it is.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ding 75, and an angry rant

Just hit 75 earlier today. I would have been higher, but I hadn't really played WoW at all for most of the weekend. I'm finding it important to fit other things into my life as well; I'm starting a herb garden in the back of my house, and want to possibly do courses in astrology and herbalism at some point in the New Year.

In other news, after being subjected to some particularly caustic abuse from the usual elitists on the forum last night, I'm ashamed to admit that today I succumbed to the pressure temporarily, and attempted two different builds based around Beast Mastery. For levelling anyway, both were an unmitigated disaster. I tamed a Devilsaur from Un'Goro Crater, used my boar, and also my cat. My cat worked best out of the three, but none of them could hold threat. I also found mana efficiency to be terrible compared to what I'm used to, I will admit; and my damage wasn't really up all that much, either. I averaged around 640 DPS, but if I really go frantically with it, that is less than 40 DPS higher than what I'm able to get with Surv, while trapping, no less.

I'm going to apologise in advance to Pike and any other users of Beast Mastery who customarily read this blog, (as well as asking you to remember that it won't be directed at you specifically at all) but I can feel myself building up to going on a major rampage in the forum over the next couple of days. I'm extremely angry. I'm tired of the amount of negative stigma I'm seeing directed at Survival lately; the cry of "lolsurvival," seems to almost be as common as "lolret," these days. The other thing that upsets me about it more than anything else, is how baseless it is. The very elitist who savaged me on the forum last night, admitted that the difference between BM and Surv in damage terms is around 15%; that isn't exactly what I'd call huge...certainly not large enough to justify the level of vitriol I've been experiencing lately.

These same idiots also cry about how even during levelling, their pets are unable to hold threat; if I use nothing but Lock and Load procs, a trap, and Serpent, I usually won't pull threat until a mob has only around 10% health left, and by that point, I've also often got TNT or Entrapment proccing anyway, so I will generally barely get touched. I also read yet another thread by a member of this same group just a few minutes ago, crying about how trapping is too difficult for her.

Again, the above is proof (in the sense that I know that Pike released a video about chain trapping, which actually led me to improving my own level of ability with that as well) that this rant (and others which will almost certainly follow on the forum) is not directed at Pike and those users of Beast Mastery who genuinely are diligent, intelligent, skilled, and know how to use the tree well.

It is directed at a small, but disproportionally vocal group of utter morons who, while inexplicably managing to obtain access to raids, still continue to give both the BM tree, and our class in general, an undeservedly bad name. I'm going to start to become a lot more active in my opposition to them, because I'm fed up with the fact that they, as a group, exist.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Another milestone

In other Ahn'kahet guild run last night, I managed to hit 3000 AP with Expose Weakness when both group and self buffed. I am not entirely sure whether or not that is still lagging behind most people, but it felt good for me. ;-)

This is the spec which I am currently planning to initially test with instancing/raiding at 80. An offline friend wants me to go straight Marksmanship, although for me that would probably translate to something like this. With lesser gear at least, I'm aware the latter spec would probably do a lot more for me, but really being able to see what a combo TSA/EW spec could also do is something I've been wanting to do for a while. I'm also aware that deep Marks is probably going to give me better mana efficiency than a hybrid, even with 3/3 ToTH, so we will have to see.

Also, Rilgon; as far as the Cobalt Slicer argument is concerned, while I may not be aware of the particulars of the argument, my own experience would lead me to suspect that from his own perspective at least, BRK is right.

The modification to the Agility/AP ratio in TBC (1 Ag = 1 AP, rather than the old rule of 1 Ag = 2 AP, as well as the fact that in itemisation terms, it often ended up being closer to 1 Ag = 2-2.5 AP) introduced a tradeoff effect between Agility and pure AP. With the PvP gear in particular, this was even more the case; the S3 Axe has no base Agility at all. Hence, if you tried to itemise primarily for Agility, you would end up with extremely low AP, comparitively speaking.

It may also not be true in WoTLK, but in TBC anyway, Blizzard overwhelmingly itemised for Beast Mastery (pure AP) rather than the other two trees, (just as they tended to balance us around BM in PvP as well) especially in terms of the PvP gear, as mentioned. It remains to be seen whether or not Blizzard's focus on Hunters will continue to be primarily BM-centric in WoTLK, but the amount of base Agility which I'm already starting to see on new gear gives me cause for optimism.

As I've said before, the TBC Beast Mastery monoculture has not been in anyone's best interests, and it is my earnest hope that as we move into WoTLK, it will start to gradually dissipate. It certainly doesn't serve users of the other two trees, and it doesn't even really benefit the minority of genuine, skilled natives of Beast Mastery either, such as Pike or BRK, because the tree's social reputation is tarnished when it is used by flavour of the month types, or as a crutch by novice players.

To illustrate the above mentioned tradeoff, though, I had 800 base Ag pre-Kara, but was struggling to maintain 1500 base AP, and the tradeoff was never really resolved before T6 gear, which, admittedly, I myself never got. (Although I was still able to observe that by looking at various numbers) Nearly everyone I saw with 2k+ AP during TBC (pre-T6, anywayz) had south of 700 base Ag, including Surv.

To some extent this tradeoff has been alleviated for Survival in WoTLK with the addition of Hunter VS Wild, but because Beast Mastery has nothing like this, the tradeoff is still going to apply until they start to get gear where the numbers of Agility and AP become close to equal, which, if the historical pattern holds true, will not happen until the very end of this expansion.

Thus, although they are still going to need a minimum of 7-800 base Ag (primarily for crit actually, more than anything else; but also to give them a decent base for scaling with raid buffs) I am estimating that before T8-T9 gear at least, once they get past that minimum Agility requirement, pure AP will be much more important for Beast Mastery.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom

In a new guild, (which, it turns out, is actually the old guild in terms of people; I transferred off Thaurissan last week to Saurfang, a Normal server) and just went to this instance for the first time.

Nothing good dropped, but it was still fun; did several bosses etc. Here's a shot of me and the other four people from the group at the end of the run.

You know, people on the forum keep telling me that Survival can't generate decent damage. We're lucky to have the forum, where we can learn such things...because if they hadn't told me that, I wouldn't have known. ;-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's been nearly a week again

I apologise, but unfortunately I really don't have all that much to say right now. I'm still levelling, probably far more slowly than I should be, although I'm up to the Wrathgate sequence, now; just got to finish up a group of quests I'm doing with some goblins.

I tried to do Azjol-Nerub two days ago, which should have warranted a blog posting, except I guess it really wasn't all that interesting. I had a lot of difficulty getting a group, and then we wiped repeatedly on only the first few pulls, which was embarassing. The place seems harder than just about anything else I've ever done before, though.

Has anyone else here found Azjol difficult?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pike shows more and more that we are of like mind

Pike has a post up at the moment about how she hasn't dinged 72 yet, so in being slow myself, I feel as though I'm in considerably better company now, I will admit.

It is interesting, that although she is a native of Beast Mastery, the more I read about Pike's own playstyle in the game, the more I realise that she and I actually have in common.

I could, at this point, digress into a long, deeply geriatric rant about the virtues of conservatism, patience, delayed gratification, and being a kindred spirit of Treebeard ("Now, now, don't be hasty, young master Mariadoc!") more or less in general, but I already did that probably only two posts ago. ;-)

I therefore will not belabour the point, other than to link to two pages, one about Echidna, an animal totem who I feel that I (and perhaps Pike) resonate rather strongly with, and which I feel is relevant here, and another which I feel is even more relevant; Snail.

I will also quote the last line from Aesop's fable, the Tortoise and the Hare.

"Do not brag about your lightning pace, for slow and steady won the race!"

New blog added to my blogroll

I just discovered the blog of Thracyyus, a brother Survivalist who is also levelling through Northrend currently. He's apparently just hit 74, so he's moving at a somewhat faster clip than myself.

He has apparently only started on the seventh of this month, so I would humbly request that some of you possibly go and give him some encouragement.

I've hit 100 subscribers

Another subscriber milestone has been reached. I first hit the 100 subscriber mark last Monday, but according to Feedburner, just hit it again on Friday as well.

I thank Mania of Mania's Arcania in particular; her link to my levelling guide has been a huge boost to my readership, sometimes accounting for close to 50% of my traffic. With her help, I have gone close, once before, to having 100 subs and 100 visitors in a single day. Although I do not really like champagne, and also cannot drink alcohol any more for the sake of my health either, I think when I actually do pass that mark, some type of champagne equivalent will be in order. I don't mind non-alcoholic fizzy dark grape maybe some of that.

I thank the rest of you as well, for your continued visits to the humble Lair. ;-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ding 73

I'm one bubble into level 73 now, almost exactly.

I'd probably be halfway to 74 by now, but I did a Molten Core run this morning as well because one came up in the LFG channel and I still want the Ancient Petrified Leaf. From what I've read about it, this quest chain qualifies as a genuine Rite of Initiation for a Hunter, and I still haven't done it yet.

So my levelling is progressing slowly but steadily. I will reach 80 in due time; probably in about another week at this rate, as I am trying to average one level per day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My pulling sequence at the moment

As mentioned in my last post, I'm back with Explosive Shot at the moment. What I outline here is purely for use against mobs; I got schooled in a duel with a Shadow Priest last night. This spec and method is not for PvP at all.

I know it will sound as though my rotation is changing a lot right now. That is true, and I will admit that it is slowing my levelling down somewhat. However, I have felt a need to do a lot of experimentation with Explosive Shot and various traps, in order to figure out how it and my traps can work together.

Although the below methods are also going to seem extremely slow and overly complicated for some people, I find they give me the following advantages.
  • Mana use is around 5% per kill, with 2-5% health per kill at times as well, due to mobs possibly getting the odd stray hit. With Resourcefulness, ToTH, Lock and Load, and 3/5 Hunting Party, the only mana I spend is for marking, Serpent, traps, and the very occasional Mend Pet. This means that for single mob pulls, I can continue pulling indefinitely, with no down time. Multi mob pulling might cause me to need to eat and drink a bit, but I generally don't go below 45% health.

    Aside from eliminating downtime, the secondary advantage to mana efficiency is a greater chance of surviving against unanticipated numbers of adds. As mentioned previously, I die far more often indirectly because of being out of mana, than I do from scenarios where I still have sufficient mana but simply run out of health.

    Survival is the Ebenezer Scrooge tree for a few different reasons, and this is one of them:- If I can use as little mana as possible against mobs which I do anticipate, that in turn means that I will have as much as possible for mobs which I don't.

  • This is the single most secure method I know of for dealing with unplanned numbers of adds. At 10k health, I can generally handle 4-6 non-elites with my cat and survive; I anticipate that with a Gorilla using the below chain-trapping method in addition to Volley, I could easily survive twice that number.

  • I'm not going to lie to you. If the below seems somewhat slow, that's because it is. Another element of Survival's Saturnine/Scroogelike nature is the fact that, to really enjoy its' characteristics, being slow can at times be as much of an advantage as being fast, especially if it means being deliberate and avoiding mistakes. It's a conscious exchange; I trade speed and offensive damage output for control, robustness, and endurance. The philosophy is that even if I'm a bit slower on per-mob kills because of that, my overall time spent is still a lot less than if I try and hurry, and end up corpse running. The proverb of, "more haste, less speed," applies.

    My individual mob kills are based primarily around my trap duration, which means 15-20 seconds each. When fighting multiple mobs, after one kill, sometimes I will stop for the last five seconds of a trap cooldown as well, to let my cat build some additional threat on the second mob before dropping the next trap and engaging it.
Because of the extra damage which ES gives me, although I'm still trapping every pull, I don't use Immolation Trap most of the time right now. Instead, I've found it good to focus on a trap which inhibits the movement of a mob as much as possible, and I've found that that is easiest with Snake Trap.

Although there are still times when I will use it, Frost Trap just doesn't work as well for me, for a couple of different reasons.
  • The snakes have their own aggro table, so if I drop Snake and feign, a mob is going to spend time killing the snakes first.

  • Frost Trap works very poorly on slopes, and if you fight on a slope, you're only going to get a small left to right portion of the slick to work with.

  • Snakes can apply crippling poison, which slows mobs by 70%. Frost Trap only slows mobs by 60%, and Wing Clip by 50%. I find that when having to fight more than two mobs in sequence, this extra 10-20% speed difference translates directly into me saving an extra 10-20% health, and in scenarios where the adds sometimes just keep coming, in densely populated areas, that is the difference between being able to continue questing/farming, or having to make a corpse run.
So my rotation at the moment is:-
  1. Drop a Snake Trap at 20 yards from the mob. I'm able to use the RangeDisplay addon to figure out how far that is.

  2. Walk backwards to 35-40 yards. As I'm about to hit the 40 yard point, I fire Serpent Sting, and because auto shot won't fire while I'm moving, I also quickly press another key to turn auto shot off. This is so that I don't get a 1k autoshot crit, and front load more threat than the pet can initially get past with Growl. Serpent Sting as an initial shot builds threat over time, so Growl and my pet's specials have more of a chance to keep up.

  3. When the mob hits my Snake Trap, I press another key that is bound to a macro which both applies Hunter's Mark, and sends my cat to attack the mob. Dash means that the mob won't stay at exactly the same spot as the trap, like Charge would have, but that is ok, because when the mob and cat walk forward a bit before fighting, I can simply backpedal.

  4. When Lock and Load procs from my Snake Trap, I use the rotation Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, Explosive Shot. Sometimes if it's a more difficult mob, or if I've got an add and so need to get the first one down more quickly, (say against the two part horse and rider mobs at New Hearthglen) my rotation will be Explosive Shot, Aimed Shot, Multi Shot, Explosive Shot. The second rotation however uses quite a bit more mana, so I don't use it unless I really need to.

  5. After using the non-Multi rotation, the mob will usually be alive for another 1-2 seconds, which is fine. I can either fire another autoshot to finish, or keep backpedalling while my pet and the snakes finish up. I find that I can generally time it so that the snakes and the mob both die at exactly the same time, which means my kills take 15 seconds precisely, and with Resourcefulness, my trap cooldown usually finishes 1-2 seconds later as well.
If I know that I can expect to have adds ahead of time, my procedure is a little different, but not much.
  1. First, I chain trap. Chain trapping for me means putting down my first trap before I pull, and waiting until the trap cooldown has only 5 seconds left before pulling. This is slow, so you won't want to do it every pull; only for ones where you're expecting adds.

    Pike (and some other people) might like chaining Freeze Traps, and that's fine, but I actually like putting down a Frost Trap first, and then using a Snake Trap for each individual mob. The reason why I do this is because, if you use Freezing Trap, it will only stop one mob. Frost Trap gives me a 60% speed reduction against however many mobs walk onto the slick, even if it's another four or so. Snake Trap against individual mobs then also gives me the additional 10%, which means that while I might still have to move around a bit, I am at least able to distribute a marginal amount of CC to all of them. I can also Feign Death and apply Growl to each of them, while of course keeping Mend Pet up.

  2. Next, when I send the pet, I put Mend Pet up, I Growl at the first mob, attack said first mob with the pet until around halfway through the Growl cooldown, and then retarget the second mob and Growl at it.

  3. I then redirect the pet back to attacking the first mob, drop Snake Trap, and kill it in the usual way. People might say to simply use Volley, but if I do that without a Gorilla, I pull threat very quickly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

72, pets, and spec schizophrenia

It's 7:57 am here, and I just dinged level 72 a few minutes ago. I started somewhere between 12:30 and 1 am this morning, and I wasn't very far into level 71 at the time, which means going from 71 and 72 has taken me probably close to nine hours in total, although there was a trip to Dalaran to restock ammunition, and back to Orgrimmar to respec and train Kill Shot.

I don't like Dalaran as much as I liked Shattrath, I've decided. Stormwind is probably my least favourite city in this game, and my distaste for Dalaran exists for more or less the same reasons. Both cities feel extremely small, cramped, and inorganic. I ended up very fond of Shattrath, by comparison, and the reason why is because it was exactly the opposite.

Good urban design in my own mind calls for both intelligent use of the z axis, and a lot of plants, and any city which is all stone or concrete and no greenery at all, generally isn't one that I'm going to be very happy in. It probably goes without saying that Thunder Bluff is a place that I very much enjoy spending time in, although Blizz could possibly improve it with a bit more shrubbery here and there.

As for the other half of this post's title, it's due to me having gone back to 0/10/51, although that's now 0/11/52 considering that I've leveled twice. Given the amount of abuse I've hurled at this spec, you'd be entirely justified in wondering why I would do that.

I will still be using the hybrid for battleground pvp, but for levelling or farming, the main thing is, I realised that Furnurgler was right. I went with the hybrid spec because I thought it would be more DPS, (which it is, marginally) and I was also putting pressure on myself for a while to level up faster, in order to proverbially keep up with the Joneses.

I'm realising now that that was stupid. As long as I trap in place, trapping is actually faster for levelling for the simple reason that trapping means I actually want to play the game at all; with a more dps oriented spec, per-kill levelling might have been faster, but it was boring me and affecting my level of motivation. Now instead of finding killing mobs boring, it's actually partially addictive for me.

I'm not sure I will ever stop wrestling with this entirely, but the one thing I need to learn more than anything else, is to ignore the expectations and preconceptions of other people, and simply follow my own instincts. Once I do that, I enjoy the game. When I stop doing it and cave in to the pressure temporarily, I again find it difficult to stay motivated about playing, because I'm not being true to myself.

For another thing, the difference in DPS between 0/10/51 and 0/30/31 is around 40, (550 while trapping, as opposed to 590ish with a 1:1.5 rotation with Aimed and Serpent with 0/30/31, although by the time I finished this morning, Recount was showing me having peaked at around 640) and the other thing is, I have vastly better mana efficiency and endurance.

With the hybrid spec I have to drink probably every four mobs, and given how densely packed most mobs are in Northrend, I can get half a dozen adds almost without thinking about it. If I'm going to survive that, I need all the mana efficiency I can get. I was dying a few times with the hybrid whereas I don't now, simply because I'd go oom and not be able to finish off all of the adds I was getting because of it.

I know the answer to this from most people will be to get a Gorilla and spam Volley, however there are two reasons why I haven't (and most likely won't) ended up doing that.

The first reason is that simply spamming a single spell (or close to) isn't a playstyle that I enjoy, and was the main reason why I found the 1:1 rotation so unbearable during TBC. If I'm going to avoid getting bored to the point where it is literally physically painful, I need to be able to think about things a bit more than that.

The second reason is that the Gorilla is nerf bait. As much as I hate to say it, I have a very powerful hunch that a Thunderstomp nerf is soon going to be coming to a Gorilla near you. Every time the community has previously decided that there is One Pet To Rule Them All, Blizz have nerfed it, presumably to enforce a greater degree of diversity among chosen pets.

The first victim of the nerf bat was Lightning Breath, after it was found to scale so well. Then came the discovery and subsequent nerfing of both Scorpid Poison, and my own dearly beloved Boar Charge.

These are three powerful precedents, and given how upset I was with the Charge nerf, I've decided I don't want to become attached to and dependent on Thunderstomp, only to have Blizzard take that away from me as well.

As much as Hortus swore until he was blue in the face that Charge's threat generation was bugged, I never believed him. My experience has proven me right; a boar with full Tenacity spec now has nowhere near the aggro holding capacity of a cat, and Ferocity is not a tanking tree.

Boars had (and still have) a 10% penalty to damage, to balance their +10% bonus to health. Given that, unless their means of threat generation is genuinely astronomical, they have no chance of being able to cope whatsoever.

I sincerely hope that I'm wrong about this, because I know there are a lot of Hunters who love their Gorilla, but I have an uncomfortable and persistent feeling that I won't be. The scenario with Thunderstomp is too similar to the previous ones.

The other major point about Explosive Shot is that I quite simply didn't previously know how to use it. ES's primary hit damage (of under 300) is not the point. The point is the additional DoT, which stacks with both Serpent Sting and Immolation Trap.

In that sense, Survival is like the Shaman, whose damage doesn't come from a single source, but comes from totems, the enhancement weapon enchant, shocks/lightning, and melee damage. In Surv's own case, it's Serpent Sting, Immolation Trap, Arcane, Explosive, Kill Shot, and Autoshot, with the occasional raptor strike/wing clip combo while kiting.

Survival's damage is only really primarily crit based inside an instance, where I have a human tank in front of me who has vastly more ability at re-acquiring threat than my pet does if I screw up.

When I'm soloing, however, particularly against groups, critting high gets me killed, because it pulls all of the mobs onto me, and keeps them within melee range, so I can't get them off me, and I can't do enough damage to kill them before they kill me. I want crits, yes; but I primarily want them for proccing things. In damage terms during solo PvE, that is what my dots are for.

So my new rotation is, drop a frost trap and jump back from it slightly, use either Serpent Sting or a dagger for pulling, (the dagger is for very low threat pulls, where I'm worried about adds) and send my cat when the mob hits the trap. I then turn and jump out to 20-25 yards, turn back, apply Serpent if I haven't already, and then use Explosive, Arcane, Explosive due to the Lock and Load proc. The reason why I allow an Arcane in between Explosives is to give the DoT time to do its' work before re-applying it.

I haven't encountered a non-elite mob of my own level yet, that won't be dead by that point. Multiple mobs are a bit harder, but not much. I simply have my cat Growl at each one before opening fire, kite around the edge of the frost slick, and also try and time using my Lock and Load procs for just before Feign Death is back up.

It's a very kinetic, acrobatic playstyle, (almost as much as the Mage, but not quite) and with the addition of Lock and Load, I find that quite aside from being slow, I actually have to move fairly quickly in order to take advantage of, and string together, my various procs. Although I'm still primarily ranged, I'm also finding that I'm a more or less equal partner in tanking with the pet, and have been going through more food than water. Aspect of the Dragonhawk is going to be a real Godsend for me.

The benefit, however, is that I can tank close to half a dozen adds if need be, maintain sufficient mana to deal with all of them, and also, if I'm careful with my threat, survive situations which I am initially sure will kill me. I hardly ever have to drink, either, so my downtime is minimal, although as mentioned, I can spend a fair amount of time eating after a reasonably big pull.

I also know, however, that I don't have the money to keep respeccing, so this is the spec I'm going to stick with, at least until 80. Given how much fun I had this morning though, I don't think that is going to be an issue.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A confession

I'm not entirely sure when I'm going to hit 80. I'm not 72 yet, and as I said to Kordwar in my comments, I honestly don't know why, but I'm possibly the slowest leveller on the face of the Earth. Maybe I genuinely do just suck; it upsets me at times.

Although I will say one thing; I'm enjoying myself. The Howling Fjord quests I did this morning were an absolute blast, and although they weren't quite as much fun, the Borean Tundra quests before that were good, too.

I heard about some people destroying everything within three days, and I had mixed feelings. To begin with, I'll admit it; I'm jealous, and feel woefully inadequate, comparitively speaking. I also don't understand why I'm so slow, and other people can be so fast. I try to have as little epeen as possible, but what very little I have got, feels like it got run over by a truck. ;-)

On the other hand, I read an analogy for what Nihilum did which I thought fit perfectly. A Rogue philosopher on the forums compared it with, "being given a delicious chocolate fudge cake, but having it pumped directly into your stomach with a tube."

I agree with the above analogy, because, when I first arrived at Warsong Hold, there was a mixture of awe and curiosity. I ran around it looking at things, and was also doing that in the quarry and the other environments as well. The Fjord quests, as I said, are also awesome; I'm enjoying them immensely as well.

I think that's my real problem, in terms of why I'm so slow with WoW's content. To keep using the food analogy, raiders might want to tear through to the dessert phase, but I unavoidably enjoy Blizzard's main course that much that I tend to go back for a fifth (or more) serve of that.

It does make me consider, though; I largely missed dessert at the TBC party. If I can make it to the dessert end of the buffet table before the end of the WoTLK one, maybe I'll actually try and grab some ice cream this time. ;-)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Spec confirmation

Just in case there was any lingering doubt, I can confirm that 0/10/51 is not a good DPS spec. I had read some praise of it on Brig's forums, and so decided, in a disastrous move, to test it for levelling around halfway to 71.

The real problem with it is simply the setup, and in that respect, trapping has of course always been slow. If I'm farming in a scenario where I don't care how much time I spend, that's fine; and especially considering that in Outland after I got to 70, pulling threat was also a real issue. Although it's true that once the trap goes off, mobs will die with that spec faster than they do with 0/31/30, as mentioned, it's the setup that's the killer.

I recommended trapping (and I still do) against heavy armor, when you don't have a lot of armor pen. However at the moment, a) I'm sitting on around 3% armor pen, b) the early mobs in Northrend don't have much armor, and c) because armor isn't an issue, I can kill mobs before they cross the 40 yards to reach me even if I pull threat, and so being able to start shooting as soon as I send my pet is more important to me.

It is also true that mana efficiency is much better with 0/10/51 than with my DPS spec as well. However, even though with my DPS spec I'm having to drink every four mobs, I find that trapping is that much slower that even with having to do that, I still save time. I will probably be going to bed in less than two hours from when I write this, but with a bit of luck I might get to 71 before I do.

Two new additions to my blogroll

Just got two new sites for the blogroll.

Maevet's blog, and Mania's Arcania.

You probably know about both of these by now. Maevet is a BM Hunter who's been reading (and commenting!) me, Rilgon, and Pike for a while now. Mania's Arcania is a big pet site apparently written by one of the same people who writes for Petopia, which is another really useful site.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Northrend, and war

We had been fools, I realised ruefully.

I stood on the north coast of Durotar, near the zeppelin tower, looking out to sea; perhaps ten feet from the waterline. One of my hands played with the boar's mane thoughtfully, as a few other strands of it moved back and forth in the sea breeze.

We thought we could maintain the status quo indefinitely.

If not true peace with the Humans, then at least a state of cold war, on a few, isolated fronts, while we continued to strengthen our position on Kalimdor, and hopefully, gradually improve diplomatic relations with Stormwind. We thought the Forsaken had set themselves a fool's quest, and that we would not have to worry about them recreating the Plague, because surely it was impossible.

We were wrong on both counts.

I shook my head, as I realised the folly of it. Grom Hellscream would never have approved of that. Peace was not the way of our people; truthfully it had never been, even before the Blood. Varian Wrynn might have been driven mad himself by hate, but he was right about that, at least.

My own admiration for the Warchief was second only to that which I felt for Hellscream himself, but although my fists clenched when I thought of Garrosh raising a hand against Thrall, I had to grudgingly acknowledge that in one respect, he had been right.

Peace had not been good for us. Guilt had softened us. Made us fat, lazy, and complacent. In seeking to preserve us, and keep us from extinction, Thrall had threatened to change the very nature of our people, and in a way, that would have been extinction as well.

To be sure, there had been the Legion campaign to keep us busy, but in truth, the demons had never been as big a threat as we had once feared. It was only their sheer numbers which really made them dangerous, and for a clever general, there are ways around numerical advantage. Once we had taken their measure, it had simply been a gruelling test of our endurance, and the main form of war that I had learned to fight was a seige.

The Legion's other major weakness was that it had a clear chain of command, which, once we discovered, we were able to eliminate the major elements of. The rest of the demons, due to this, had now largely been reduced to a mindless, wandering state.

And Illidan? Ha! The Betrayer, one of the princes of the Kel'dorei, in the end reduced to nothing, as I had anticipated he would be. Even with the Skull of Gul'dan, he was still a Night Elf; a member of the most contemptible race that had ever set foot on either of the two worlds. Although, I reflected, smiling fondly as I thought not only of Nariyya, but of one other fellow Hunter I knew, and the former head of our order, some few of them had proven themselves.

I realised that I had hungered for peace myself, without even knowing it. I was gradually moving past fighting age, and as one becomes an old Orc, and the call of the grandfathers slowly grows louder, the fire in our blood burns down to embers. Then we seek peace, for ourselves at least, and a secure place of solitude, where we can sit and dream of past victories, until the time of our rejoining with the earth comes.

This thought made me think again, with worry, of Varian Wrynn, the resurgent king of the Humans. He was still young, and impulsive, and sought war with us for no sound reason other than his own hatred.

Ordinarily the thought of resumed conflict with the Alliance, if distasteful to me, would not have been considered a dire matter. However, with the resurgence of the Lich King as a threat, having to fight a war on two fronts would not go well for us.

Wrynn did not have to be a huge problem. Most of the desire for war among the Alliance came from the king himself, and if he could be assassinated, and even more, if it could appear that we were not responsible for it, the Alliance could still be led to peace. In war with us, the Alliance would be in a similar position, fighting on two fronts, which I knew they would not enjoy.

For all their triumphalism and bravado, the Humans were a weak race. During the First and Second Wars, Blackrock Spire itself was really the first time they had presented us with any significant challenge. Before then, we had simply been chasing a stampede of terrified cattle; we might have been driven mad by the Blood, but they were driven equally mad with fear.

It was no war. It was a massacre, and that, in truth, was the real reason why many of us felt guilt for it. There is no honour in fighting an opponent who is too weak and pathetic to be able to defend themselves, and up until Blackrock Spire, that is what the Humans were.

And now, that the Legion campaign had been carried, as much as by anyone else, on the Orcish back, in our weakened state, when Orgrimmar had also been shattered by the Lich King's initial assault, like a true Human, the cowardly upstart Wrynn had seen his chance to strike.

Although the Warchief might have slain him, I always felt that Aedelas Blackmoore embodied the true spirit of the Alliance; a woman beater, a traitor, and a drunk, who even while committing his sins, insisted that he was a child of the Light. I saw that spirit alive and well in Varian Wrynn.

So we would go to Northrend. I relished the thought of uncovering new ground, and stalking new prey, but at the thought of the Lich King, in truth, my slowly aging bones ached.

When you have seen enough battles, you eventually get a sense of which will be fast, and effortless, and which will not. I could already sense that the Northrend campaign would be long and arduous. Arthas, I felt, would prove a maniacal, but still dogged opponent, and then we had his spiritual brother, Wrynn, to deal with as well. It would not be easy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More updates

Just added a rough Surv levelling guide for 3.0. It includes a spec guide, and a basic, pre-raid gear guide for getting to 70. It is still under construction, and probably doesn't have everything that need to be there, yet...but for anyone who's wondering how to spec Surv from level 10, it will probably give you a decent start.

Enough writing for now, though; I need to get back in and actually play the game! ;-)

Rough Survival Levelling Guide for 3.0

What follows is a rough Survival levelling guide incorporating the new talents for 3.0. I still need to do some more testing, primarily of the effects of some of the newer talents on lower level play, but I'm fairly confident in publishing this for the time being.

There also may not be absolutely everything you need to know here, but you will hopefully find it a good start.

This was originally sent via Gmail to someone who asked for a Hunter guide for his own site, and as such, the active HTML links have been lost. Nevertheless, all of the weapons mentioned below in the equipment guide can be accessed from

It is true that of the options that are available for levelling, Survival is certainly not the most rapid path. However, the advantage is that levelling with the tree will allow you to develop a much greater level of understanding of the Hunter as a class than you perhaps otherwise would. For a new Hunter, then, it should be given serious consideration.


The single first thing is addons; I find that when I'm starting a new Hunter, it's good to have a few specific things loaded straight away, and keep them running for the entire time I'm playing. All of these addons are either available from, and I don't run entire compiled UI replacements personally, as I tried a few of those, and found they took up way too much RAM, as well as causing problems with my video card. So instead, I get single addons, and try and focus on things which are minimal in terms of memory/processor usage.

I don't use any bar replacements, either. I was using Bongos3 before the patch, but it no longer works, and the author of that isn't updating it any more, either.

I generally don't run map addons, either, although I do use TomTom, which is a co-ordinate display that is consistent with my own desire for minimalism. There are some good ones around (Metamap and Cartographer are the main two that come to mind) but I find that they actually provide more functions than I really need. Some people might want them though.

Some of these are situational, and I don't keep them running all the time. I only run QuestHelper if I'm questing, Deadly Boss Mods if I'm raiding, or Battleground General if I'm in a battleground.

I also use a macro for both applying Hunter's Mark and sending my pet. I used to use quite a lot of macros, but patch 3.0 has broken the functionality of most of them. Before the patch I would have done a fairly extensive section on macros, but it's sadly fairly pointless now. This macro is:-

/assist (Only when you're in a raid or 5 man instance; delete this line the rest of the time)
/cast Hunter's Mark

The one other macro I would use in 5 man instances is for trapping. Once you've dropped a trap, use a seperate keybind to set the trap target as your focus, which is an additional stored target that you are allowed. Then use this macro to pull it to the trap.

/cast [target=focus] Distracting Shot
/assist (tankname)

I also use a Logitech G15 USB keyboard with six G macro keys, and recommend either that or, ideally, the ZBoard Merc Keyboard if you can get it. Note however that the G15 at least, (and probably the ZBoard) because they are USB, may not work as well with Linux or Mac OSX as they do with Windows.

The primary macro I use with the G15 is one for very low-threat pulling, with lowest level available version of the Rogue's throwing knives, after having learned the Thrown weapon class. I have the keys alt-X bound to equipping the knives, shift-X bound to throwing them, and X bound to re-equpping my bow, and then I have a macro set up for the G15, so with one key, I can use alt-X, shift-X, and X in sequence. This is also not technically against the TOS, as Palehoof on the forum has said that use of the macro keys for relatively simple actions (such as this) while at the keyboard is allowed; what constitutes botting is running long automated scripts unattended.

My addons are:-
  • ArkInventory. (Best inventory addon I've ever found; this mod is a little bloated, but it's worth it)

  • Battleground General (BGs; unload otherwise)

  • DeadlyBossMods (For raiding; unload it otherwise)

  • DurabilityStatus

  • Kharthus' Hunter Timers

  • Mobinfo (Optional; this one takes up a lot of system resources and while useful, isn't crucial)

  • OmniCC

  • Omen3

  • OPie (

  • Proximo (For Arena; unload otherwise)

  • QuestHelper (Only if you're doing quests. Unload it the rest of the time, because it puts a heavy load on the system)

  • RangeDisplay

  • Recount

  • RedRange (from

  • TomTom (from, not Curse; my preferred co-ordinate mod)

  • XLoot (My only purely aesthetic mod, but I like it)

  • X-Perl UnitFrames


So you've just started a brand new Hunter, and probably been given the first quest to go and kill ten boars, or ten mana wraiths, or ten cats, or whatever. Fine and good.

You will find that the abilities you are given build up slowly, and allow you time to integrate each of them into your overall arsenal, and, if you experiment with them, become familiar with their use.

I also don't for one moment recommend taking what I write here as the sole gospel truth, either. Experiment with every ability you get, and find uses for it if you can.

Also consider reading the Hunter forum, as well. It might be something of a social cess pool, but like in real life sewers, occasionally you will find a rare and exceptionally valuable treasure, in amongst all the fecal matter.

Although many possibly don't know this, the first 20 or so levels (particularly the first 10) are actually a crucial time for a new Hunter. The single reason why is because you don't get your pet until level 10, which means that you have the best opportunity you'll get to learn our single most important skill; kiting.

The ability to kite is one of the primary things that allows us to solo instances which some other classes can't. It's also one reason why we can dominate battlegrounds, but our inability to do it there is one of the main reasons why we're so poor in the Arena. In other words, it's a very important skill to have.

While I won't give you instructions as to specific quests, what I will give you is sets of tactics, that will incorporate each new ability, as you get them. The single most important consideration in my view, when soloing with a pet, is careful management of your threat, which can be monitored with the Omen3 addon mentioned above. You do not want your level of threat with an individual mob to exceed that of the pet, because if it does, the mob will switch from attacking the pet, and will then target you, forcing you to either kite, or use our largely vestigial melee abilities.

Some basic instruction on how to kill the very first mobs here, although it's pretty straightforward. These ones don't need kiting.
  • Move to maximum range from the target. Both RangeDisplay and RedRange will help with this. Before you put three points in Hawk Eye, that will be 30 yards.

  • Fire exactly three arrows at the target.

  • By that point, the target will be almost within melee range, but not quite. Press the 2 key to queue Raptor Strike. If you time it correctly, you can sometimes get the swing off and kill the mob without it having hit you once.

Once you've done the first quest, and got yourself to level 2-3 or so, you might find that the mobs you come up against do a bit more damage; more than you'd actually be comfortable with if you had to fight a group of them. This is where kiting starts to come in.

Artanis has put together a video in which he demonstrates kiting, and I recommend it.
  • Again, move to maximum range from the target. This is even more important when kiting, than when you aren't. You need as much room and distance from the target as you can get.

  • Fire one, maybe two arrows at the target if you're daring. If you've got it, (I think you get it at level 6) make the first shot Serpent Sting, as that will keep doing damage to the target while you're moving.

  • Turn, jump 3-4 times forward, and then turn back and fire once, again. You most likely won't be able to get more than one shot off before the target would reach you, but that is fine.

  • Repeat until the target is dead, re-applying Serpent Sting as necessary. Once you get Concussive Shot, you can also use that, when a mob has almost caught up to you, to slow the mob's movement, and get some additional distance from it.

The above two sequences are what you will be using until level 10, when you get your first pet.

I recommend a Boar as the first pet type. They're capable tanks for the early game, with +10% health, and they eat pretty much anything you'll find, so you won't have to spend time looking for rare food for them while you're levelling. You will, however, want to get a Gorilla as soon as they become available, which I believe should be at around level 35 from Stranglethorn Vale.

If you go to your pet trainer, they will tell you where to go at level 10, to get the quests you need for pet training.

At level 10, you will also start to get talent points. The talent specialization I will recommend for levelling is Survival. Pike already has information for levelling with Beast Mastery, so if you want that, her own guide would be the document to see.

The first three points to put in Survival for me are Hawk Eye. This is in keeping with the real-world military proverb that range is life. The more distance you have from a target, the easier it is for you to kite, and if you always start a pull from maximum range, it will normally ensure that even if you do pull threat from your pet, the mob will still be dead before it can reach melee range. A Survival Hunter with this talent also has greater range than any other class in the game, and it is for this reason that Hawk Eye is the one Survival talent generally taken by fellow Hunters, who otherwise put the rest of their points in a different tree.

So at level 20, your spec would be as follows.

The first three points, as mentioned, are in Hawk Eye, with the next five going into Improved Tracking. The next two are in Survival Instincts, and the last one is in Survivalist. Your main priority at this point is to get to Hunter VS Wild, which you will reach at level 34. This will give start to boost your damage, especially considering that gear which specifically boosts Stamina is in greater supply while levelling than in the later game. Later gear usually treats Stamina as just one stat among many.

Note also, however, that the above spec is intended for a Normal or RP server. For PvP servers, putting points in Surefooted instead (the below spec) is advised, since this will offer you a substantial advantage against Rogues in particular while levelling.

At level 30:-
At level 40:-
At level 50:-
At level 60:-
At level 70:-

At level 70 there is the option of going with the above linked spec, or respeccing to the following:-

Although the first of those two 70 specs is still decent, with Resourcefulness and Noxious Stings, it is more oriented towards levelling and farming, whereas the second linked 70 spec is much more burst oriented and will do better in instances, while still being capable enough for levelling. The choice is up to the individual.

Level 80 (deeper Survival):-
Level 80 (hybrid Marksmanship):-

Going back to when you first have your pet at level 10, my standard tactics for single mobs (before Immolation Trap) are as follows:-

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

You do not generally want to use Arcane or Multi Shot until much later in the game. Even in instances, before probably Zul'Farrak, using Arcane or Multi will generally cause more harm than good for a tank where threat is concerned, so it will be a good idea to simply use Serpent Sting, Auto, and an Immolation Trap, as if you have a good quality bow, and use these well, you will find that they can still enable you to come top in damage in the earlier instances, while keeping your threat low enough that the other players in the group will not hate you. You will have Immolation Trap by level 16, so one level before the Wailing Caverns.

Once you get Immolation Trap at level 16, outside an instance, my usual sequence for killing mobs changes slightly.

  • Get to maximum range. This should be around 30 yards at this point, according to Rangefinder. RedRange will assist you in determining this as well.

  • Have your pet attack the mob, using the macro described above.

  • Wait 3-5 seconds for the pet to establish threat. 3 should be fine if you're in a hurry; you primarily want time for Charge and the initial Growl.

  • Fire Serpent Sting.

  • Use Auto Shot until the mob is dead.

The above sequence for killing single targets is my staple as a Hunter, and barring unique circumstances, will generally serve you well while levelling or farming for the remainder of the game. The one element in which the above sequence changes, is in the use of Steady, Auto rather than pure Auto to kill mobs, once you get Steady at level 50. While it may be true that the recent patch allows for Steady to be fired constantly rather than needing a Steady, Auto rotation, I still recommend doing that rotation for the purposes of minimising both threat and mana use.

This concludes the section primarily related to levelling, although I will be talking about a few specific instances later as well. The last thing I will mention here, is that you gain Feign Death at level 30, and Misdirection at level 70. These two abilities are probably our two most important as a Hunter, after kiting. In order to know when to use Feign Death, you need to keep a close eye on your threat meter, Omen3 as mentioned above. Misdirection onto the pet, properly used, will allow you to perform many pulls and thus solo many situations successfully, which other classes could not.


We now come to a discussion of five man instances. I want to emphasise the importance of doing these, if a person wishes to become genuinely competent as a Hunter. There are far too many people who simply rush to 70 or 80 as quickly as possible, and then when they get there and are confronted by truly challenging content, panic and are reviled by the other members of the group they are in, because they discover that they have no real skill or familiarity with the class.

The Hunter is arguably the single most complex and versatile class in this game; Hunters often complain about having a greater number of spells and keybinds than most. We have less margin for error than other classes, and given the nature of some of our abilities, can potentially cause far more dangerous consequences to a group if said abilities are misused. Because of this, if you wish to do well in groups, it is essential to obtain as much experience doing them as possible. Do not, above all, wait for raids to be the first instances you walk into. Your progression can and should start with the two instances I mention here; the Deadmines and the Wailing Caverns.

The first thing I will do is make mention of some specific items which a new Hunter will want to obtain from both the Deadmines instance in Westfall, and the Wailing Caverns in the Barrens, as these items are of very good quality for the level, and will make levelling accordingly faster. Given the relatively few damage bonuses early on, Survival as a tree is exceptionally gear dependent, and being able to identify relevant items is thus very important. Because of this, it helps if the Hunter you are levelling is actually an alt, and you already have a high level main which can then be used to finance the Hunter.

I'm not going to go through and do this for every instance in the game, however, the point here is to show you the kinds of stats that you're going to want to look for as a Hunter. Those are Stamina and Agility primarily for Survival, with Attack Power, Crit Rating, and Intellect all taking secondary (but still important) priority. Do not get Spellpower, Strength, or Defense Rating, as those are for other classes and do nothing whatsoever for us.

The weapon classes we want to use (aside from the ranged weapons, of course) are primarily Polearms, with the occasional two handed Axe, and a pair of Daggers for rare, situational use. In my backpack I generally carry both a Polearm or two handed Axe, which is my primary melee weapon and generally worn for the stats while I am shooting, and a pair of Daggers. Daggers are, as mentioned, to be used much more rarely; for sporadic, fast AoE work where you cannot use Volley due to pulling threat anyway, and for offtanking when running lower level characters through much lower level instances. You also do not generally want Daggers slower than 1.6 seconds if you can avoid it, since melee for a Hunter is almost a form of kiting, and you need to be able to jump and move around a lot.

Melee, however, does cause considerable risk for a Hunter, as well as radically reducing our damage output, (particularly against high armor) and should therefore only be used minimally and as a last resort. The Daggers are, however, nice to have, and can occasionally allow for getting rid of a melee urge in rare situations if you know you're not in any real danger. ;-)

Given that the below items are blue, the drop rate can be low, so you might have to run both instances a few times to get them all. That will not hurt you, as it will provide you with valuable experience.

In order to find which items from other instances are good for Hunters, you can use exactly the same method I used here. Go to, and search for the instance in question. It will then show you a loot table.

In the Deadmines:-
The Blackened Defias Armor from Edwin Van Cleef. +4 Strength, +3 Agility, +11 Stamina. Ordinarily we do not want Strength at all as a Hunter; it is the other two stats which are of interest. The amount of Agility is small, but the Stam is good, and it will keep you going for a few levels at least.

The Cape of the Brotherhood from Edwin Van Cleef. +6 Agility, +3 Stamina.

The Buzzer Blade from Sneed or Sneed's Shredder. Although there are no other base stats, the stat of interest here is +5 crit rating, which is exceptional for this early in the game. Hunters can learn to dual wield at level 20, so if you run the Deadmines repeatedly and get two of these, if you have a wealthy main, a suggestion would be to then get both of them enchanted with +15 Agility. This will give you more Agility (30 overall) and crit chance (10 overall) than you can get from just about any other weapon at this level, and they should last you well into the 40s.

The Impaling Harpoon from Captain Greenskin. +12 Agility. If you don't want to go with the above path, this will still serve you well. We do not primarily fight in melee as a Hunter at all, and you primarily want to avoid melee combat if you can, but melee weapons with the relevant stats are still important, and melee is at rare times unavoidable as well.

From the Wailing Caverns:-

The Belt of the Fang. +5 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Footpads of the Fang. +6 Agility, +6 Stamina.

The Glowing Lizardscale Cloak. +6 Agility, +2 Stamina.

The Leggings of the Fang. +5 Strength, +9 Agility, +4 Stamina.

The Serpent's Shoulders. + 9 Agility.

Venomstrike. A greatly prized bow among 10-19 Warsong Gulch twinks, it will help you level as well.

The above equipment will give you a good set that should last you probably into the mid 30s, and will hopefully give you a beginning idea of what stats to ideally look for. Another place which is a wonderful source of gear for levelling is the entrance to the Warsong Gulch battleground for your faction. You will find the Horde entrance at the Mor'shan Base Camp at the edge of Ashenvale Forest, and the Alliance Entrance in Ashenvale itself. Speak to the quartermaster there, and you will be shown a range of daggers, bows, cloaks, and a few other items, most of which you can get a new version of (with higher stats) around every ten levels or so.

Other standout items to look for while levelling are:-
Julie's Dagger. Among the fastest weapons in the game. Look for these on the Auction House, where they can go for between 60-100g each. Get two of these at level 55 and put a +20 agility enchant on them.

The Ice Barbed Spear at level 51. Enchant this with +35 Agility and it will last you until the Survivalist's Pike, after which you can then get Terokk's Quill. The Quill is the best pre-WoTLK weapon for Survival outside raiding.

The High Warlord's Street Sweeper at level 60. Slap a Stabilized Eternium Scope on this and it will last you until the Gunblade at 65. Then there's Valanos' Longbow from the AH at 70.

Another very important point, is soloing instances. As well as being enjoyable, this is a very good way to stay in practice, and hone various skills and awareness of different elements of our class.

The Scarlet Monastery Cathedral and Zul'Farrak are probably the two best training grounds in the game for Hunters to solo, along with the Scholomance. The Cathedral is where you can first learn about freeze trapping with Multi-Shot, and the importance of pulling mobs gradually an in order, to avoid being overrun. Scholo will teach you about situational awareness, more about correct execution order, and to a small extent, developing your own tactics as the situation demands it.

You can begin soloing the Cathedral at level around level 45 as Survival, and Zul'Farrak at 60, although you will need to be very careful in both at first. The Scholomance should probably not be attempted before 70. Rattlegore in particular is fairly easy at 70, but can be dangerous before T5/S2 gear.