Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pet Control: Part one - Attack, Follow and Stay

I first realized the importance of pet control way back in WoW beta, when a friend of mine (who was more intuitive about gameplay than I) asked why my low level hunter wasn't sending my pet in to attack mobs.

Prior to this, I had been using my pre-level 10 "rotation" of Concussive Shot, Serpent Sting, Autoshot and Raptor Strike when the mob came into melee range. Back then, of course, pets on Defensive only attacked when a mob hit you... so it wasn't until the mob was half dead that my pet came to help.

From then on, it was clear to me that learning how to make sure my pet was active and attacking a mob - preferably keeping said mob off my hunter at the same time - was a priority.
So: on to the content!

How to make your pet Attack, Follow and Stay:

The 3 leftmost buttons on the pet bar are Attack, Follow and Stay in that order, with the default keys being Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2 and Ctrl-3.

Now, unless you have an unusually-shaped hand (or perhaps have long fingers), these combinations are extremely awkward to hit as keybinds.

There are 2 ways you can change this to work.

Firstly, you can alter the default options for the Blizzard interface. This can be found by pressing Escape for the Game Menu -> Key Bindings, and scrolling down to Secondary Action Buttons 1-9. Pet Attack is actually given a second default keybinding, found further down and defaulting to Shift-T, which you can change as well.

Secondly, you can use macros.


Some people like to combine these commands with other spells so that their pet attacks at the same time as casting:

/cast Hunter's Mark

However, I don't recommend this myself, because I always prefer not to link spells (so I can cast Hunter's Mark *without* sending my pet in, for example).

Using Pet Attack:

Pet Attack should be one of your most-used pet spells, particularly in raids and dungeons or when grouping. You really want your pet to be attacking the main DPS target, which it doesn't always automatically do.

If your pet is on Passive, it will not attack anything unless you use Pet Attack. In this case, you will need to use this ability every time you change targets.

If your pet is on Defensive, it will automatically attack the first target you hit and switch to other targets if the first one dies. In this case, you need to be careful - occasionally your pet will NOT be hitting the target you want it to be hitting, so you still need to use this ability fairly often to make sure it's DPSing the right target.

This is especially the case in raids, where your pet will hightail it for a target that's casting spells, but you don't want it to be DPSing. For example, your pet will often want to whack Freya after an add dies, so you want to make sure it's hitting the next bunch of adds. In addition, your pet will follow Razorscale around after a group of adds has died and not be able to reach her while she's in the air - something you don't want to happen, as your pet will often end up standing (and dying) in blue fire.

Using Pet Follow and Stay:

Pet Follow brings your pet back to your side, but unless your pet is on Passive, it will run off and continue attacking, so I tend to just hit Passive for the times I want to recall my pet (Pet Follow is generally the default state). I only tend to use Pet Follow after using Pet Stay.

Pet Stay tells your pet to stay exactly where it is, meaning it won't run back to your side. This is extremely useful for different situations where you don't want your pet to be next to you.

For example, if you're pulling to a tank using Misdirection, you can use Pet Stay to keep your pet out of the way - particularly useful for a fight such as Auriaya, where there is a possibility your pet may be insta-gibbed by her adds if you don't get behind the wall on time.

Another important use is if you have to jump off ledges. Pet AI is quite advanced these days compared to what it used to be, but you still need to be careful in dungeons and raids (particularly in places like Gnomeregan where jumping off without dismissing your pet tends to mean your pet takes the long way around and pulls every mob on the way down). Instead of Dismissing your pet, you can use Eyes of the Beast, jump your pet down, use Pet Stay, cancel Eyes of the Beast and then jump down yourself.

Finally, one of my favourite uses of Pet Stay is when doing difficult soloing. You can use Eyes of the Beast to park your pet away from you, Misdirect mobs to it, run past the mobs and then Feign Death once far enough away from them, thus avoiding having to kill them. You can also put a Frost or Freeze Trap in between the mobs and the pet so that they'll be even slower getting to your pet.

Here's an example screenshot in Slave Pens of what I mean:

That's it for this section, stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The ins and outs of pet control

My proud "BM spec since beta" tag originally came about because when I joined my guild, I was horrified that pretty much all of the hunters had the attitude that their pet didn't matter (this was around the time of MC when you either specced MM or weren't taken seriously).

Having rolled a hunter partly for the pet, I put myself on a steep learning curve with the intention of teaching my guild a lesson - you *could* keep your pet alive in raids, you *could* out-DPS MM hunters as BM (particularly if they didn't bother using their pet) and you *could* do the Rhok quest as BM without any outside help.

So... I thought it was about time I did a series of posts on pet control. Some of this will be relevant to other pet classes as well, but for the most part it'll be from a hunter-specific point of view.

Part one will cover the 3 pet handling skills - Attack, Follow and Stay
Part two will cover the 3 pet "stances" - Passive, Defensive and Aggressive
Part three will cover general pet abilitites, including Ferocity/Tenacity/Cunning talents

These posts will be coming over the next couple of weeks, depending on how much free time I have.

Also, if there's anything in particular you'd like covered in these guides, please leave a comment/question and I'll try and address it - I may, for example, have additional post(s) covering family-specific spells (such as Prowl for cats or Shell Shield for turtles) if there's any interest.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hunter soloing vids

I haven't had time to do any challenging solo stuff on my hunter lately, since I've been spending some time on a lowbie priest duoing with a friend who decided to try WoW out.

I've definitely been missing the excitement of dying endlessly while working out how to do stuff though, so I've decided to give a quick update on other hunters that have been having fun:

Dysphoria and Haiatu I've mentioned before, but two other hunters that have been posting their soloing exploits more recently are Skhope of Icecrown (going by the name chanc6) and Tribunalx of Whisperwind (TribunalXHunter).

Skhope covers Attumen, Ahune, and various bosses of ZG and MC, whilst the more interesting vids of Tribunalx include soloing AQ40 trash for mount drops and normal Nexus (the majority of his vids actually cover a broad range of hunter topics unrelated to soloing, as he has his own general hunter blog).

Hopefully I'll get some time to kill these bosses myself at some point - I always make it harder for myself by being lazy and not respeccing out of my general raiding BM spec to buff the tanking potential of my pet, but I'm sure I can do it - Attumen is definitely one I want to try, since it'd be fairly quick to farm for the mount!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How to Hunterify your WoW experience

  • Pull mobs from the furthest your spell range reaches
  • When running from mobs, jump-kite (jump, spin between 90-180 degrees to face your target, cast and spin back before landing) to cast your instant spells (eg. Moonfire, instant Shadowbolts, Fireblast)
  • Strafe away from mobs (or around mobs, if they're hitting someone else) in between wanding/casting, without losing any time in between shots apart from the global cooldown

  • Back up until the furthest range the hit box of the mob allows
  • If stuck at range through snares/nova, use your ranged weapon at every opportunity, taking care to never run out of ammo
  • Back mobs away from other CCed mobs in between attacks to increase the distance the CCed mob has to run to get to you, thus keeping the CCed mob out of action for as long as possible

  • If jousting, strafe sideways immediately after a melee hit to use a ranged attack before the mob closes the distance

....Don't tell me you hunters don't do this on your alts. You know you do.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm not OC, just... organized

I'm one of those people that likes everything to be just so. I'm not quite OC, but it probably seems like I am at times, or at least mildly. For example, as of writing this post I have:
  • Achievements - 6840 points
  • Mini-pets - 87
  • Mounts - 82
  • Tabards - 1, but I've "collected" 25 for the Achievement on the tabard vendor
  • Novelty Trinkets - more than 2 bags' worth
  • Novelty or seasonal gear/items - 3 bags' worth
  • Cool-looking hunter-specific gear - 1 bag's worth
...with all of the items grouped together in appropriate categories in my bank.

My bags are similarly organized, with the first 2 bags taken up with consumables and useful gear (eg. fishing pole, port items), bandages and food in the 4th and spare gear in the backpack. Each item never moves from its appropriate slot, which means I can usually find everything straight away and won't vendor anything accidentally.

My bank alts have a different bag for each item type (skinning, mining, cloth, enchanting etc).

I'm sure I'm not the only neat freak/collector out there, because there are plenty of Achievement hounds with more points than me. I don't suppose I'll ever be able to catch up to them since my PvP skills, raiding opportunities and time is limited, but at least I can keep our guild bank tidy...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Resistance to change

After putting it off for more than half a year, I finally made the decision to transfer my 76 human warlock Allevia, formerly of Ner'zhul, over to Proudmoore to join my hunter.

Sure, Ner'zhul was pretty much dead for the Oceanic time slot, but I kept making excuses for why I wanted my warlock to be there:

  1. It's a PvP server, which is much more fun and challenging (well, I think so, anyway...) than a PvE server!
  2. It costs (gasp) real life money!
  3. There are people on Ner'zhul that won't be able to find me if I leave!

All good reasons. However:
  1. Being on a PvP server is great if you actually have people to PvP with/against... which I didn't, unless I logged on during US peak times on the weekend.
  2. If I feel like a gankfest, I can always log onto Frostmourne horde.
  3. I've subscribed to WoW for so long and I'm not totally broke.
  4. The people on Ner'zhul I met online won't remember me because I rarely play my warlock
  5. My RL friends who have characters on Ner'zhul a) don't have BC, let alone WotLK; b) decided that they don't like Alliance; and c) are more likely to re-roll on a different server when they re-subscribe for a month or so, since that's what they always do.... and I can always make a Death Knight.

So... why was it so hard?

I think the main reason is... I just don't like change.

I would never change my character's name (I was extremely happy that "Allevia" wasn't already taken on Proudmoore), I don't change my character's hair (I changed it back after getting the Achievement on my hunter) and I didn't like moving Allevia from what has essentially been her home for 4 years.

Am I weird? Perhaps. Blizzard didn't put in a barber shop on a whim. I do spend a lot of time at the character creation page, so maybe it's just that my characters are perfect already.

Or maybe it's because I kept accidentally picking the wrong talents for my Diablo 2 sorceress (you couldn't unlearn skill points in that game; you had to start over completely) too many times and never got over it...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Stars come out to play

And apparently, the best and brightest are in China.

Congratulations to the Stars guild, who managed to beat both Europe and the US to the Heroic: Alone in the Darkness Achievement while:

  1. Playing on another country's servers (Taiwan, while China's own WoW servers are stuck in limbo)
  2. Starting WotLK one week after the EU/US servers
  3. Doing it legitimately, unlike a previous false alarm

You have to hand it to these pro Asian gamers; they really are dedicated. I'm definitely looking forward to the upcoming 3v3 Arena competition at Blizzcon to see if the Koreans can repeat their success from competitions earlier in the year, or whether the US and Europe will fight for top placings as they did in Blizzcon 2008. In particular, I can see SK Gaming USA's RMP team as looking quite formidable after they took out both the Blizzard US regional finals and MLG Columbus.

Monday, July 6, 2009

You know you've done a good job when....

...someone randomly whispers you in the middle of a heroic VoA PuG and asks if BM is the new top DPS spec.

Obviously, it wasn't a particularly well-geared group - I'd usually be behind top DPSers in my guild as well as in PuGs (rogues and mages lately, although I'm never entirely sure whether it's because of the class or the players) - but at least I know that random will PuG with me again!