Hunters — it’s not easy being green

MMO Champion published a graph today of — well, I am not sure what it is of because it is horribly confusing and seems to violate most of the rules of graph design. But it is supposed to show active player class representation in Patch 6.2. It is also supposed to show data on item level within classes, but the legend does not match the graph, it is not well labeled, and so on. Never mind, what I was interested in is the basic class representation numbers and the responses to them.

No surprise, hunters were the most populous class, followed by druids, then pallies and warriors. After that, the next group was DKs, mages, priests, and shammies. At the bottom were rogues, warlocks, and monks — monks being the lowest. (Weirdly, my two most played classes by time are hunter and monk, which I guess may say something about my tendencies to operate along border areas….)

Predictably, the nutosphere vomited hate on hunters over this graph, pointing out in barely literate terms how easy it is to play a hunter, how boring it is to play a hunter, only bad players choose hunters, hunters are OP no fair no fair no fair, we hates them, we hates them!

Perusing the forum comments, my reaction was oh here we go again, another opportunity to hate hunters, nothing new here, move along. But then I began to think about it. Why is it that hunters are, and have been since the inception of WoW, the class everyone is allowed to hate and to dump on? What is it about the class that inspires cretins everywhere to unleash torrents of vile invective against it, given any slight pretext? No other class has been so consistently and so openly hated as hunters. Yet it remains the most-played class. (Reminds me of the idea that “no one” — certainly no right-thinking individual — reads those trashy “newspapers” at the supermarket checkout, yet mysteriously they stay in business and make a profit.)

Hunters have always been an attractive class for beginners. They are easy to level, taming pets is fun, and — let’s be honest — with the popularity of movies like Hunger Games, the bow as a weapon appeals to adolescent females, who demographically tend to lose interest in the game before reaching level cap. In fact, anyone just wanting to try the game out for awhile has a high probability of selecting a hunter, and many of these beginners stop playing before level cap. This means that there is a high percentage of unskilled hunters in the game, making the same mistakes and social “foopaws” as every other newbie, except hunters are more numerous and thus more visible for these things. So I suppose I kind of understand the genesis of “huntard” (a term I abhor, not for its slur of hunters but for its mean slur of a group of people for whom life is a constant challenge).

What I don’t understand is the stubbornness with which hunter haters cling to their hatred, their vocalness in demanding this or that hunter nerf at every opportunity. Mind you, they don’t want their own class buffed with hunter traits, they want hunter traits to be destroyed, to make it “harder” for hunters.

As Blizz has said for years, their goal is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. Hunters — along with nearly every other class — adhere to that philosophy. Yes, they are easy to learn. And no, they are not easy to master. And the same can be said of nearly every other class. Yet it seems to be only hunters that vocal morons in forums and trade chat constantly denigrate for being “easy”. Many of them go on to point out — apparently for credibility — that they have a hunter alt, but it is too boring and easy and so their main is one of the “skill” classes. Uh-huh. Almost certainly they never mastered their hunter, so of course it is “easy”.

Not everyone loves the hunter play style. They identify strongly with a different class. Still, they are interested enough to try it out, maybe play it once in a while for variety. That is perfectly understandable. I feel the same way about mages. But I do not seize on every possible opportunity to express spittle-flecked hatred for the class. If mages happen to be at the top of the DPS charts, I do not rant against them as OP, I do not lobby to have them nerfed, I do not stamp my feet and hold my breath until I am blue and scream about it bring unfair. In that situation, if my goal were to do top damage, I would get better at my mage and play it as my main.

Is playing a hunter easy? No, not if you want to do it well, no more so than playing a DK or rogue or druid is easy at skilled levels. Putting out high DPS while mobile is a skill you learn with practice. Cheerfully saying yes to raid duties is a team skill you learn that comes with the territory of being mobile. Managing a pet along with a your own constant rotation is a skill — you don’t have to learn it, but good hunters constantly manage their pet’s threat stance and positioning. Managing your focus to never miss a signature shot — while constantly moving — is an advanced skill.

But here’s the thing. Since most players have tried a hunter at one time or another, they think their experience with them at the “easy” level is all there is. When they see hunters topping the raid damage charts or mopping the floor with them in PvP, they assume these skilled hunters are just mindlessly mashing the same buttons they themselves did at level 5 or 50 or 70 or whatever. Hunters are like belly buttons — everyone has one, but not many are willing to flaunt them in public. If mages were the most popular beginner class and were as easy to level as hunters, I guarantee you the forums would be consistently full of mage hate. It’s a function of popularity.

Still, it gets old. And of course it is a mob mentality that feeds on itself. Players new to WoW quickly learn that hunters are the red-headed stepchild of the game and that no one will ever flame them for hating on hunters. (The cynical me even wonders if the reason Blizz seems to choose hunters to experiment with is because they know no one will object except the hard core hunters, and no one likes them anyway.)

We hunters are tough and independent, though, and truthfully don’t give a crap about the opinion of the lesser classes. In the words of Kris Kristofferson (Jesus Was a Capricorn):

Cause everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on
Prove they can be better than at any time they choose
Someone doin’ somethin’ dirty decent folks can frown on
If you can’t find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

Still, is it asking too much for you to be witty and grammatical when you hate us?

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.

6 Responses to Hunters — it’s not easy being green

  1. Casually Odd says:

    I agree with all that you wrote and, of course, being an alt person, I never understand that random hate.

    I guess I would say that I think it partially comes from the idea that “easy” is bad. Good things are hard – heroic dungeons, mythic raiding, real PvP. LFR, care bears and all of that are easy mode and that’s bad. It’s not a matter of choice – i.e. “I prefer this challenge and it is more fun for me to do hard level stuff” but “you are wrong and bad to play at those other skill levels”

    Maybe I’m over reaching, but I kind of read it as part of the “filthy casuals” mindset. Easy classes are for not the “real game” etc etc.

    The thing is, I kind of agree. My hunter is much easier to play than my warlock. I tend to have much more fun on my hunter than I do my warlock. But the thing is, that isn’t the sign of a problem with hunters.

    People do this in real life a lot too. If you have good health care or leave policy at work, people can get jealous and rather than say, “I want that too”, they say, “you shouldn’t have that”. I feel that’s at work here.

    “Still, is it asking too much for you to be witty and grammatical when you hate us?”

    Sadly, I think the answer here is a loud and resounding “Yes”.

    • Fiannor says:

      I still maintain that playing a hunter at high skill levels is no easier than playing any other damage dealer at high skill levels, whether PvE or PvP. I am not claiming I play at such a level, but I have seen really excellent hunters play, and it is almost like they are not even playing the same class as run of the mill hunters. I am sure other damage dealers could say the same about their class.

      Interestingly, I find my warlock to be much easier to play than my hunter, but I suspect that is because I am not very good at it, thus I tend to ignore many of the nuances and precise timings that really good warlocks pay a lot of attention to.

      Some classes are clearly much easier to level than others, and hunters are one of those classes. The mistake a lot of players make is transferring that idea of “easy” to hunter play at all skill levels, without really breaking through to excellent hunter play themselves. They stay at the mediocre key-mashing stage even when they reach level cap and start raiding, and because they seem to be among the top damage dealers — it is ridiculously easy for a hunter to pad their damage numbers — they carry on with the notion that hunters are easy to play.

      You are so right about the tendency for people to want privileges taken away from others rather than get them for themselves. I never understood why the hunter haters — if hunters are so clearly overpowered and pampered — don’t play one as their main.

  2. Grumsta says:

    On Reddit a new player put up a thread asking for help with his level 18 Warrior as he was struggling with the game and dying a lot. One of the replies he got was:-

    “Unless you are set on a warrior, try playing a hunter first. They are much, much, more forgiving for new players. After you have your bearings down you can switch it up to other classes.”

    I am pleased to say that bit of “advice” did get down-voted, but it does sum up the prevailing image of Hunters. And for a low-to-average ability player like myself it’s sort of true: I always take my Hunter in on new bosses because the mobility and survivability is superb. Even though the RL knows I don’t really enjoy playing my Hunter (she doesn’t like hers much either), it’s a no-brainer because I’ll be of much more use.

    When the boss is on farm I take my Mage as I know the fight, I can do decent damage, and there’s one less person after Chain loot which helps the other “proper” Hunters to gear up.

    Our guild attracts new players, and lots of new players take Hunters (probably because of the skewed opinion such as that above). Last night 6 of our 13 players were on Hunters, with an even split between BM and MM. I don’t think that’s healthy for the game.

    Success in WoW is measured on the dps table, and like it or not playing a Hunter makes it about as easy as it gets to get your name higher up that table. Another quote from a Reddit post giving advice about how to get bosses down successfully: “You can easily just kick the lowest DPS, and pull again”. It’s that sort of Tradechat troll mentality that stops players from attempting to raid with “harder” classes.

    Blizzard needs to make other classes as attractive to play as Hunters, and the #1 way they could do this is either give them more instant spells or allow more casting while moving (even if it extends the cast time or something similar).

    It really is a no-win situation at the moment: be advised to take a Hunter as the easy option when you’re levelling, then get slammed for doing so in the end game.

    • Fiannor says:

      That sums up the situation nicely, it is pretty much where we are. Blizz is reaping the harvest of its decision to remove instants from almost every ranged class and healer, then reneg on its plan to make raid bosses less movement-intensive.

      A logical way out would be to restore the instants they removed, but Blizz seems incapable of admitting design mistakes, instead they always try to make complicated adjustments that end up making the situation worse. Someone needs to tell them the first rule when you find yourself in a deep hole is to STOP DIGGING. In this case, they are trying to “correct” their mistake by taking away the things that make the hunter class unique, in other words make hunters as miserable as they have made other ranged classes.

      I still maintain that hunters are only “easier” for low level, soloing, or mediocre players. I consider myself to be a decent — but by no means outstanding — hunter. I am often at or near the top for numbers in LFR, but sometimes I am in a group with really excellent players of other classes, and when that happens they completely overshadow me on boss fights, even if our gear levels are similar. In guild raids I am usually the only hunter, even though most of the rest of the team have a level 100 fairly well geared hunter alt. Again, I am at or near the top usually, but frequently our excellent mage is higher, because he is just better at his mage than I am at my hunter.

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