This is the first in a new series of posts on hunter abilities that are underused and/or misunderstood in PVE. Tranq Shot is an appropriate inaugural topic, I think, given its common absence from hunter bars and the renewed attention that Blizzard has given to non-dps abilities like interrupts and dispels in Cataclysm.
The tooltip reads:
20 Focus 35 yd range
Requires Ranged Weapon
Attempts to remove 1 Enrage and 1 Magic effect from an enemy target.
This may not sound impressive, but it is. Dispellable enrages and magic buffs on raid bosses are usually so powerful that getting rid of them is not merely helpful but necessary. A single well-timed tranq can be the difference between a wipe and a downed boss. Icehowl is perhaps the most well-known boss in recent memory where this was the case; he could obliterate even well-geared tanks if you didn’t tranq his enrage. Yet, thinking only of Icehowl doesn’t really do Tranquilizing Shot justice because it can remove magic effects, too. Just about anything you can use Spellsteal or Purge or Dispel Magic to remove, you can use Tranquilizing Shot on, too. Tranq Shot really is quite powerful.
So How Does It Work?
The tooltip given above provides the basics, but there’s more to be said.
- It removes only the most recent magic and/or enrage effect. For example, say you’re after a resto druid in pvp and he casts a Rejuvenation and a Wild Growth on himself, then you tranq shot, then he Lifeblooms himself, and then you tranq shot again. The first tranq will remove the Wild Growth and the second will remove the Lifebloom because those were each the most recent buff when a tranq was fired. The rejuv would remain untouched throughout because it was never the youngest buff during a dispel.
- Tranquilizing Shot removes one stack at a time when applied to a stacking buff. So, if you’ve let Maimgor‘s enrage reach three stacks, a Tranq Shot will only put the buff back down to two stacks.
- Tranq Shot works on genuine enrage abilities, not frenzies (that Blizzard wants to be healed through) or berserks (which are meant to wipe the raid if people take too long to kill the boss).
- It also only works on dispellable magic buffs, not all magic buffs (obviously). There are some things that will show up on a boss’s buff pane that you wish you could get rid of but which the raid just has to deal with.
- It won’t dispel friendly (to you) effects in the sense that you won’t strip some shadow priest’s dot off the boss.
- Tranq Shot can fire even when there is nothing to dispel. This possibility appears to be part of an across-the-board change to dispels for Cataclysm and means that, yes, you can waste Focus and globals on unnecessary or premature Tranq Shots.
- Tranq Shots do not initiate autoattacks. Note, however, that tranqs can proc Wild Quiver and so MM hunters can make no guarantees about being able to tranq without doing damage. This is largely only a concern for eccentric mechanics, like dispeling Arcanotron’s stacks when his shield is up.
- TS is on the global and its cost cannot be reduced. In other words, it’s not like an interrupt and has to alter a dps rotation in order to be used.
Before the Fight
If you are or might be on tranq duty, there are some things to think about ahead of time.
- Be hit capped. You want this anyway for dps purposes, so it should go without saying.
- Make Tranquilizing Shot easy to use. Put it on your bars. Keybind it (even if you’re a clicker, binding a snap-use ability like this can be helpful).
- Read up on boss abilities ahead of time to know which can be dispelled and which you’d be wasting Focus on.
- Whenever you see a fight description recommend Purge or Spellsteal, note that Tranq Shot will probably work too. Yet, also note that letting a mage steal an awesome buff is better than just tranqing it.
- Many fights have nothing you can dispel, so don’t be surprised if you find nothing to tranq in a fight description.
- Keep an open mind about the kinds of things that can be tranq’d. That heal over time that Maloriak puts on himself isn’t an enrage, but you can get rid of it nonetheless.
- Have a strategy for when targets other than the dps target need tranqing. Some hunters have found mouseover and focus macros useful for tranq targets that were not also dps targets
- Coordinate with other dispellers. On one hand, dispels can land even on clean targets and so making sure that only one reliable person goes after a buff will save your raid globals and resources. On the other hand, if the buff is so powerful that every millisecond counts, having more than one dispeller is probably not a bad idea or a waste. Regardless, it’s good to work out ahead of time who will be throwing dispels at what, who’s the backup dispeller, etc.
- This coordination tip goes for enrages, too. Not only might there be another hunter in the raid, but other classes can now dispell enrages, too. Rogues have Shiv and druids have Soothe.
- Don’t use the fact that other people can dispel to get out of dispelling. It is far better for you to tranq than for a priest to stop healing in order to dispel. Likewise, if your tranqing lets the rogue focus more on interrupts, so much the better.
During the Fight
There are also things to keep in mind for Tranquilizing Shot during the encounter.
- Stay within 35 yards of the dispel target (not 40 as with most dps abilities).
- Anticipate your shot by watching mechanic cooldowns and buff bars for the instant the buff is up. Waiting for the boss to be huge and red, for his health to start going up, or for him to start killing people (etc.) is waiting too long.
- Also anticipate your shot for truly crucial dispels by having a spare global and 20 Focus ready to go when the buff hits. This isn’t always possible or necessary, though.
- Communicate with other dispellers if something changes regarding dispels during the fight. You may have to step in on dispels or someone else may have to step in for you.
There will inevitably be things about Tranquilizing Shot that I forgot to mention or just never knew. If you know any of them yourself, please share what you know in a comment below.