I knew it was coming.

My heroic Bot run wiped last night because the wrong mob hopped into my trap, and the mob I had JUST TRAPPED suddenly running around beating on people. Oh, crap! The mob that had gotten into my second trap was also pretty much instantly free, since it had already been DoTted. I couldn't apply my dps to any target effectively, as I was busy kiting the mob that should have still been trapped while waiting for the other 25 seconds of my cooldown to be up. After 25 seconds of scatter, petattack, concussive, auto, arcane, wingclip, run like hell, wingclip, raptor strike, runrunrun, arcane, the healer was low on mana, I was low on health (those heroic bot mobs hit HARD), and the offtank bit it while I was kiting.  The freed mob came right over to join the "beat on Elenna" club, and I died right after I put the trap down. No more CC meant that in 10 seconds when that trap broke, the mob went straight for the squishies--game over. Well, what the heck broke my trap? I found out after I logged for the night.  Enter the Stealth Nerf. Here comes the blue post:
This was another bug fix that unintentionally didn't get into the patch notes. It's getting added in now in order to clear up the confusion. Here is how the note actually reads:

 • Fixed a bug in which Hunters were able to use Readiness in conjunction with Freezing Trap on two different targets. Being able to double-trap was not intended to happen so the bug has been corrected.
As always though, constructive feedback on changes are always welcome. What should happen is if you trap another target, the first trap should release much like what happens when a Priest Shackles Undead or a Mage Polymorphs a target.
Wait a minute...the first thing that comes to mind is the lack of a 30 second cooldown on Shackle Undead and Polymorph.  The second this is that now if a feared/badly controlled mob or an add runs into my trap, I'm losing the 5 sec or so of cooldown/"oh shit" time I had to get ready to kite that mob when the trap broke. It's not that I can't still chain trap, I got compliments on my trapping in that group and the Mech run I did right after, but no question it just got trickier.  The kicker? This applies to Readiness, too.  I'd be seriously pissed if I were a SV hunter.  Okay, fine. We move on to the first boss. We're fighting along, and then Fang's happiness ticks down from green to yellow. Uh oh, we're losing DPS, here. Fang goes on passive, FD, Feed Pet. Wait...still in combat? WTF. Once again, enter the blue post:
Just so everyone[sic] aware, there was a bug fix that unintentionally didn't make it into the release patch notes, but has been added into the bug fix listing on the forum as well as is being added onto the Web version of the patch notes. Here is the actual note for you in regard to this-

• Fixed a bug in which Hunters were able to disengage from combat using Feign Death during boss encounters.

Please note that this should only apply for when you are engaged in a boss fight and shouldn't affect trash mobs.
Faaaaaaaaaantastic.  First of all, trash pulls are so long that I'd need to feed my pet?  When do I go OOM on a trash pull?  Okay, moving on a bit.  I'm not saying that Hunters should be able to swap gear mid-fight, but I'm surprised to learn that drinking or feeding our pets has been "bugged" since Beta.   

Let's get this out there: Hunters have crappy mana pool and crappy mana regen.  If I want to take a drink for 5 seconds while Moroes is vanished, I don't think it's breaking the game.  If I want to blow a cooldown to get my pet's DPS back to normal after I rez her, I don't think it's breaking the game.  God forbid your pet die twice now, you can only rez once--if he/she dies again you don't want to rez them because now that pet is pissed off. 

I can't use enervate, I don't benefit from melee combat buffs, I can't make or carry a mana gem, I'm usually not in a group with VE, and when I'm DPSing I burn through my mana pool quickly.  I shouldn't have to respec BM and/or make sure I'm in the caster group to DPS a raid.  I really shouldn't.  Yes, as a MM hunter, my Aspect of the Viper is better than that of the other hunter specs since I'm more likely to stack Int, but at the end of the day, a MM hunter is going to use more mana anyway, and I've blown gem slots on gems with Int and mp5 because I have crappy regen. Regardless of spec, the truth of the matter is that AotV is lousy mana regen, and it comes at the cost of some major DPS (AotH).  And before anyone starts thinking I'm cheap, I always bring stacks of mana pots, and I always end up using them, but that cooldown's a killer.

Can I still be effective as a Hunter?  Almost certainly.  Am I going to reroll? No.  Am I annoyed? Well...yeah, I am.

It's an interesting coincidence that the two nerfs to the Hunter class just happened to be "bug fixes" that somehow "unintentionally didn't make it into the release patch notes" AND were not live on the PTR at all.  Come on, Blizzard, man up and own up to the Nerf.  Or at least the stealth nerf. 

In which we apply Expose Weakness to hunter myths.

We all want to be better hunters, and thus we all sift through the almighty internets for tips, tricks, and educational materials. And it works: there's some really great info out there! Unfortunately, as is nearly always the case with the internet, in with all the thorium ore and blue gems you find, there's some really crappy vendor trash in there. Myths abound, and lots of them revolve around the Hunter class (Nelf hunter=retarded chipmunk on crack, for one). I keep seeing this stuff scattered around in the Hunter forums, in blog comments, and in-game, and it's time to clear the air around here. Let's hit the top five.

1. "Beast Mastery pwns all!"
Aagh, this is the one I that drives me nuts. What are we talking about here? Pwns all at WHAT? Melee? Definitely. Will a BM and SV hunter performing at the top of their spec put out the same DPS? Probably not. Will a good SV hunter out-CC a good BM or MM hunter? You bet your bow. Can a good MM hunter out-dps a good BM hunter? YES. The bottom line here is that a spec is only as good as the hunter who's using it. A good hunter will always outperform a mediocre hunter, no matter what spec either one is. Good ALWAYS trumps mediocre. I have never been shamed by BM hunter in a raid. Does this mean my spec is better? No, it means I've put a lot of thought into my spec, and I've been using it for a while. Will a hunter who's been BM for 20 levels put out the same level of DPS right after they respec to MM? No. It's about how you use your talents, and how you work the shot rotation. Note well that if you're looking only to the damage meter to tell you what your value to a raid/party/arena team, you're doing it wrong.

2. "MM is only for PVP/only for raiding."
This myth goes both ways. This in itself should be a clue to the fact that it's utter crap to say a spec is only for one thing. I don't know why people seem to feel that they must pidgeonhole specs like that, but the truth is there will always be more than one application for a talent tree! That silencing/scatter shot works just as well on Moroes' adds as it does on that pesky priest in arena you want to shut down and take out, and also works on that annoying Blood Elven Manaforge mob in Netherstorm who's fixing to flamestrike you.

3. "The Survival tree is worthless."
The disregard for the SV tree that people seem so attached to boggles my mind. SV is absolutely a viable spec, and all that +crit certainly helps them keep their DPS up there. Plus, the utility of the SV tree (you'll hear that word a lot connected to this tree, but it's just so darn appropriate). The SV tree is full of all kinds of useful tricks and skills that have the potential to make you one hell of a hunter. Don't dismiss the Survival tree, my brother and sister hunters: there's some really worthwhile stuff in the SV tree, especially for PVP (Surefooted! Trap Mastery! Wyvern Sting! Readiness! That stuff is so good it hurts, and it also translates well into PVE CC/pewpew action). But don't take my word for it, I'm a Marksman with some survival talents--go read Hunter's Mark for some real SV hunter goodness.

4. "MM is a tough spec to put out dps with, and isn't worth the effort."
Obviously I call shenanigans here. I'm not killing myself over here trying to top the DPS chart, and I can top it pretty consistently in instances/raids, but the key is that I'm NOT watching the damage meter. I'm watching my cooldowns and the threat meter, weaving my shots as best I can. If I'm in the top damage slot, bonus for me. If I'm not, it's usually because I was using my time to CC and keep our squishies safe, or it's just not a ranged-DPS situation (Skeletal Chargers, I'm lookin' at you). Is it easier to play a BM hunter? Possibly. Your pet does some nice DPS, and you can shoot that bow like it was an uzi when Serpent's Swiftness procs alongside your Improved Aspect of the Hawk. But really, it's not actually that hard to get your shot rotation down as a MM hunter. You can even use a macro if you don't feel up to weaving shots. I personally don't use a macro for my rotation, because I have the timing down, and I want my shots to be as responsive as you can get, and that means hitting the buttons myself. Is this the only way to play? Hell no, mash that macro if that's what you really want. Whether that macro is gimping your DPS or helping it depends entirely on how you play best.

5. "MM is easy mode."
I will never understand how people get away with this one. See answer to the above question. I've played BM, and the pet tank/increased pet DPS you get as a BM hunter versus the other two trees makes the solo life lots easier. The smaller number of shots and stings also simplifies your shot rotation. If you want to send your pet in and just slap a macro all day, by all means, DO NOT spec MM. You have to watch aggro very carefully or have one of the world's most awesomesauce tanks as a hunter, or you're pretty well dead. This is especially true as a marksman, since a higher percentage of that almighty DPS is coming from you vs. your pet. This makes it even more important to manage your aggro! Watching your threat meter, cooldowns, and pet can be a lot to juggle, but like chain trapping, learning is worth it.

Everybody's workin' on the weekend.

So I've been productive, for once! Netted some AB marks, a couple of WG marks (and yes, it was WG weekend, and I ended up with a grand total of TWO WG marks. >_< Sadly, running WG without a premade is like papercuts in lemon juice for me, and there's no premade in sight at present. Despite my refusal (or perhaps because of it) to run WG, I netted 10 AB marks, 12 AV marks, and broke 7k kills. Also, created a 2v2 team (RaWzOrSaUrUsReX) with Psychotíca and fought 18 battles. We're learning. Which reminds me I need to grind for gold so I can put a Glyph of Shadow Warding on my PVP helm. Yes, I have a helm I'm going to pimp out for PVP. It has a swift skyfire diamond all socketed and ready to go.

In addition, much instancing was done this weekend, and while I am not sporting phat lewtz, I am sporting not one but TWO shiny new heroic keys. I can now run Heroic Coilfang (as of Saturday) and COT (as of last night) instances. Also, I can now pick up a Glyph of Ferocity for my helm, which is like phat lewtz. So, good weekend.

Of course, the rep grind continues. Next up: Honor Hold. I'm at ~7.5/12k for them, so I need to run Shattered Halls about three times, or run the Hellfire daily 30 times. (Hmm...I wonder which it'll be...) Not so bad, right? The nasty twist on the situation is that I actually want to get Exalted with them, which is going to be a long road and no mistake. My lower city rep is lagging pathetically behind, with only 1195/12000 rep down. And so I find myself with even more reasons to run Shadow Labs. Sadly, I've had the worst PUG luck with that instance. I shudder recalling those pugs. I've actually had some pretty awful non-PUG runs there, as well (fortunately not with my current crowd).

Speaking of the patch...

I noticed the background downloader running last night. Hmm...was thinking it would be a long time before I saw that, esp. since the patch date hasn't been announced. I have also (by proxy) discovered a stealth Hunter change! Our tracking display on the mini-map is changing. The Hunter's Mark has a screenie. Basically, it looks like friendlies are going to show green, neutrals yellow, and hostiles (shockingly) red. Unknowns are showing up grey. But definitely hop over to HM: she went to ZulAman! She has screenies of new [Badge of Justice] items!
Is it just us, or is obsession with the patch is approaching the level of a longtime smoker on day three after going cold turkey? I seem to swing back an forth. I'm nervous about the changes to AV, so if I've been playing that BG, I'm a bit jittery thinking about the patch. After last night's instancing, though, enthusiasm for said patch is riding high again. We ran Durnholde and I was having a nightmare of a time with the dreaded dead zone. We were fighting in hallways that weren't very long, and if it wasn't LOS crimping my damage/cc, then I found myself unable to get far enough away to shoot, but not quite close enough to wing clip, either. As Fang says, "grr, grr, grr."

Was trolling the forums yesterday, and found the following: "We're planning to shrink the min range on ranged attacks to reduce or eliminate the "dead zone". The only point to the dead zone was to ensure the min range on ranged weapons was enough such that ranged weapon attacks wouldn't be used while also being melee'd (at least by mobs... players have a bit of slush built in)."

I was positive about it before, but "Hell yes!" is all I have to say after Durnholde. Only thing is, I don't see the nerf. There's always a nerf.

Growl on, Cower off. Cower on, Growl off.

Come on, new patch! Why? Because of this little gem of a macro!

/petautocasttoggle growl
/petautocasttoggle cower
I love to PVP: it's what I do when I'm bored with grinding, and it always brings the game back to life for me. For those of you who either don't PvP, don't usually run offense in Alterac Valley (AV), aren't to level 50 yet, or some combination of the above, please don't let the following deter you. This hideously long post is for you. I wrote this a while ago for a friend who was just getting into Alterac Valley in the 50s bracket. Alterac Valley is a fantastic source of honor, and while it's when you start running it, the PVP rewards are totally worth investing the time it takes to get the hang of AV. Now we all know that this will be out of date soon, but now is definitely the time to get into AV, while you can still get tons of honor and it's still a known quantity to all.

Background for those who've never done AV: The goal of Alterac Valley is to kill the other faction's general while defending your own. The Alliance is defending Vanndar Stormpike and trying like hell to kill Drek'Thar. This is a simple goal, yes? Not so fast there, Ally. Once you get in there, people will be yelling all sorts of stuff. Turn in your insignias, turn in your crystals, we need rams, protect the druids, etc., etc.. AV is complicated (unnecessarily, most times) by a myriad of side quests, which give your faction additional bonuses and NPCs to fight alongside you. When you start off, defense is where you belong. This will give you a chance to see how it works before you're thrown to the wolves. (Ha ha, pun--get it? Frostwolf? OK, OK, I know it was bad) Defense is primarily about holding off the Horde. You do not want them getting in and killing Vanndar Stormpike, (Vann or just Van in BG speak). This should always be the ultimate goal. OTOH, defense should be much more concerned with these side quests than the offense. The defense is responsible for taming rams (so you can get mounted NPCs to fight on your side), keeping the towers controlled (gives Vann more elite commanders to defend him), and turning in the items gotten from looting dead hordies to the appropriate questgivers. Really, though, running defense is mainly about holding off the Horde as long as possible. You will likely not be able to keep the Horde out of your main camp, but you can sure slow them down and make their life difficult. Defense usually gets an unholy number of kills, too. Mmm....honor...

The goal of the offense is just as simple: the destruction of the enemy general. The plan simpler, but still complicated in its own right (just sort of differently complicated). I'll explain in a second here. Yes, there are still side quests for the offense, but far fewer (taking/destroying towers, freeing the wing commanders, and returning the loot from the horde/wolves you kill to the respective questgivers at your own keep), but they're not so critical. The real complication is that the opposing team's General is hard! All the things that work for your defense work for the Horde's defense as well. It's really easy to screw up on the offense side, and the consequences are rather more severe than screwing up on the defense. The enemy general is not only a boss, he has some hardcore elites protecting him! Most of your force should always be on offense.

Offense is all fun and NPC kills until you get close to the other faction's keep. Once you're there, here come the problemscomplications. First off, you MUST take and hold Frostwolf Graveyard (FWGY in raid-speak). Once that caps, move forward to destroy the East and West Frostwolf towers. If you don't take out these towers, you're fighting additional elites when you're trying to kill Drek'Thar, so make sure they're on fire before you even think about Frostwolf Keep. Once you've assaulted the towers, you need to hold them until they're destroyed. Leaving them undefended (or underdefended) makes them that much easier for the Horde to reclaim, and you'll have to fight up to the top and wait for it to cap all over again.

Once the towers are destroyed and crackling merrily behind you, the new target is the Frostwolf Relief Hut (FWRH, but usually called just RH). Again, don't even think about going into the Frostwolf Keep until this is captured. I'll reiterate, because it's critical: no one goes into the keep for any reason. Once you start to pull the commanders out into the courtyard, there will be casualties. If someone pulls one or more elites before the Frostwolf Aid Station caps, the people who die have a loooong way to run back and the elites will (I say again) tear the offense apart. Once the RH is yours, HOLD ONTO IT. You really, really need that graveyard. You should keep an eye out for hordies who are trying to take back the RH. Usually these can be taken care of by people who've just rezzed, as the flag is between the GY and the Keep, but if the Horde manages to challenge (or worse take) the relief hut, your offense has to run a long way back to the keep, and this is really bad news.

Okay. So the towers are down, the RH and its GY are yours, and The Keep lies at your feet. Don't get too hasty. Seriously, stay the hell out of the keep, even now. The elites in there are serious baddies, and can two-shot you if you're not a tank. If some idiot aggros more than one at a time, they will tear your offense apart. The raid leader should be making things easier here by raid-marking the baddies (for your attackers/DPSers) and your main tanks (for your healers). If more than one commander runs out (and this will probably happen), don't panic. Keep killing the one with the raid mark, and then you'll only have one to worry about. In addition to the elite commanders, Drek has two elite wolves in there with him. Kill them, too, of course.

Once you've eliminated all the NPCs except Drek, form your offense up, and everyone run in together. Usually your raid leader or assistant will yell "ALL IN" when it's time for the final fight. Two caveats: If you've killed all the elites, the relief hut (and super-close graveyard) is yours, and you've moved on to fighting Drek, and then some idiot pulls aggro and leads Drek outside the hut, he completely resets to full everything. That is BAD. If you get aggro and you're not a tank, either ditch aggro or die in the hut. DON'T try to run out. Additionally, if your offense wipes (probably because you didn't all run in together or the Horde challenged the RH), he resets and you get to start over again. Otherwise, from here it's pretty simple (really!): kill the shit out of him. Don't get distracted by hordies in the keep. As long as they're not in the RH taking the flag, forget them. Nail Drek until he keels over and you win.

I know all of this sounds absolutely insane (it probably is), but once you're there, your raid leader and other members of the offense are very clear on the important stuff, so don't panic if you get in there and forget everything I wrote out here. If you remember to:
  • wait 'til the relief hut caps before pulling elites from the keep,
  • hold the relief hut,
  • stay out of the keep until the commanders and wolves are dead, and
  • all go in to fight Drek'Thar together, you'll win in no time.

    The biggest problems the Alliance seems to have on my server (Farstriders)lately are:
  • People who run into the keep after some hordie defender even though everyone's yelling at them NOT TO GO IN, and they end up aggroing everything in there. Worse, they end up aggroing Drek after all his commanders have already been taken out, and thus resetting all those elites we just killed.
  • People who, once we're in the keep, get Drek on them and run out of the hut with Drek right behind them, thus resetting him. This happened three times in one battleground the other night (we won anyway because we seriously had the best defense I've ever seen).

    ETA: Printable Map! Wish I'd had this when I started AV.