Hunters and wolves — lone and otherwise

Isn't he beautiful?

Isn’t he beautiful?

Last night I decided to take a break from the gear grind and go after Gara on my main hunter. It took me about 3 hours (I am slow), but I successfully tamed this beautifully rendered wolf.


First of all, a huge shout-out to Bendak and the dedicated group of hunters who figured out by trial and error on the beta how to tame this wonderful pet. The quest line is now well documented, rendering it trivial for the rest of us, but the detective work they did to get us to this point was truly awesome. Check out Bendak’s account of the project, it makes for an interesting read.

As I have probably mentioned before, even though I main a hunter I am not really big on collecting hunter pets just for the sake of collecting them. I try to have at least one of every useful type — to provide raid buffs for example, or to have a pet tank available should I need one — but I don’t go out of my way to tame all the possible skins of every tameable beast type. Just not my thing.

But I love wolves. Wolves and worgs of every variety and color — brown, white, black, saber, ghostly and spectral, lightning and shadowy, silver, grey, you name it. My sentimental favorite is a white saber worg I tamed at about level 68 in Howling Fjord and have used ever since to level and often raid (especially if I am in SV spec). His name is BB — short for Big Bad — and I wouldn’t part with him for anything. We’ve been through a lot together and always stuck by each other. He has saved my worthless night elf skin more times than I can count. And I even stuck by him during a very weird phase when he seemed strangely drawn to every core hound in Firelands. You gotta admire that kind of ambition, I guess, and hey we all get smitten now and then, right?

Since SV kind of went south as a viable spec and I switched to a BM/MM combo, I haven’t used BB as much, preferring my spirit wolf from Twilight Highlands, mainly for the healing benefits. One of the lowlights of my WoW hunter career is that I have never been able to tame Skoll on any of my hunters, despite hours and hours camping him over the course of several years. (Part of the problem is that I just don’t have the patience to camp him for more than a couple of hours at a time, and I have never been lucky enough to get him to spawn when I am there, or if he spawns someone kills him, or another hunter jumps in and gets him. Maybe some day.)

All this is by way of explanation that when I first saw Gara, I knew I had to have him. So last night I carved out the time to do the quest line for him, and believe me the reward more than compensates for the sometimes annoyingly tedious quests along the way. I have to hand it to Blizz, the story is a beautiful one, and I was grinning like a fool when I finally rode into my garrison with Gara at my side. Now of course I have to decide on the name thing. I know some people think it is a crime to tame a pet with rich history, then change their name. They feel it is disrespectful to the fine beast. I can see that point of view. But I can also imagine it won’t be long before every hunter on the server has Gara by their side, and having dozens of “unique” Garas running around doesn’t seem all that respectful either. So I think I will rename him. (Let the hate mail commence.) He deserves a fine name, though, not cutesy or flippant like Bubbles or Stinky. Right now I am leaning towards Zev — short and dignified, and also an alternate English spelling of the Hebrew word for wolf. I toyed with Freki — the name of Odin’s wolf — but somehow it just doesn’t fit. Not sure why.

The Grumpy Elf posted a nice blog today about appropriate pet choices for Marksman hunters with the Lone Wolf talent (I know, does not compute, you have to read it to understand). It got me to thinking about the whole Lone Wolf talent and the game play it forces you into.

It is true that the current sims put MM with Lone Wolf at or near the top in DPS. (And of course, as day follows night, the inevitable forum whines about OP hunters. *sigh*) In fact, the same sims place my favorite SV spec in the middle, above BM by a pretty considerable margin, but to achieve that position requires the SV hunter to select Lone Wolf.  The sims, of course, are for a single target, fairly short, tank and spank boss fight, most do not include any significant AoE or movement. They also pretty much assume near-perfect play. In other words, not very useful — we will get a better idea in a week or so as the actual raid logs from Highmaul encounters start to accumulate and get analyzed.

Still, I am uncomfortable with the play style required by MM/SV selection of Lone Wolf or Focusing Shot.  I admit that may be because I am not used to playing it, or maybe the other way around — not playing it means I am uncomfortable with it and being uncomfortable with it means I tend to avoid playing it. Still, there seems to me to be a fundamental un-hunterish feel to it. For a hunter to have no pet, and to be required to stand still for specified times seems much more mage-like to me than hunter-like. Yes, I know it is physical DPS rather than casted, but that really has very little bearing on how it feels to deal the damage (absent a Thok kind of mechanic).

Hunters used to have to program a very short stop into their rotations, back in LK and before. Back then, we developed a little stutter-step technique that some hunters got very very good at. But constant movement was still basically possible, there was no requirement to actually stand still for several seconds in order to unleash your best DPS. Plus you knew that your pet was continuing to do damage even during those little short pauses.

This is different. Blizz has taken away a lot of the fun hunter things that drew me to the class in the first place, but the two distilled essences that remain for me are the possibility of constant movement and the pet mechanic. The fact that hunters now have the potential to do what others may consider “best DPS” by abandoning either or both of these baseline hunter traits, just feels wrong to me. To play that style feels like being stripped of my hunterhood, and no matter what the DPS for it ends up being, I don’t see myself doing it. In the realistic world of semi-casual raiding, I am betting skill will still trump spec and talent selection. So I am giving myself the same advice I always give to new hunters: Play the spec you love, the differences are minimal, and you’ll do better when you are having fun at it.

So yes, I love wolves, but I do not want to be a Lone Wolf.

Plus I have Gara Zev!!!


About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

One Response to Hunters and wolves — lone and otherwise

  1. Pingback: Hunter hysteria | Misdirections

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