Here at the end of Wrath I’ve been playing a couple alts, a tank and a healer. While learning about these other sides to WoW, I’ve come across a great number of hunters. I took notes because it was interesting being on the outside of hunterdom looking in. In this post I’ll go over some advice for hunters from a tank’s perspective and then from a healer’s perspective.
Hunters and Tanks
For the most part, hunters are nothing special for tanks. They offer the tank no significant buffs, no heals, no sharable defensive cooldowns. Hunters are mostly just a subtracted variable on an enemy’s health (important, yes, but also generic). Yet, “mostly” and “for the most part” understate the one capacity in which hunters can be incredibly useful or incredibly annoying to tanks: threat management. This is no small thing. Holding threat is one of tanking’s primary goals (the other is staying alive), and so a hunter who can push a tank through on threat is a tanks’ friend indeed. On the other side of the coin, hunters have enormous capacity to screw up on threat. We have no threat reduction built into our dps as other classes do, our abilities are largely both ranged and instant, we have pets, we have our own taunt . . . the full list of opportunities for threat fail is quite long. It is so long, in fact, that it is no wonder hunters carry the huntard stereotype: our chances to screw up are so abundant that, in terms of probability, I think we’re more likely to be failures than other dps even given equal skill. Noting this and speaking as a tank, I think that a hunter who can do dps and not steal agro or lose control of their pet is a good hunter. I’ve come to set the bar pretty low for hunters while tanking, and it always makes me happy to see that odd hunter who can top that bar.
Other Advice for Dealing with Tanks
- As Frostheim said a while ago, if you steal agro, it’s your fault. Even if the tank sucks, it’s your fault. This may not seem fair. However, the tank is already doing the best that he or she knows how to do (regardless of what that is), leaving you as the only person in the relationship who has the ability to alter the difference in threat. The tank can’t do more (at least until the fight ends and you can offer polite constructive suggestions), so you have to do less in some way or another. This can be accomplished by assisting, MDing, FDing (all of which you should be doing anyway) and simply not doing as much dps. It can be a tough pill to swallow watching your dps plummet because a tank is incompetent and/or undergeared, but it’s your job.
- Feign Death and Misdirect proactively. If you have agro, it’s too late and you’re provoking the tank and the healer to needlessly use global cooldowns on you. Even if you FD before the monster gets to you, if they’re any good the tank has likely already used a taunt and the healer has loaded you with a hot or shield. The cost of this in mana/rage/etc. is not as big a deal as is the cost in Wrath’s most-demanding commodity, time. The efficiency of gcd expenditures makes or breaks groups in tough fights, and you don’t want tanks or healers using their gcds on you when they could be better-spent elsewhere. And even when it isn’t a tough fight, an agro-incompetent hunter can still get me thinking like Batman: “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you.”
- Offer to CC, MD pull, kite, pet tank or use other hunter skills you are comfortable with when the tank does not know you. If you want it done and want to do it, you should speak up because these days a tank’s starting assumption is that you and the other dps are capable of no more than facerolling. It is a viscious circle where tank assumptions and dps behavior cement one another. The tragedy is that as the leveling experience gets faster and easier, the skills necessary for raiding and even running some heroics receive less or no practice. Pug raids these days are likely to be as skill-deficient a collection of gamers as you are able to find. If you count yourself among the proud few who can offer something practiced aside from callused cheekbones, speak up before that tough pull because the tank is only hoping you might MD before you Volley.
- For more advice infused with pent-up frustration at bad huntering, check out Lassirra’s post over at The Hunter’s Mark.
Hunters and Healers
As with tanks, for healers a hunter is largely just another negative value on a boss’s health. Hunters don’t make heals more effective, less necessary or less urgent overall. SV hunters do help with mana, but mana is not that huge an issue in Wrath and the hunter is not likely to be the only source of Replenishment (well, I don’t know your situation, but there seems to be a willing ret pally for every raid on my server). This lack of influence on healers is part of a larger truth that hunters and healers have very little to do with each other. Unlike the relationship of hunters and their tanks, hunters and healers simply do not concern themselves with the same things. While tanks and hunters mind the threat meters, healers play whack a mole on Grid (or a similar addon). While tanks and hunters strive to hit npcs, healers cast at players. They play a different game and hunters influence that game very little.
It is worth remembering, though, that while hunters may not have many positive values for healers, good hunters also have very few negative values. A good hunter can end up taking relatively little damage over the course of a raid or dungeon crawl. She can Deterrence off what others have to weather, Disengage over what others have to run through, and Feign away attention that others have to pray will be taunted off. A good hunter can be great about not needing big heals, and as a healer I appreciate this. I think a hunter’s worth is not merely measured in how high they are on the damage done tally but also by how low they are on the damage taken tally. A heal not spent on the hunter can be a heal that is used to save someone else or just buffer the tank, making the raid safer and smoother for everyone.
Other Advice for Dealing with Healers
- Helping healers can go further than simply not needing a heal. Hunters have a number of tools for dealing with adds (and healers like good add management). Hunters have high, ranged snap damage for quick burns. They can relocate adds via threat with MD or Distracting Shot. They can CC adds. Outside of threat, a hunter can also remove snares, add nature resistance and Tranq enrages. Altogether, the hunter is equipped to make the healer’s life a bit easier if he or she has a mind to it. If I see a hunter doing such things when I’m healing, I think “this player puts effort into keeping the fight going and the healers alive. He is now a higher healing priority than the other dps.”
- Don’t expect your pet to get healed. I heal pets when I can, but typically they are at the bottom of my priority list. My recommendation, then, is make it easy to use Cower, Mend Pet and Passive. A hunter can control those things when a pet is in trouble, but there is no guarantee that the healer is not occupied with something else.
- Similarly, don’t expect to be top on the list for extra heals, Innervates, battle rezzes or DIs. Hunters as a class are both self-sufficient and selfish, meaning that (1) they need special treatment less than other classes, and (2) the raid benefits more from sending special treatment to other classes. Stated differently, a side-effect of hunters being innately awesome is that they are often the lowest priority for sharable awesomeness.
- As a hunter you are not as efficient or easy to heal as you may think. Tanks are built around mitigating and soaking damage, meaning that it is enormously more efficient for the tank to be taking all the damage than the hunter taking any. Additionally, tanks are more likely to make use of all of a heal, making healing them additionally more efficient in terms of percent of the heal used. And what’s more, hunters stand at range and in many fights apart from other players out of necessity, meaning that hunters won’t get caught in group heals. This in turn entails that any heal (except cool stuff like Chain Heal) on a hunter will almost certainly be a specifically-targeted heal that only benefits that hunter.
If you have any other tips for hunters from a tank or healer’s perspective, please leave them in a comment below.