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10 x 85 Analysis: Hunter

April 23, 2012

Dear Reader,

There hasn’t been too much progress, honestly, in the 10 x 85 challenge I set for myself.  I quickly topped out at 8 85s, but since then progress has been slow.  Recently, though, I did pick back up my hunter and begin pushing through Outlands and Northrend, where I currently reside.  I wanted, though, to begin the analysis of what I’ve learned since Mists may come out before I finish.  Today we’ll start with the most recent toon I’ve been playing, and in coming correspondences, I’ll look back across the others, touching on some of my other experiences as I leveled heavily through LFD, PvP, and questing.  This won’t be a continuous series, but instead will pop up from time to time.

The first and foremost thing I’ve recently learned is that all the jokes, all the comics, all the gentle teasing we direct at hunters about their class being ez-mode is 100% accurate.  Hunters are ridiculously easy to play.  It’s no surprise to me that the first (and I think at this point only) Iron Man was a hunter.  While they may or may not be tops in PvP (they are) or PvE (they’re pretty damn good there, too), in solo questing, they’re extremely efficient.  Unlike on any other character I’ve played, I’ve been able to chain pull almost indefinitely, pulling sometimes up to 10 equivalent-level mobs at once (the clustered vultures in Hellfire, to be specific, then more recently rhinos in Borean Tundra) and survive.

It could get a little hairy, but with (now) two AoE traps, a tank pet with an on-cooldown taunt, disengage, various slows and stuns, and of course feign death if things looked really bad, I’ve not died to a pull like that yet.  Additionally, I’ve been able to handle  two equivalent level elites plus several trash adds at once (a whoopsy pull in the magnatuar caves) and survive.  Hell – I was able to beat the first round in the Ring of Blood at 66 by myself.  With everything that got nerfed, it didn’t, and it was a rough fight that ended with me running and gunning when Brokentoe eventually got my boar down, but I still won.

It doesn’t end in solo questing, though.  I’ve often been top dps in 5 mans (which may not be impressive since clearly a lot of people are just phoning their roles in nowadays) without looking up anything about rotation or keeping most of my gear up to date (I realized at level 70 that I was wearing a level 58 belt – whoops!).

It’s not much different in PvP.  I queued last night thinking “Hey, I’m 70, might as well enjoy being at the top of my bracket,” forgetting that 70 is at the bottom of the bracket.  Some players had twice my hit points or more, but with a mark, my pet webbing them, an aimed shot, a chimera shot, and some luck, I could down many of them before they touched me.  Of course, if they did get near me I got obliterated, but hey, that’s PvP.  I was able to help turn a losing match around to a 3 cap win simply by grabbing the flag while all the morons fought in mid, telling the two other competent players where I was running, handing off the flag when they met me, then slowing, stunning, trapping, or sacrificing myself while the FC got away.  It was odd; I don’t think I’ve ever considered my contributions useful when I was at the bottom of a bracket, but that’s sort of my point: hunters are very, very good.

Now, I’m not so foolish as to not realize that the game’s gotten much easier over the years, and that my early leveling experiences do not and should not in any way be compared to the current leveling game.  Still, keep in mind that I’ve leveled a mage from scratch, a rogue from early 60s to max, a DK from “scratch,” a shaman from scratch, and a warlock from early 70s since Cataclysm came out.  With that in mind, I feel I can unequivocally say that if you want an easy leveling experience that takes little to no effort, play a hunter.


Stubborn (a.k.a. DavyOrckett and his lion, Cuddles)

One Comment leave one →
  1. kaleedity permalink*
    May 1, 2012 1:41 pm

    Hunters are, indeed, the easiest class to get by and level to cap. It’s generally all in the pet; even an automated pet that has no pet talents allocated can generally kill equal level mobs. You’d have to spec not demo and think to not change to the succubus or the felhunter as a warlock. I’m assuming absolute “I don’t read or attempt to learn anything” status — It’s surprising how many people fall into that category.

    The PVP thing is actually really interesting, from a design perspective. You hear and see hunters being overpowered in battlegrounds, and they really have been since battlegrounds have been around. On the other hand, arena hunters have had design changes explicitly because they were too weak in that area. And it’s really kind of simple — the tracking ability that hunters have is indispensable, and their ability to handle melee attackers and to cut down on stealth, in addition to their general effectiveness against low armor targets — they’re pretty much good against anything, on a whole. Melee classes have to know how to get around their kiting, and ranged classes have to deal with taking tons of physical direct damage sources. Not to mention with their awesome toolset they can handle map objectives better than virtually every class, be it defending a flag in AB or snaring a group of players. Nowadays, trap launcher and frost trap in AV is probably the most hilarious thing you can do in most of the entire game.

    In the past, especially during the pre-release of burning crusade when characters were level 60 but had 41 point talents, the hunter reigned supreme in disorganized combat. It was overwhelming. I’ve capped every character class at some point and had some higher end geared characters in vanilla, but my marksmanship hunter at that point could frequently kill 3-4 of the then-“lesser” classes (some of the classes depended on too many early tier talents in other trees to be able to take their lower talents at level 60) without taking a serious hit in a battleground. My high-end warrior that was accustomed to killing something at 100% health through an intercept stun with his naxxramas loot? He couldn’t match the versatility of the hunter without support in the open field of a battleground. They had the tools to handle anything.

    Add in the arena and you’ve got a different game. Suddenly there’s no fight or flight determination; everyone knows how many opponents are going to show up. Everyone knows what kind of support is available on their faction, and quick to learn their enemies’. Combine that with an inability to seriously stymy healing, and only being able to deal significant damage after some period of standing still and focus firing, and you’ve got a weak class. That’s not even mentioning how much line of sight matters in arena compared to battlegrounds, and how easy it is for a character being focused by a hunter to kill all of their damage output by hiding behind something. Most of the relatively recent buffs to hunters were applied for these reasons, but that just makes them even more absurd in the lower level content when you can kill an individual with a few global cooldowns.

    All in all, hunters represent the best model of easy to learn, hard to master of all the classes — it’s just that mastering it isn’t really rewarding in any way.

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