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?