Kill Command is the signature ability in the BM rotation but, unlike Chimera Shot and Explosive Shot, it can be used by all three hunter specs. Indeed, it can even be beneficial to use for MM and SV in some occassions, such as for some procs of the tier 12 four-piece bonus. This post discusses Kill Command–how it works and how to use it well.
The Tooltip and What It Does Not Say
40 Focus 100 yd range
6 sec cooldown
Give the command to kill, causing your pet to instantly inflict (849 + (RAP * 0.516)) damage to its target.
Your Pet’s happiness increases the damage done.
The pet must be in combat and within 5 yards of the target to Kill Command.
- In terms of the name on the dotted line, the game reads Kill Command as the pet’s attack and not the hunter’s. This means that threat and damage from Kill Command are both attributed to the pet. Using Kill Command will not cause the hunter to start autoattacks on the target or to gain credit for the combat when it comes to determining experience and loot. The hunter must independently start attacking the target to get such credit.
- Despite being the pet’s attack, Kill Command is on the hunter’s global and is paid for with the hunter’s Focus.
- Kill Command can be used from up to 100 yards away.
- KC does not require the hunter to be facing or in line of sight of the target. The hunter must still select the target, though.
- The “in combat” requirement for the pet largely means that the pet must intiate combat or otherwise be in combat with the target before KC can be used. Hitting KC will function as a command to start attacks if the pet is not in combat; KC will then need to be hit a second time in order to actually go off. Including a /petattack or a /startattack line in a macro before /cast Kill Command will normally achieve the same effect in one hardware event.
- Kill Command’s damage formula is based off of the hunter’s ranged attack power (note the formula in the tooltip). It is not based off of weapon damage or the pet’s attack power.
- Being the pet’s attack, Kill Command is subject to the pet’s crit chance (not something that I was able to test in depth, just as a heads up).
- Kill Command’s damage is not increased by the pet’s happiness since that quantity is no longer in the game.
- KC deals physical damage. Relevant buffs and debuffs apply.
- As a melee attack, Kill Command is subject to melee mitigation and avoidance (miss, Dodge, Parry, Block). The pet’s Expertise and Hit both match the hunter’s Hit chance in terms of percentages, meaning that Kill Command will typically not be avoided or mitigated if the hunter is Hit capped and the pet is behind the target. It appears as if the pet’s Expertise goes to the Dodge ‘soft’ cap and not the Parry ‘hard’ cap, though, meaning that if the pet for some reason or other is in front of a raid boss it can be Parried (and of course Blocked) even if the hunter is at the 8% Hit cap. For further reference on Expertise and its caps, see the Wowpedia article here.
- Kill Command is a special attack and so is not subject to glancing blow chances. The pet’s autoattacks are subject to glancing blows, though.
Using Kill Command Well
Think Like a Melee DPS
Though our player characters are ranged dps, our pets are melee dps. Their attacks, including Kill Command, almost ubiquitously require melee range. This makes it necessary for hunters to keep an eye to melee requirements and limitations in boss encounters. In recent expansions this ‘necessity’ has not lead to much work for hunters. Pets’ 90% aoe damage-taken reduction combined with the pet’s receipt of smart and aoe heals means that hunters usually only have to offer the occassional command for the pet to change targets (as on Valiona and Theralion) or to not stand in bad stuff (flame waves on Sartharion).
The melee range requirement on Kill Command has other effects as well. It sometimes makes using KC impossible, such as on Atramedes during his air phase. Melee distance also sets the pet at a different threshold for threat. Ranged dps generally require 130% of tank threat to pull agro; melee, including hunter pets, only require 110% by virtue of their proximity to the target. That is why it is so easy for specs like ret pallies and fury warriors to pull off the tank; not only do they have high burst damage from cooldowns but their threshold for pulling agro is only 110% of tank threat. The same can be true for our pets. If we pop cooldowns and MD to our pet by mistake, it’s not hard for the pet to pull agro if we start dps too early. Kill Command only makes this more likely because its threat resides with the pet.
Do Not Think of Kill Command as a Shot
To use Kill Command, you only have to be within 100 yards of your target, be able to select it, be able to have your pet in its melee range and have 37-40 Focus. A lot of the usual requirements that we have for our shots, such as line of sight and the 40 yard max range, go out the window. This opens up many possbilities for doing dps in restrictive situations, including for MM and SV. If you’re standing in a corner out of necessity (due to, say, having Lightning Rod) and no enemy target is within 40 yards, you can still continue dps with Kill Command and not let Focus go to waste at the cap. If you have to face away from the target, such as for Yogg, Kill Command lets you maintain higher dps than you might otherwise. If there is some debuff that punishes players but not pets for doing damage (such as Sindragosa’s Permeating Chill), Kill Command is again a workaround.
Keep Kill Command in Mind for Tier 12 Four-Piece Procs
The tier 12 four-piece bonus will occasionally allow us to fire a Focus-costing shot or Kill Command for free. See Frostheim’s post here for a nice write-up on the T12 bonuses (at least what we know so far). The reason that all specs might want at minimum to keep an open mind about KC for spending their procs is that it does more damage than Arcane Shot. Remember that Damage Per Focus (DPF) is not a concern for the free shot; what matter are raw damage and DPS. On these measures, KC is better than AS for every spec. Beyond that, MM should prefer Chimaera Shot over KC for the proc when possible; likewise for SV and Explosive Shot. Hardcast Aimed Shots are a bit up in the air. On one hand, they deal better damage. On the other, they have cast times and disrupt rotations a bit more. I plan to use them for the procs, but don’t take me as gospel on that point.
As long as I’m giving caveats, it’s also worth noting that I don’t raid as BM. If I’ve managed to leave out some important facet of Kill Command or you have any lingering questions or concerns about it, please leave a comment below.
previous Ability Spotlight topics:
- Explosive Shot
- glyphed Raptor Strike
- Hardcast Aimed Shot
- Tranquilizing Shot