The hunter is probably the easiest class to level in Vanilla World of Warcraft, but it is also the easiest to play poorly. With an upcoming fresh private server from Light's Hope and later the official WoW Classic servers, I thought it would be helpful to put some interesting tips together for playing the vanilla hunter well, especially while leveling. I don't see a lot of people using some of these techniques that I'm going to show, so it will definitely give you a leg up over some of the competition just by knowing about them.
First, I highly suggest you look at The Best Control Scheme for World of Warcraft. If you want to play well, you need to be able to control the game well. You should also look at my page on Advanced Hunter Macros for a lot of extremely useful macros. Now let's talk about other factors in playing a hunter well.
Levels 1-10 aka Learning To Kite
The early leveling of a hunter is tedious since you don't get your pet until level 10. While it's never taught explicitly, I believe the point of these levels is to force you to learn the basics of kiting. If you don't, you will get one ranged shot in before the mob is in melee range. And melee huntering is not fun. You learn fast to keep mobs out of your melee range as much as possible.
Unfortunately, what you will see most hunters do is shoot, backpedal, and try to get a second shot in. These hunters are doing it wrong. Backpedaling is slow, and there is no reason for a hunter to even leave it bound to a key.
What these hunters don't realize is that since you can attack mobs on your side, strafing away is the equivalent to backpedaling, but much faster. Therefore, shoot, strafe, shoot, strafe, shoot. You can usually take the mob down before having to melee this way, certainly once you get Concussive Shot. As a bonus, you develop great situational awareness so you don't aggro another mob, which is a crucial aspect of kiting.
Once you get your pet, it is simple to keep mobs out of melee range. You can just stand still and shoot away, but you should be moving most of the time between shots, either getting to a safer area or setting up position for the next mob.
The addon YaHT (Yet Another Hunter Timer) provides a visual cue that allows you to time your AutoShots perfectly to maximize your DPS.
If this sounds confusing, here is a video I found on YouTube demonstrating.
Try out all the different kinds of pets, some will suit your playstyle better than others. Leveling almost entirely solo, I started with high DPS pets, but I couldn't handle multiple mobs well. There are many places where you basically have to pull three mobs and I just couldn't manage it with a cat, but with a scorpid I had no trouble at all. I learned that I prefer an armored pet when leveling. Not only can I more easily handle unexpected situations, but I find the normal combat more engaging this way. I'll have my scorpid tag two mobs at a time, which means I have to manage aggro on two mobs, but I take better advantage of Multi-Shot and Serpent Sting. Let's face it, grinding through mobs can be tedious, but this gives another level of activity to keep things interesting.
Legacy-WoW Talent Calculator
Leveling a hunter is best done by going down Beast Mastery and finishing up with Marksmanship. The first time I played a hunter, I severely underestimated what the pet could do and maximized my damage output by going down Marksmanship. This was great for a time, but it doesn't take long before your pet simply can't keep aggro no matter what and the game falls apart. Instead, maximize your pet and it becomes a true partner. It can tank and hit hard. It feels like this is the way the class was designed to be played.
There are some things you can change depending on what you like. For instance, you could remove Spirit Bond and place one point in Bestial Swiftness and one in either Improved Revive Pet or Improved Mend Pet.
Many of the professions can be useful for a hunter, but the best combination is Mining and Engineering. There are just so many useful engineering items, plus you can make your own guns and ammo. Skinning and Leatherworking is an interesting option, since you can make your own armor. Unfortunately, you won't need the armor much at all since your pet will be tanking for you.
Leveling Fishing and Cooking comes pretty naturally because you will need food for your pet. Of course all classes should level First Aid to the max.
Getting your mount at level 40 takes 90g with your faction discount, which is very doable as a hunter if you follow these rules:
- Don't buy gear!
Hunters require little gear which saves a huge amount of gold compared to gear dependent classes. Only if you're having a really hard time should you buy any gear before you get your mount.
- Sell everything on the Auction House.
Use the aux addon to sell at the right prices. You will be shocked how much some white items will sell for.
- Easy Farming.
If you don't have quite enough, Hunters can easily farm to grind some cash. You have little downtime, so you can chew through whole areas quite easily.
These are just a few good tips that make you a much better hunter. If you haven't already, I highly suggest you check out my page on Advanced Hunter Macros. Hunters benefit so much from macros, it almost feels like cheating. It is an invaluable tool. Also make sure to check out The Best Control Scheme for World of Warcraft, which could revolutionize your game if you are struggling with the default controls.
You may also be interested in these World of Warcraft related pages: