On becoming a better hunter

I had an interesting conversation last night with the Raid Leader in my raiding guild. We had just finished a night of heroic Highmaul, and he was reminding everyone to keep working at their gear level in between raid nights, so we could have some reasonable success in BRF. I whispered him to ask where he thought our gear levels should be now, to which he replied at least 660. I am currently at 665, but assured him I would keep trying to edge that number up every week. Then he dropped it on me: Had I seen the Guild message of the day, where he referred people to the Icyveins class guides? I told him I was a frequent visitor there, and that recently I had been spending about an hour a week with the target dummies trying out various combos (all true).

In his gentle, subtle way he was telling me something I already knew and have been struggling with: My DPS is significantly below what my gear level suggests it should be. Lately, I have sporadically moved into the top 3-4 DPS for our usual 12-15 man raids, but that is a recent development, and there is usually a huge gap between me and the damage dealers above me.

In particular, there is a huge gap between me and our number one hunter, an undeniably great player who is pretty much a DPS god. He usually plays Beastmastery, while I play Survival, so there will be times when he has an edge just because of spec. (But then in theory so should I.) Also, I am frequently called upon to perform raid utility duties, which I like doing but which can affect damage output to a greater or lesser extent. But even taking those things into consideration, I should be putting out more damage than I am.

I know I have the bad habit of being a key masher. I can’t seem to stop rapidly tapping the key for whatever shot I am trying to get off. This is probably OK for things like Arcane Shot when Thrill of the Hunt is active, or for Explosive Shot when Lock and Load has procced. But it is very detrimental for things like Murder of Crows or Black Arrow, or especially for my long-cast focus generating shots. It hurts my DPS because it wastes time mashing non-responsive keys at the expense of getting off actual damaging shots. It results in a lack of focus control, because I really don’t know how many of the mashes will result in an actual shot, so I don’t know how much focus I am either generating or spending. And sometimes it prevents me from a timely execution of a major shot such as Black Arrow.

My other major problem is that I do not execute my priority rotation efficiently — or sometimes at all — when I am moving. This is just a sin for a hunter. The signature trait of the entire class is movement! And really, not being good at it is pretty inexcusable.

So here’s my initial plan. First, I am going to absolutely break myself of the key mashing habit. It’s been ingrained for years, and I will have to completely retrain my muscle memory, but I will do it. I will. Second, I am going to do a series of training exercises to improve my rotational efficiency while moving. Not sure what these will consist of just yet, but I have some ideas. For example, I am not proficient at strafing, so if I get better at that I should improve my shot rate because I will not be moving so much with the target out of my angle of fire. Also, I need to have my rotation become so automatic that I really don’t need to give it much thought, freeing up some brain time to figure out how to move around fire and other bad stuff, continuing to shoot while I solve the positional puzzle. This is just practice, practice, practice, no short cuts I am afraid.

Anyone out there have other suggestions?

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.

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