The great Retcon

When I first got the game and began leveling up I remember distinctly being told that the game began at 60. Raiding was where it was at, everything else was merely hurdles to overcome to get there.

Obstacles placed in the way by the games designers so that only the worthy would persevere through it all.

Raiding was the real game, everything else just got in its way.

I bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

 

I started that day looking at all the zones and quests starry-eyed, filled with wonder, like I was part of a story that was ongoing. I was happy to be where I was, discovering things as I went.

Once I bought into the game starting at the level cap that all went away.

Leveling up was no longer fun, it was an obstacle in my way. Less a lore filled joy to experience and more something to simply get through as efficiently as possible. So I turned on instant quest text, grabbed some addons, and started smashing my way through.

 

I no longer looked at each quest, I didn’t have to.

The arrow told me where to run.

The mousover told me what to kill.

The sparkles told me what to gather.

Then the arrow told me where to go turn it in.

It was fast, efficient, and boring as hell.

No one likes doing chores, and that is exactly what leveling had become.

I look back on it now and realize I was wrong.

 

The game does not begin at the level cap. The game begins at the character creation screen.

I would hazard a guess and say that 95% of the content of the game has to do with something other than the level cap.

There are stories out there, great stories, just waiting for me to be a part of them.

Unfortunately I already did them, blazing through with quests unread, just following the arrow under my feet.

I didn’t just kill critters as I quested away, I killed a huge chunk of the game for myself.

 

That’s why I am so looking forward to Cataclysm, it is going to give us something people only dream about in real life.

A fresh start.

A chance to live out the dream of  “If only I had known then what I know now.”

 

Cataclysm is going to be just that, for me at least.

I plan to roll a shiny new character, currently planning on a druid, and turning off all the helpers.

I will read the quests and follow the story where it leads me.

I am not even going to spoil the new areas by blowing through them to get to 85. With the new Looking for Group tool I can instance my way through those five levels on my level 80′s without ever leaving town.

Most of all I will keep in mind that leveling is not a chore to be done, nor is it an anchor holding me back.

It’s 95% of the game, and I plan to have fun with it.

Of Beastmastery and Tenacity, and why I went there

Somehow a lot of my posts start out with “So, I was poking around online….”. Kind of like most of my really funny stories from my military days start with “So, my friends and I were in this bar in (fill in countries name here) minding our own business…..”. I won’t go in to any of those now, perhaps another day.  Today I talk about pet talent choices.

What the hell does all that have to do with a pet spec you ask?

The real answer is that after looking I was no able to find much in the way of “premade” pet specs.

Now I don’t claim to be some kind of Hunter guru, I have not taken one to sunwell, nor have I done arena with one. I have not soloed world bosses or even dungeons harder than Black Rock Depths (runecloth farming ftw). One thing I have done though is level. I have leveled two Hunters to 70 already and am currently working on a third who is 56 as of last night. So I decided to put down the specs I plan to use for leveling just in case someone may be interested.

For starters I leveled one of my 70′s Marksman and the other two Beastmastery. I plan to level through WotLK as Beastmastery on all three. Assuming I go back to my retired Horde Hunter and level him, Otherwise it will be all two of them. Second, I tend to level solo for the most part. I quest my way along to the level I want to ba at and worry about gearing up and respeccing once I get there.

 

Pet Choices

Let me say this, you can level with any pet you feel comfortable with. There is no “best leveling pet”. Back when I leveled Marksman there was, I leveled with a boar and loved it. After the great boar nerf I decided on a cat as my leveling partner with my second Hunter. They are still together today. That being said I have run with both a cat and boar at 70 as well as leveling with a gorilla. The gorilla is hands down more fun, at least for me.

 

Talent Choices

Occasionally I am kind of vague. This is odd since according to my wife I am about as subtle as an asteroid impact. I am not going to even try and be subtle here. If you take away nothing else take away this comment.

You and your pet have one, shared talent spec.

Do not think of your spec and your pets as separate, because they are not. Like no other class in the game we have a real symbiotic relationship with our pets. The choices in each spec reinforcing those in the other. The way I see it there are nine different possibilities. Beastmastery/Tenacity, Beastmastery/Cunning, Survival/Tenacity, Marksman/Ferocity… you get the idea.

Is there one “magical” talent spec for everything? No.

That’s why I am just worrying about leveling at this point. I intend to level one of my hunters Beastmastery/Tenacity and the other Beastmastery/Ferocity. The reasoning is simple. At level 80 one will be raiding and the other farming. One uses a gorilla named Thumper to aoe grind and farm things. The other uses a cat named Shadow to do dps.

 

Beastmastery/Tenacity

I intend to start at level 70 with this spec for my hunter and this one for my gorilladin. I will build it towards these builds at level 80. This is the Hunter that will be my soloing farmer at 80 and some of those talent choices reflect that. For instance, I skipped Cobra strikes, Go for the Throat, and Invigoration.

Why you might ask?

Well, I am soloing with my gorilladin and the only pet special abilities I use are growl and thunderstomp. Since I find that with just Beastial Discipline I have enough to growl and thunderstomp every time its up I don’t need Go for the Throat. Cobra strikes? It procs off of Arcane, Steady, or Kill shots. When I am running with this combo I rarely use those, plus I have few pet specials running so it really does not benefit me. Invigoration? more of the same. If I am not going to try critting with my pet these are points better spent elsewhere.

This whole build is designed around AOE tanking with Thumper. I do the damage through Multi-shot and Volly, he keeps them occupied while I kill them. I use this very effectively already at level 56, often tanking 4-5 mobs of equal level with ease. The way I do this is the main reason I picked the glyph of Hunters mark and the glyph of Multi-shot.

My general tactic is to grind in threes. I will grab up the first mob and let growl hit. Then I will run to a second, letting growl go off again, then I will run him over to the third mob, growl and thunderstomp. With the glyph of mulit shot I find the cooldowns line up nicely. Thunderstomp, Multi-shot, Volly, Thunderstomp,  repeat until you run out of mobs.

My mana usage is such that about every 4th trio is done under Aspect of the Viper, the rest are done under Aspect of the Hawk. Running this way I can grind almost indefinately without stopping to eat or drink, and by pulling only three I rarely even need a mend pet before they are down.

Are there better ways to do this? Probably, I am sure there are as many different ways to do things as there are hunters out there. I just wanted to share what works for me.

 

When I started out on this topic I thought I would get it all in one post, now I see it would be a bit on the ginormous side if I tried to do that.  I will come back in a day or two with the Beastmastery/Ferocity build I plan to use on my second Hunter.

Until then,

Good Hunting.

The view

I look like a rodeo clown, gotta love quest rewards.

Because sometimes you just have to stop grinding out experience and enjoy the view.

 

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where in the world (of warcraft) this is.

A cop out post.

After seeing how much traffic the post I made several months ago about gearing a fresh 70 hunter continues to get I decided to start a project to revamp the list. I wanted it to be more flexible and more inclusive of the easy to get gear. None is “best in slot” by any means but it should get the job done.

The project is just getting off the ground at the moment, so bear with me it will get updated further.

I tabbed it as a new section on the header or you can follow the link here. So if you have a minute wander over, take a look, and let me know what you think.

A fundamental lack of loyalty

Yes its early,

Its both early in the morning and very early in the beta testing. As was so eloquently pointed out we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 months before WotLK finds its way into live servers and until then (indeed even after) everything is subject to change without notice.

The proposed changes to hunter pets are for the most part welcome. I think the whole Talent tree thing is a particularly great idea, but I sincerely hope that the respeccing cost of a pet is either free or nearly so. Am I being greedy? Wanting it all? Hardly, read on.

One of the other proposed changes is removing pet loyalty. Pet loyalty was always a bit of a nuisance, especially at higher levels it would take forever to get to be “best friend” to your pet. It really did need to be reworked, however I would have liked it to stay in the game in some form.

While I think both of these are good changes in their own way, I think I may see a bit of a issue in how they would interact both with each other together with minimal stable slots open to hunters. I think can already see the dawn of the “disposable pet”. Not a temporary pet you grab to go learn a skill but a full fledged throwaway pet.

Lets assume that there is available in the game a level 80 cat of some sort. I would say that is a safe assumption, but that’s all it is. Why tie up a stable slot with one? Why pay to re-spec?  If you need a cat go grab a cat. Tame complete *bam* instant best friend. Spec for what you want to do and throw it away when you are done. There is even the possibility with a little planning of using “Tame beast” as a form of crowd control in instances, similar to the way enslave or mind control is used to pull one enemy from a group and have it fight for you. The difference would be that It won’t wear off.

Everything I see can in fact be used as an advantage. I am not really complaining just thinking out loud. I am pondering weather taking away pet loyalty to the hunter coupled with a lack of stable slots serves to take away the hunters loyalty to the pet, and if so how I feel about that.

I suppose I can keep two pets that I actually needed to put a few levels on in the stables and keep one slot open for the pet of the day. I could but I don’t think I will. My pets are not throw aways to be used up and discarded. I am not a Warlock.

Something to ponder as I watch the calendar slide past towards release day.

A pet like any other

So here I am thinking again. I really should work on putting myself on autopilot in the mornings. Then again, where would I be if I lost my morning ramble?

Today I was thinking about why I enjoy the hunter class so much and just can’t get into the warlock. On the surface they sound very similar. Both are mana using ranged DPS classes. Both have pets. Both have crowd control functions. Both lose a bag slot to either a quiver or shard bag. If I enjoy one I should enjoy the other right?

Well, I don’t. The warlock just won’t click. They are so similar and yet not. Then it came to me, its not the character I can’t get into its the way they deal with their pets.

Look at the differences. A warlock has a minion, a hunter has a pet. It seems like a little thing, but the difference is huge.

 

 

A minion is summoned, pulled away from his “home” on another plane and forced to fight against their will.

A pet is tamed, it shares the adventuring and the leveling. It has it’s own talent tree and its own skills. They are not forced into what they are doing, they are partners.

A warlock actually has a spell to sacrifice their pet. Did I hear myself correctly? They kill their pet on purpose? I still can’t wrap my head around that. I have seen hunters, myself included, stay with their pet and continue to fight long after they should have given up an run.

Some of my best moments in the game are the fights that my pet and I managed to pull off when we should never have been able to. A good example happened last night.

 

 

With Drupadi, my level 45 hunter alt, I was questing in the Hinterlands. We were trying to solo the robot chicken escort quest. It was going very well right up until the end. Just before the last group of trolls appeared two stealthed wolves attacked. We managed to get one of them down before the three trolls spawned.

We took on the trolls and the wolf , with a bit of trapping, a big red cat, and a bit of dancing around we got down to the last two trolls and they both ran. One down fast but the second grabbed two more of those stealthed wolves. There I stand, cooldowns blown, low health, out of mana, with three more to go. Do I feign? Run? No, I decide to take the troll with me on the way to the graveyard. I pop the troll as the wolves get to me……Ding…..what do you mean I am not dead? Woot! I have mana! Trap one kill the other then take the trap.

Looking around I realized I had just taken a 7 mob chain pull all at least 2 levels higher than me.

I think the difference between the two is that a warlocks pet is an extension of the warlocks abilities. A hunters pet is less an extension and more a part of the character, almost a character in their own right. That is enough of a difference for me I guess.

The way I feel about the pets both in real life and on my hunters could be summed up by an article written long ago much better than I could put it, so here it is.

 

 
MAN’S BEST FRIEND

A Kentuckian’s Tribute

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away, there by the graveside, will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death

Text is from a pleading that Senator George Vest made to a jury in Missouri in the fall of 1880. Full speech and details can be found at www.dogreader.com

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