This time around we look at Misdirection. As usual with Ability Spotlight, we’re concerned with pve applications of the ability.
The tooltip reads:
100 yd range
30 sec cooldown
The current party or raid member targeted will receive the threat caused by your next damaging attack and all actions taken for 4 sec afterwards. Transferred threat is not permanent, and will fade after 30 sec.
How Misdirection Works
Misdirection is castable in or out of combat. It can be used on pets, party members or raid members. It can’t, however, be cast on enemies. Nor can it be cast on friendly npcs or friendly players that are not grouped with the caster. As much as it might be nice to MD the Lich King to Tirion Fording, it can’t be done.
MD requires line of sight on the threat recipient in order to be cast. However, once the spell is successfully set in place, MD behaves as stated in the tooltip regardless of whether the caster can see the recipient or not. This means that, yes, you can MD mobs around a corner so long as you cast the ability beforehand. It is also true that you don’t have to be facing someone to cast Misdirection on them, nor do you have to be within the usual 40yrd range of most of our abilities. MD can be cast on targets up to 100 yards away.
When used, MD creates a 20-second buff called “Misdirection” on the caster. There is no buff or graphic indicating the recipient. If the caster initiates a new source of threat during those 20 seconds, the Misdirection buff transforms into a separate, four second buff that is for some reason also called Misdirection. All threat that the caster generates during this four second window is transferred to the target of the cast.
The tooltip for Misdirection is misleading (ba-dum-ch) because it is not merely damage but any sort of offensive, threat-generating ability from the player that causes the first, 20-second MD buff to transform. This includes auto-shots and even non-damaging abilities like Ice Trap and Tranquilizing Shot. However, the trigger does have to be a new source of threat from the player for MD to activate. Preexisting dots won’t cause the 20 second buff to transform, nor will pet attacks. Kill Command is counted amongst pet attacks when it comes to MD because its damage and threat originate from the pet even if the hunter’s Focus pays for it.
The threat transferred by Misdirection fades after thirty seconds. It does not go back to the hunter; rather, it disappears as if it never was. This fading mechanic makes MD a bit like Last Stand. It serves a valuable purpose for a short period of time but is not permanent. This allows MD to be used as developers intended to buffer the tank’s threat and help the hunter avoid snap agro at the pull or on a newly-arrived add. However, the fading mechanic does rule out other uses for MD. It used to be that the transferred threat by MD did not fade, and this caused hunters to sometimes be tasked with using MD on cooldown in order to carry tanks on threat. This in turn would allow tanks to take lower levels of threat stats like hit and expertise in favor of taking more mitigation stats or stamina. I suspect that the fading was set in place precisely to prevent this tactic.
Using Misdirection Well in Groups and Raids
Misdirection is most helpful, both mathematically and practically, when agro has just been initiated. At this point the tank’s agro is at its lowest for the whole fight in terms of threat held relative to the dps and in terms of threat generated per second (Vengeance takes time to stack). Particularly troublesome during this time are initial misses that sometimes but unavoidably result from the tank not being hit and/or expertise capped. MDs are helpful for covering such contingencies. All of this belies the notion that MD is pointless because its threat fades. The tank gains much by having an MD at the beginning of the fight and so the threat fading has no bearing on the substantial worth of an opening MD.
The fading does mean, though, that MDs in the middle of the fight aren’t really helping the boss tank that much (and are often just a waste of a global). Instead, mid-fight MDs are better used on helping tanks pick up new targets. These MDs have the same advantages of opening MDs. They help to keep the enemies focused on the tank in spite of healer and dps agro at a time when a tank’s threat on those enemies is at its weakest. The fading also means that you can suddenly have agro if the tank’s native threat, at the end of the thirty seconds, has not exceeded your threat. It can therefore help to watch your threat relative to the buffer (via Omen or another threat meter of choice) in order to know if it is necessary FD proactively before the threat fades and the boss is on you.
An alternative (and perhaps more selfish) perspective on MD is that it is there to stop the hunter from taking agro. This is certainly an effect of MD and so we have to acknowledge it. An MD will let you open up earlier and harder on dps than you would otherwise be able to. Yet, this is just another away of saying that MD helps the tank to hold threat. Since Misdirection has benefits for the whole raid, a better way of looking at it is as a buffer to tank threat against all rivals including the hunter.
Using MD at the right times is not all there is to making the most of the ability. The amount of threat you transfer, and therefore the amount of help you provide with MD, will vary dramatically with the abilities you use during the four second transfer window. There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to this. The first is that it helps to choose your abilities wisely. MDing a dot application and a Kill Command won’t transfer much threat at all since KC doesn’t carry and a dot will generate most of its threat after MD wears off. Instead, you want to MD hard-hitting abilities like Chimera Shot or Explosive Shot or a string of Arcanes if your goal is to load threat onto the tank. As Frostheim noted in a recent Hunting Party Podcast, there isn’t that much of a dps difference in choosing to fire your Explosive Shot before your opening dots. MM is using Aimed Shots anyway. That leaves BM as the only spec that could be hurt by lumping more threat into the MD, by spamming Arcanes instead of opening with a KC.
Second, you want to be able to do damage throughout the whole MD window. If you start attacking the boss and then cast your Misdirection, your autos will trigger the buff transformation and you may lose up to a entire global during the MD window (the global triggered by casting MD). A better tactic is to cast MD before the pull so that the complete four seconds can be spent generating and transferring threat. This has the added benefit of not costing you dps once the fight has started.
Another part of using MD well is using it quickly. Manually re-targeting to the tank to cast it costs you both time and autoshots. I’ve written about faster means of Misdirecting at length before, and so in lieu of a long discussion here I’ll go over such means quickly. The goals with any of these methods are (1) spending no more time on an MD than the global used to cast it and (2) losing zero autoshots. The methods presented below each meet these goals.
First, macros. The macros below are roots in the sense that they can be combined and/or built upon. They also each have pros and cons. Hard coding requires changing the macro wording every time your raid changes tanks. Focus casting necessitates setting your Focus frame on a tank. The mouseover conditional requires, basically, being a keybinder. Target of target casting risks MDing to some healer the boss happens to be targeting for an ability when you MD. You also can’t used the target of target macro if the boss or add hasn’t yet targeted the tank. However, each method is better than manual targeting or not using MD.
- hard coding
/cast [@tankname] Misdirection
/cast [@focus] Misdirection
/cast [@mouseover] Misdirection
- target of target
/cast [@targettarget] Misdirection
Macros aren’t the only way to MD, though. Addons like Clique allow you to cast on a unit frame according to the type of mouse click you use. For instance, if you shift+right-click, you could cast Master’s Call on the target while shift+left-clicking could be assigned to Misdirection.
The fact that MD can be used well also means that it can be used poorly. MDing when the tank already has an insurmountable threat lead is just a waste of a global. MDing to your pet instead of the tank just makes it more likely that the pet will pull agro and die, particularly if you’ve left growl on. It’s also a waste of a global because there are better ways of avoiding threat than sending it to your pet during a raid.
previous Ability Spotlight topics: