Playing a Beastmaster Hunter is so much fun when you’re leveling.

Along with the normal joys of picking what you want your companion to look like, naming him or her, and getting to choose what buff you’d like to run with, you get to keep your eyes peeled for those ‘gotta catch em all’ rares to tame.

You long time PvP enthusiasts also know the joys of having so many control options you can easily lose track.

Of all the times that I’ve played a Hunter, I know I’ve never really scratched the surface.

I’ve never gone into PvP with a carefuly planned out spec or pet, or practised all those situational player control and escape techniques.

I’ve also never really tried to build a spec and use a pet as a tank for content that was specifically designed with tanks in mind.

Molten Core is on my mind lately. I have soloed it with my Fury Warrior, but my Hunter is climbing the levels. Can I solo it with her as well?

Can I solo it even easier?

I decided to begin working on answering that tanking question for myself. I’m sure other people can do it; other people can solo two Cataclysm raid bosses. Other people have crazy mad skills.

I’m not other people, I want to know if I can do it.

It turns out I’m in a wonderful place to begin.

I’m in Dragonblight.

For those fortunates among you that don’t know what Dragonblight is like from playing characters through there 10 times, Dragonblight is a zone in Northrend for characters around levels 73-75, and it is famous for having a lot of “Gather a group of friends and go kill wandering boss X” style quests.

Just off the top of my head, there are these group kill quests;

  • An emerald bird boss (that I wish I could tame)
  • A Wolvar Shaman you have to knock off surrounded by some friends that come when you call.
  • A Scarlet Crusade General in a cathedral of worshippers
  • Another Scarlet Crusade Captain (or some such) standing at the top of a lonely watchtower still under construction.
  • A massive behemoth named Kreug Oathbreaker that wanders around in the middle of undead territory and LOVES to fear attackers.
  • An entire chain of Magnataur wandering bosses to take down, 5 in all if I remember right, maybe 6.

 I think there are others in the zone as well, I’m just kinda blanking right now.

That’s a real great zone to start thinking about having your pet tank this stuff for you. I mean, really tank it.

What I did was set a baseline. I took my kitty pet, Munchkin, and went after the emerald bird boss. I remember that one as a particular bitch to solo without heals.

Birdbrain has over 100,000 health, and although we gave it a good run, I couldn’t keep the pet alive and get the birt below 25,000 health on my first try.

Remember, the goal wasn’t to keep trying in a myriad of ways to do it; the goal was to set a baseline. “Here’s where I am with a kitty pet.”

I then went to Petopia to browse unfamiliar territory; the Tenacity Pets category.

My first instinct, of course, is to have a Bear. I’ve run with Bear pets before, they’re lots of fun. Not since the new patch revamp, though.

What I looked for were the pet skills. If I was going with a pet for tanking of group content, I wanted skills that would aid the pets survivability or mitigation, not do more damage. It’s MY job to control my aggro and stay under the pet. The pet has to live for me to win.

Perusing the list of pet skills, I was struck by how, of all of the Tenacity pets, only Beetles, Turtles and Bears had an actual damage mitigation or avoidance skill. Bears have Demoralyzing Roar to reduce enemy damage output by 10% for 15 seconds (with a 10 second cooldown, effectively up all the time), while Beetles and Turtles have a 50% damage reduction lasting 12 seconds, with a 42 second cooldown (in BM spec).

Decisions. A Bear with an always-on 10% damage reduction, or a Beetle or Turtle with a 50% reduction for burst use?

I decided to come out of my shell and try a Turtle. :)

I originally trained a sand-colored Turtle on the western shores of Borean Tundra to test the Talent Spec out, and once I knew I kinda liked the spiky little guy, I went to Dustwallow Marsh, where I tamed a very attractive Grey Turtle, the ones with a coral hue to their shell trim.

I leveled the pet up a little (can’t wait for the patch to remove THAT pain in the butt) and then went to the same Emerald Birdie, to test my new pet out.

My BM spec stayed the same, I just specced the Turtle into increased Dodge, Armor, Health and Growl to improve health and happiness.

I also shut off Cower.

I don’t run with Cower on my kitty, because I’m switching targets on the run ALL the time and don’t ever feel I need the damage reduction. Cower slows your pet down a LOT.

I wanted the test to be fair. In actual boss tanking, I would have Cower on auto for that 40% damage reduction for 6 seconds at a 45 second cooldown (costs no Focus), and I’d trigger Shell Shield to fire immediately after instead of overlapping. 

Anyway, my test on the Emerald Birdie.

I’d like to build it up to something impressive, but I can’t. It was no contest. My new buddy Koopa the Turtle was still at 100% full health when the Big Green Bird died. 

I’ve also gone and taken down a few of the magnataurs, the Scarlet Crusade Captain up on top of his watchtower, that sort of thing. No worries.

My next test is going to be Kreug. I’m looking forward to working out a way to handle those fears. :)

I’m pretty impressed. I messed around with a Bear pet back in the old days, but it seems to me there wasn’t such a sharp difference in performance back then.

Now, with the pet Talent trees, Shell Shield, all these customization choices, it’s pretty sweet.

What next? Dare I go into Karazhan and Molten Core for reals, me and Koopa?

If soloing with a Hunter Pet is your thing, can you tell me what kind of challenges at the 85 level you’ve had fun working out?

35 Responses to “The urge to tank is strong with this one”
  1. Minos says:

    Attumen in Kara was pretty easy to solo at 80, I bet you could do it a little earlier with some effort. For truly epic hunter soloing, you need to get yourself 2 pieces of Tier 5. The effortless pet healing makes up for the loss in stats.

  2. Dorgol says:

    The hardest thing I’ve hunter-solo’d was normal Halls of Reflection. Adds coming in from every direction during the first part, adds streaming in with an enrage timer in the 2nd part…

    I was able to solo the first part pretty smoothly using either a BM spec (with Spirit Beast for the heals) or a MM spec (with Chimaera for the heals). However, it took quite awhile before I figured out the “run away” portion of the instance. I had several occasions where LK would kill everyone while I was killing the final add.

    Ultimately I was successful using a MM spec, but it was a close call. I have yet to even THINK about trying that place on heroic.

    Side note: Heroic Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron are quite easy @ 85, though I had to abuse a bug to defeat the last boss in the Pit.

  3. sirfwalgman says:

    AQ40 Twins I think you can solo as a hunter with a Pet. That would be pretty interesting.

  4. John says:

    Now you made me interested. What Cata bosses have been solo’d? I tried doing some searches, but haven’t come up with anything. (The biggest thing is being a solo on the Magma adds, but that doesn’t count).

  5. Shatamall says:

    For hunter soloing, I’ve always looked at the WHU for idea of what crazy hunters are trying to solo. Never tried doing any of it (since my hunter didn’t have any of the T5 pieces). Apparently you don’t need them as much now with Cata level health pools and how Mend Pet and Spirit Bond work (off of total pet health).

    I think hunters are soloing Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle (both normal of course) so that gives you an idea as to what is currently being soloed.

    • Dorgol says:

      I bet the 2xT5 still isn’t useful – it’s healing you don’t have to cast, and it scales based on the amount of damage you deal. I’m considering going in and getting two pieces myself.

  6. Faeldray says:

    Back in Wrath, I tanked a couple of heroics with my warp stalker. I bought the lowest PvP gear for it and it worked pretty well, even if my pet was a little squishy. The thing to remember is that pets don’t have an especially large health pool or avoidance, what they do have is greatly increased healing to them.

    If you really want to know all there is to know about pet tanking, Big Red Rhino is the place to go. Some of his stuff like gears lists is still from Wrath but there’s still some good general information there.

  7. Shatamall says:

    Yeah, from what I’ve read, it’s handy to have around for some fights, but you don’t need it near as much now as you did back at 80. This is all second-hand though – I haven’t really done any extreme soloing (outside of doing things like 5 man quests solo and crap like that). Apparently, some hunters are soloing Leotheras in SSC without 2xT5. Go figure. :)

  8. scaresome says:

    I think a Turtle is a good tank choice, when I leveled my new Worgen hunter recently I swapped between my cat and turtle depending on the circumstances.
    I have a macro for my assist; typically I’ll use MD then Multi-shot then Assist my pet, reusing Assist on each new mob so they don’t get pulled to me.
    The extra Stamina is great in Cata, some pvp stuff for some added Resil might help.
    Feign Death is great for when you get in over your head (if you go into Utgarde Keep alone, the first boss; use Feign Death when the skele’s come in; they’ll run back out).
    Some hunters Dual-spec for extreme soloing.
    I have my Mend Pet on a macro so that it goes dark until it’s ready again, so I can see it and not just click and hoping it’s going off.
    Since it’s my pet and not another player, I can re-use MD over and over again. Sometimes if adds come after me, I’ll put down a snake trap at my feet and hit MD.
    I think level 77 stuff drops as Cata trash (78 for sure) so get that bad-ass gear as soon as you can to finish Northrend, it’s a breeze with the new cata gear.
    Feel free to try to solo dungeons and raids, it’s very wonderful and feels great.
    Go to the AH and buy Drums of the Forgotten Kings and the other one which heals the party (used to be the druid buff). Do it now, lol — useless at 85, but super handy while leveling hard stuff.

    I have it now:
    Drums of the Wild
    Restores 2000 health to nearby party members over 15 sec. Cannot affect targets level 80 or higher.

    Happy hunting!

  9. Kyre says:

    A while back, me and my husband were able to do most of normal Throne of Tides (3/4) and Blackrock Caverns (2/4) as an 83 Enhance Shaman and with him on his 82 BM hunter. No special gear, just quest greens and blues and the awesomely cheap jewelcrafting fists. I think the extra healing from Maelstorm 5 healing rain helped a lot on trash and Erunak, and I had to be really on top of interrupts on Naz’jar, but you might be able to solo Throne of Tides at 85. It should be noted that Ulthok is a pushover with a BM hunter pet tanking. I think its all the aoe damage reduction that pets get by default, and on top of that the magic reduction from the pet talent. It was so delicious to steamroll a boss.

    Was super fun. Well at least until we hit the “lack of enough aoe” brick wall that was the last boss in Thrones. Again, I don’t know if you can solo it at 85, but you can do very well with a bit of patience and another dps provided they self heal, bring interrupts, and limited CC. So its something you might try with the significant other. Oh and if you do, do brag to us all so we can add more to our list of stratagems. ^ ~

  10. solitha says:

    Alystros *is* tameable… or were you talking about just how hard it is to tame him solo?

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I didn’t know the Emerald Bird is tameable. I was just looking at soloing difficulty.

      As an update, I successfully soloed every remaining boss in Dragonblight, INCLUDING Kreug. And by being smart, i didn’t get feared into mobs. The fear effect gets triggered so damn frequently that I was only able to Bestial Wrath out of it once. Still and all of that, I can’t recall ever soloing Kreug before.

  11. xiani says:

    My finest achievement with a BM hunter & turtle pet was taking down Kael’thas in heroic magisters terrace, back at level 80 when it was still a bit challenging.

    My turtle is now of course named ‘Setback’.

    By that point I had gotten hold of the famous 2-piece tier-5 bonus that heals your pet for 15% of your damage though, which certainly helped:

    http://www.wowhead.com/itemset=652

    Had great fun running Serpentshrine and Tempest Keep to get that stuff as well.

    Also:

    http://www.wow-petopia.com/look/ancientseaturtlefire.html

    the skin description is ‘on fire’. You know you need it…

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I have heard a lot about this ‘Tier 5 two piece”, but even with my other hunters never went after it. I think it’s time I did. Thank you for giving me a link to where to find them.

  12. Tesh says:

    BBB, you are truly a man after my own heart. Great article, and maybe someday, I’ll follow in your footsteps here. I do so love soloing with a BM hunter where I’m not supposed to be able to. :)

  13. Elsi says:

    Did they make that big emerald boss bird in Dragonblight untamable? Because back in Wrath several hunters (myself include) went on a taming mission for that bird. I’ve since released him, but I’m surprised you can’t tame him. I know you can tame the non-elite emerald birds in that area though, if you like the look.

    • Elsi says:

      Replying to my own post. Petopia says the emerald bird is tameable. If you want it BBB have at it! And grats on downing him with your turtle!

  14. Parbear says:

    Just an FYI BBB. You can leave cower on auto, it doesn’t auto-cast until your pet’s hp reaches about 40%, so you don’t have to worry about the pet popping it all the time and moving like molasses.

  15. Nimizar says:

    The big reason Tenacity Pets rock so much these days is the change to Mend Pet to scale with pet health. I personally use a Shale Spider as my main tanking pet (love the +5% to everything, although you can’t grab one of those until level 83), but there is plenty of raw healing packed in to the Tenacity tree to cope with incoming damage:

    Healing Abilities
    1. Mend Pet: 25% health every 10 seconds
    2. Spirit Bond: 2% health ever 10 seconds
    3. Silverback: 2% health every 5 seconds (Growl CD)

    Base healing rate: 31% health per 10 seconds

    Healing increases:
    1. Glyph of Mending: 60% increase in Mend Pet effectiveness
    2. Spirit Bond: 10% increase in healing received
    3. Blood of the Rhino: 40% increase in healing received

    Combined increase: 146% (1.6 * 1.1 * 1.4 = 2.46)

    Effective healing rate: ~76.4% health per 10 seconds

    At lower levels (i.e. without Silverback), the Tenacity healing rate drops back to 66.5% per 10 seconds, which is still quite impressive.

    Without Blood of the Rhino and Silverback (i.e. a tank-specced but non-Tenacity pet), the healing rate falls to only 41.6% of the pet’s health being recovered every 10 seconds. (Ferocity pets do get Bloodthirsty, so their numbers are a bit higher than that, but it still doesn’t compare to the combined effect of BotR and Silverback).

    Add in the additional 10% armour and 2% Dodge change from Pet Barding, the elimination of critical hits via Grace of the Mantis, and Thunderstomp for AoE threat… yeah, Ferocity and Cunning pets just don’t compare with the real tank pets :)

    Furthermore, most people are less likely to spec full Great Stamina and Natural Armour for their non-Tenacity pets, so there may be differences of up to 10% in armour and 12% in health just from that.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      With your permission, I’d like to post this comment as a post with credit because that was a great write up of the healing bonuses of a properly specced Beastmaster with a Tenacity pet. I know I find it helpful to see how you’ve broken it down all at once.

  16. Kemonojin says:

    Beastmaster FTW! To deal with the fear, you’ve got two ways; Bestial Wrath makes both of you immune to fear while it’s active, and Intimidate, a 3 second stun. The pet should be nearly immune to fear, but between the two of those and the damage output of a Cataclysm hunter and pet, you should have him.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Whupped his butt first time out the gate, Kemonojin! Now I just have to follow everyones advice and go get me that Alystrios.

  17. Saturnia says:

    I am probably what you would call a “Glutton for Punishment” soloist Hunter.

    I solo in SV spec.

    To date, I have soloed all of AQ10, everything up to Twins in AQ40 (except the slime boss, you need frost attacks to kill him, and if Twins are soloable by a Hunter, I haven’t managed to figure out how yet), All of MC (Rags went down like a b*tch. Hardest boss is the Harbinger, since he’s got 4 healers), KZ to Chess (Medivh cheats like a MOTHER!), and the first boss of Mount Hyjal.

    I’m sure if I respecced BM, I’d get farther, but I really don’t like BM.

    • jetamio says:

      for twins i believe there’s a way to only attack one and have the other stay out of combat. And since the hp pool is shared you only need to kill one and they both die. if i’m wrong then i’m wrong. another way of soloing twins (just a thought of how it could be done) put your pet on one side of the room, you go to the other, have a macro to pull the pet to where your at for the teleports and run to where your pet is at.) your pet prob needs to stay on the one immune to magic and prob go sv spec for the elemental damage or bm and spam cobra and acrane with bw up when you can on the other boss. the trick is to keep them apart and using the t5 2pc might be a must. give it a try and let me know if it works or not.

  18. Kattrinsaa says:

    If i ever get back into the game, I might see what my hunter can do solo.. he’s an engineer, several neat toys to add to the mix there.. but i never did manage to get any decent gear for him.. spent too much time on katt.. liked the playstyle so much more.

  19. Grim says:

    My hunter has Ghamoo-ra (and named as closed to that as I could!) and I’ve been having fun running with him through BC era content and earlier. With Camo at 85, places like Heroic MagsTerrace are a breeze since you can just go all sneaky sneaky past the vast majority of the mobs. Of late, I’ve been doing Kara as well (yay for completing the key quest!) to try and get THAT mount into my collection.

    Given the other posts in this thread, I’m debating having at SSC and seeing about getting 2T5 for some really epic fun.

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