Even though many of the hardcore will scoff at Hunters, throwing around disparaging terms like ‘huntard’, nearly everyone has played one. While Blizzard keeps this kind of information close to the vest, the census information on the website wowwiki.com tells us that the most-played World of Warcraft class is the Hunter. Hunters have a lot going for them, and with the radical new changes in Hunter mechanics since version 4.0 released, there’s more than one reason to whistle up a pet and make with the pew-pew.
As every class in World of Warcraft, Hunters offer three talent specialization trees. Beast Master Hunters forge a special bond with their pet, allowing it to really pour on the damage and provide numerous buffs. Beastmasters can tame some of the more impressive pets in the game, which both looks cool and often offers a great deal of utility both for the Hunter and his group. Marksman Hunters are all about ranged damage, with a number of buffs to their shots. Traditionally, Marksman Hunters pour on more damage than the other two trees, although in recent times it’s been the third tree that has ruled Hunter damage charts: Survival. Survival Hunters specialize in traps and utility, but also have a couple really mean shots and abilities at their disposal. Regardless of the talent tree your Hunter chooses, there are still a number of great reasons why everyone eventually rolls a Hunter.
1. The pet. Pets give the Hunter a toolbox that no other class can claim. A Hunter’s pet a constant companion that fills whatever role the Hunter needs at the time. As a tank, the pet allows the Hunter to do what he does best: hammer the target with ranged fire with impunity. As a source of damage, the pet helps the Hunter mow down the opposition quickly and, in most cases, with the Hunter suffering little to no damage. Some of the higher-level Beastmaster pets offer raid-wide buffs that are highly sought after. Pets make questing go more smoothly, thus making the leveling process much easier. All that and you get to name your pet, giving you a fun creative outlet.
2. Traps. While too many Hunters never really find use for their traps, they offer an entire new dimension that really makes playing a Hunter fun. Traps offer crowd control, slow your enemies down (giving you a chance to rain fire down on them) or freezing them altogether. Other traps can do a considerable amount of damage. Simply put, they add to a Hunter’s survivability and damage output. There’s also a sort of personal satisfaction in watching a charging mob slowed to a snail’s pace by a frost trap.
3. Focus. Version 4.0 changed Hunter resources forever by removing a Hunter’s reliance on Mana and replacing it with the concept of Focus. While spellcasters burn a certain amount of Mana to cast their spells, Hunters now use Focus for their special shots. Focus regenerates gradually by itself, and can be recovered more quickly by executing a Steady Shot or a Cobra Shot. All Hunters have a maximum of 100 Focus. While this may sound like an insignificant change that borders on simply cosmetic, it relieves the Hunter of having to buff their Intellect (thereby increasing their Mana pool). It also means the Hunter won’t have to stop after every half-dozen encounters to rest and allow their Mana pool to regenerate. With Focus, Hunters are non-stop killing machines – mobs beware.
4. Fun! Let’s face it: while there’s a certain visceral glee in bashing your opponent into submission, and it’s fun to watch arcane spells burn your foes to the ground, there’s a certain style and panache to shooting down an opponent at range. Many heroes of literature modern and ancient were archers of great prowess; guys like Robin Hood and Legolas spring to mind. The folks at Blizzard have seen to it that rapid-firing a bow, crossbow or gun is appealing to both the ear and eye, and watching a mob or enemy player spring a trap is incredibly rewarding. Hunters are fun to play, and that’s why we play the game in the first place.
So whether you’re in it for a rapid leveling experience, the chance to really contribute in a group or raid, or if you just like shooting badguys down with extreme prejudice, you ought to roll a Hunter. While you may find that the class isn’t for you, it’ll give you a unique insight into another way to play the game, which can be invaluable in both group play and Player-versus-Player combat.
“With the right bribes, ANYTHING is street legal.” – Goblin proverb.