Especially now with the influx of lowbie alting SAN members, I thought a little guide to levelling a hunter might be a help.
One to Ten
The first thing you will encounter as a lowbie hunter is the pain of having no pet for 10 levels. You can spend 10 levels meleeing everything to death and perhaps mix in a few corpse runs, but if you watch where you’re going you can effectively kite and still be a ranged hunter. In my opinion, the second option is the most effective though of course it’s not exactly important at that level. Either way, shoot the mob, when it gets close to you run a bit, jump around shoot a little more, keep running, shoot a bit more and so on. You may like to check out Pike’s jump shot video.
Okay, so usually I will rush through to level 10 so there is no danger of me abandoning the character, I won’t lie, 1 to 10 hunter isn’t the most fun in the world. Once you reach level 10 you won’t immediately be able to tame a pet, first you will have to do a quest. Whichever race you choose, this will be: tame a particular beast, bring it back to me, 3 times, 3 different beasts. At level 10, sadly, you don’t have Freezing Trap, which makes taming a pet 10 times easier. You do get this ability at level 20 though, so remember to use it when taming any pets after that level. At level 10, perhaps pop a health potion if you need to.
When you’ve completed the quest you can choose a pet. My favourite for levelling is a bear. They are excellent tank pets, with not too terrible AoE threat and plenty of armour. Crocolisks are also not too bad for the same reasons. A lot of people go for crabs, which are tanking pets too, though they have a nice ability for PvP. Another decent pet for PvP is the spider, and if you’re looking to abuse the dungeon finder tool a fair bit you might even consider getting yourself a wolf. Though of course, if you want to tame something else, go for it. It won’t be as efficient but at the end of the day, this hunter is your character and you can play it how you want to. For a full list of tameable beasts, their skins, and where to find them, check out Petopia.
Another thing you will be getting at level 10 is talent points. I cannot stress enough that the best spec for levelling is by far Beast Mastery. Survival and Marksman are both fun, decent specs, and honestly you won’t beat them for PvP or instancing, but if you plan to quest, you can’t beat Beast Mastery. It is the fastest levelling spec. This is the spec I would go with for levelling, though of course there are many variations to this. If you would prefer to make some changes to it, or choose another spec entirely, feel free.
At level 15, your first glyph slots open up, giving space for 1 major and 1 minor glyph. Hunter glyphs in my opinion are not brilliant for levelling, a lot are based upon increasing the amount of time something lasts, which is great for mobs which last a long time but that’s not what you want to do. If you have trouble pet your pet a live and find yourself using Mend Pet a lot, I recommend the Glyph of Mending, which is also great for soloing. There is Glyph of the Hawk if you switched the 5 points in Endurance Training for Improved Aspect of the Hawk BUT if you didn’t, it’s useless. Glyph of Bestial Wrath might be worthwhile later on when you get the talent though only if you have a reason to reduce its cooldown. The only other option really is Glyph of Steady Shot, but this relies upon Serpent Sting being up on the target and you won’t get Steady Shout until your 50s. Can you see why my last hunter ended up using Glyph of Aspect of the Viper?
For your minors, I’d suggest taking Glyph of Mend Pet at 15, and Glyph of Feign Death at 50. The last one at 70 is entirely optional.
Spells & Shots
Ideally, you will be avoiding the need to melee. You will get Serpent Sting at level 4, you will need to determine whether or not it is worth the mana. Often it isn’t, but you might like the extra bit of damage. At level 6 you will get Arcane Shot which you will be using whenever it’s off cooldown. You will also get Hunter’s Mark at level 6, this increases your ranged attack power so it might be nice to type /m and create a new macro for your first spell slot:
/cast Hunter’s Mark
This saves having to click on your pet bar, in fact, for your second spell slot, make another macro:
1. Pet in. 2. Pet out. Concussive Shot at level 8, I feel I need to say this as I have heard of a few people thinking this is necessary, does not need to be used in conjunction with Steady Shot. Yes the tooltip might say the damage is increased if the target is dazed, but shooting a Concussive Shot will lose you more damage than you gain, it is unnecessary mana used. However, it is nice to slow targets who happen to be moving towards you, especially in PvP. Aspect of the Hawk is going to be your primary used aspect (next to Viper which should only be used for manaing up as it reduces your damage dealt by 50%) until you get Aspect of the Dragonhawk in your 70s. Multi Shot is also useful though be careful around large groups of mobs you are trying not to pull and crowd controlled mobs.
It’s A Trap!
Traps are another aspect of the hunter class which seem to scare and confuse people. There are 3 classes of trap: fire, frost, and poison. You can have 1 of each up at the same time, and Explosive Trap can be used for AoE pulls if you wish before you get Volley, which is similar to Blizzard or Rain of Fire. If you decide to spec Survival, it is important to remember that Black Arrow shares a cooldown with Explosive Trap and Immolation Trap.
Basically, Frost Trap and Freezing Trap are both very nice for controlling situations. Slowing people down in PvP, calming down “Oh shit!” moments, and crowd controlling. Immolate Trap and Explosive Trap deal a little extra damage. Snake Trap, well, obviously unleashing an army of snakes unto your foes. They have a chance to proc various poisons such as Mind Numbing, Crippling, which both slow the target (physically or their spellcasting).
A few notes based on the low level PuGs I have been in. First of all, you want a lot of agility on your gear. Stamina is also an okay stat, and a little intellect I guess won’t hurt.. (though that’s a little better once you get Careful Aim) but please, please, remember that strength, spirit, and spell power are terrible stats for a hunter. If you’re rolling on melee weapons, remember that they are stat sticks, so any ‘on proc’ abilities are going to be useless. Stockpile agility, let the tank do the pulling (and the tanking), and when you get Feign Death it is your friend. Make sure you have at least 4,000 ammo in your bags at all times, this way you shouldn’t run the risk of running out and having to go melee.
As a wise (well, I guess) man once said: “Go forth and pew..”