|"Who are these people and what's their average|
net worth? Do they even own guns?"
This is Agatha Francesca Biznicks, "Frankie" to friends and potential customers. She's the heir and owner of Biznicks Rifles and Ammunition, patent holder and exclusive dealer of the legendary Biznicks 247x128 Accurascope. Basically, she's an RP character that I lost my gusto for not long after creating her. But now she's going to be breathing new life into this blog, and hopefully into low level hunters everywhere, as the star of the first ever When Enraged recurring feature!
"Survival of the Fittest" is going to be your step-by-step guide to leveling a baby hunter through the LFD system. It will be done sorta-kinda in tandem with the Glaivecow's Adventures of Prot Cow series, which is a similar project with, er, a prot cow. Anyway, seeing as we're in the same guild with the same raiding schedule, we're going to at least be starting it off together.
Your first three talent points are going into Pathing, for a direct 3% boost to haste. While haste at level 85 is a tricksy beast, with a single "sweet spot" for Survival and a handful of plateaus for Marks, it's easier to deal with while leveling -- more is better. Focus drain is a big problem at the very earliest levels, and haste not only directly increases your focus regeneration, but it shortens the cast time on Steady Shot, which gives you additional focus regen.
The fourth (and fifth, when you get it) point is going into Improved Serpent Sting. On its own it's not a super awesome talent, at least not until you get Serpent Spread later on, when it becomes part of Survival's fantabulous AOE toolbox. But it is at least marginally useful in the sub-Cobra Shot/Chimera Shot levels, when you'll be manually refreshing Serpent every time it falls off. Constantly. FOREVER. (The fact that I am personally awful at remembering to refresh DoTs is a big part of why I was Marks through most of Wrath.)
It's also your only viable dungeon-crawling option in the first tier. Hunter vs. Wild was kind of hot back in the halcyon days of Ulduar -- its prerequisite was Survivalist, which gave the bonus stamina that HvW does now, and HvW itself converted a percentage of your stamina into agility. Unfortunately, it's just a straight stamina boost now, and while it makes a decent PvP or soloing utility, it's not going to do us much good in the LFD queues.
Pets are a completely different mechanic now than they have been at any point in hunter history. The short of it is that every pet family brings a different buff (to the entire party) or debuff (to the target). These buffs and debuffs mimic those brought by different specs of other classes, so the best thing to do is see what's already being provided by your groupmates, and then fill in the most useful remaining spot with one of your own pets.
A good place to start for this is Zee's Raiding Pet Flowchart (shamelessly ganked from I Like Bubbles, where all good WoW flowcharts originate). I have this in my "Important Shit" bookmarks folder where I can get to it quickly as people get swapped in and out of raid groups.
As you level a hunter, you gain the ability to have multiple pets "with you" at a time, which you can dismiss and summon at will, fitting in nicely with the whole "bring pet based on group composition" framework. However, at the very beginning, you're only going to have one pet -- and none of those pets gain their special buff/debuff abilities until they reach level 20. So for right now, it's not going to matter that much.
If you're looking on down the road, since you don't get Call Pet 3 until level 42, the first two pets you'll probably want to keep with you are a wolf, whose Furious Howl gives everyone in your party 5% bonus crit, and a cat, whose Roar of Courage grants Strength and Agility. The wolf buff is going to be more useful to others in the party, while the cat's buff is the single greatest DPS boost to yourself. It doesn't really matter which one you get first (since, again, you'll have both of them before their special abilities even become available). Whichever one you think is prettiest.
So now that you've got your character all tidy, it's time to figure out what the hell you're going to do! When you first walk into either Ragefire Chasm or the Deadmines, your rotation is going to look like this:
- Hunter's Mark (before the pull if possible).
- Send your pet in to attack.
- Serpent Sting
- Explosive Shot.
- Arcane Shot if you have enough focus for it immediately after Explosive.
- Chain cast Steady Shot until Explosive Shot is off cooldown and you have enough focus for it.
- Refresh Serpent Sting if it falls off.
(This is actually a modified version of the rotation I use at 85; I just sub in Black Arrow for Arcane if it's off cooldown, and use Arcane to bleed off focus if I cap.)
An important note: with as little haste as you probably have at this point, it's incredibly likely that ExShot will come off cooldown before you have enough focus to cast it. That's okay. Avoid the temptation to just go ahead and hit Arcane because you already have enough focus for it! You'll just be pushing your glorious explosive victory back that much farther.
The only really useful thing you can macro together right now is Hunter's Mark with your pet attack -- saves you a keystroke at the beginning of the fight, and is helpful if you tend to be forgetful about one or the other.
/cast Hunter's Mark
Simple as that. I keybound it to Ctrl-1, where my pet attack has been bound since I first rolled Jez three and a half years ago.
Heirlooms and Enchants
If you want heirlooms, get the mail agility ones; they auto-convert down to leather until you train for mail. The leather ones will work fine, too, up until level 50 when the armor specialization kicks in. You don't get dual wield until 20, but the daggers are fine after that. The bow is good too. Enchant everything with the highest agility or attack power enchants you can find. (Ktok pissed me off when he mentioned he was going to be doing this section, because it was more work than I wanted to do, but then I realized how moronically simple it would be for a hunter guide. Have fun with that parry-dodge ratio, little prot cow!)
And now that this post is over a thousand words, quite possibly the longest thing I've ever written on this blog, I'm going to let it go. Sometime tonight or tomorrow, Frankie will be heading off onto her first big adventures, and we'll have a post about the dungeons lying between you and level 20!