What Is The Survival Hunter Mindset?

May 24, 2008 at 1:48 pm (Hunterology, Survival)

SHA\'s resident genius, Trackhoof

Well, just one, really, but this deserves some good attention – as it’s very well written, and is in itself an excellent question to address. This one comes from Maebius of Farstriders –

Long time feed-reader, not sure if I’ve commented before on your site…

The question: Being a lvl 56 survival hunter with a Crab/Owl pet (depending on my mood), what would you feel is the best technique to grind/farm with him? (such as farming Mageweave for our alt FirstAid, Tailors, etc).


Currently, I have a macro to cast Hunter’s Mark, and send in the pet. I wait until a growl+claw/screech goes off, then /cast Serpent Sting. Afterwards, I generally just let Autoshot PewPew with the occasional Mend Pet or a Arcane Shot to finish something off quickly.

If I expect a multiple pull mob, I tend to toss a freezing trap before the initial pet runs in, and fire a multishot after the growl to pull one of the adds into the trap. With a few weeks of practice, I can now comfortably trap this extra mob three times, though usually the first mob is dead before the first trap wears off, so it’s not necessary unless a 3-pull.

(Kiting a mob around the zone is a bit beyond my skill-level now, and needs practice.)

However, this method seems slow, boring, and pretty ‘automated’. Click a button, wait a second, click another, go get a drink while autoshot kills mob.

Is there a better way to grind at this level, that does not suck mana like draining water through a sieve? My reasoning for the Serpent+ Auto is that if I use a basic +8mp5 oil on my weapon, I can generally grind pretty quickly with only needing to stop and drink every 10 mobs or so.

My research so far with survival tends to result in end-levels information, where a Steady Shot rotation, Snake traps, Misdirection, and such are all ‘given’ skills. Levelling up (slowly) there’s not much info other than “get to lvl XYZ, when you can be using ABC skill”.

My hunter, Nookni, is currently lvl 56 and will probably be sticking around under lvl 60 for quite a while, mostly to help guildmate alts group up through this pre-Outlands stretch of questing. Nookni is meant to be my ‘farming’ alt.

(I do not PVP much other than to grind tokens for a black Raptor when I eventually ding 60)

For the longest time, I had been a beastmaster, before they were the current “favorite” of MQoSRDPS flavour for raids. Then, a few months ago, I respecced Survival to try something different. I fell in love with the Hunter again. Trapping, was easier, I learned a bit more about aggro and could actually survive getting the periodic melee-your-face Add-mob. I started collecting a bit more agility on my gear, etc. I also dropped alchemy sine our guild had a large number of them, and figured I’d go to [Dis]enchanting to help feed our guild enchanter materials from random drops I get while farming.

I know I can enchant my gear a bit better, and probably upgrade some things with a few quick instance-runs from guildmates, but for now, I’m mostly concerned with the “how/why” of Survivalism, and being less of a “Huntard” as far as methodology.

Nookni, Kanandi, Denahi (Farstriders Realm)

An excellent question, Nate.

I checked out your armory profile – your spec seems wide open right now, which is great. If you don’t plan to take anything past 60 on this guy for now, you’ll definitely benefit from the Outland gear that you can get at 58 through the Auction House, in terms of boosting your Agility and effectiveness.

Your main concern, at this point, is Mana Efficiency; Since you have a preference for using Serpent Sting and autoshots, and want to make the most of the Survival Tree, I cooked up a spec for you that, hopefully, you’ll dig.

A nice little Survival / Marks spec.

All killer, very little filler – I wanted to go far enough into Improved Stings to give you some added benefit for your Serpent Sting approach, but also, I recommend, in your case, picking up Resourcefulness, for the reduced Trap cost, and a bit in Lightning Reflexes for more Agility. When you get towards 60, feel free to max out Lightning Reflexes or Serpent Sting, and load up on some AP while you’re at it; it’ll increase the damage output of your Stings, and certain traps, as well.

Additionally, try using Immolation Trap, one of said traps which benefit from additional Attack Power, and stacks up another great DoT on top of Serpent Sting. Use it the same way you would use your Frost Trap, and give yourself a little time before you do a pull, so you’ve got a cooldown ready for emergencies. Mirshalak uses Serpent + Immolation all the time when he’s farming old instances like Scholomance for the very reason that it’s low threat, high damage, and light on the mana.

(It’s the Diet Dr. Pepper approach – great taste, low calories, and all the goodness you expect from a man who has a Phd. in carbonated beverages.)

I would generally recommend using your Owl more; Screech is a brilliant threat builder, since it’s Area of Effect, and can build threat on monsters without even touching them. As a Survival Hunter, if you don’t have a threat meter, get one. It’ll help you learn the ebb and the flow of your damage, as well as managing your pet effectively, which you seem to have under control.

In regards to getting into the “Survival Mindset”, the key idea is fluidity. Be prepared, but also improvise if necessary; rather than the stand-and-deliver-DPS approach you may be used to, find little ways to keep yourself mobile. One of my guildies referred to the way that I trap as art itself; she’s excellent at the entrenched DPS style, where the mindset of motion I got into as a Survival Hunter gives me the flexibility to do that while I’m trapping or planning ahead in my mind.

Think about it this way – if you are a good Survival Hunter, you plan two steps ahead and think three steps to the side. Readiness, for a true Survivalist, requires no talent points; it’s part of the class. 🙂

I congratulate you on being open enough to explore your class, wish you luck, and as we’re in the Emberstorm battleground group, maybe I’ll see you on the fields of war some day!




  1. Nookni said,

    Wow, thanks! I feel honored to be a blogpost!
    (copied my original email to you and Lianna’s Log to compare notes).

    I’ve respecced a bit, using a slight combination of your comments, and Lianna’s, and spent this weekend practicing a bit more “immolate-dot” usage to replace the “stand and deliver DPS” technique. Seems a bit more key-clicky-mouse-movey, which goes a long way in preventing the sheer monotony I was starting to question myself on.
    I do use the Omen add-on, for many moons now, and agree that while the Owl seems to be a superior aggro-holder, I’ve had my crab since lvl 11 and he is just too cute to let slide lower in XP. If I am in groups, or doing serious grinding-for-experience, I bring out the owl, otherwise, I tend to prefer the crab against green level critters while farming for mageweave and the like.

    Thanks again, and I’ll report back to you later on my continued testing of this new survivalism.

  2. Nookni said,

    Well, I’m still in the “getting used to it, and re-learning” stage, but initial reports are good.

    I’m still not really raptor striking, since my talent re-adjustments seem to make my damage increase even with auto-shots! Might be the added crit-punch? I’m also tossing down a fire trap (immolation/explosive, depending on pull), backing up, and then shooting while I send in the pet. If I’ve estimated properly, the mob gets Growled just as it hits the traps, and I either pop a Feign Death if multiple mobs, or if single, a wing clip to practice kiting a bit. The pet usually picks them up one second later, or mob dies.

    I’m frankly quite pleased with the new strategy, as it allows me to pretty quickly grab multiple green mobs, (via explosive trap), and since I’m using the fire damage more-so than the Arcane Shot, it almost ‘feels’ more mana-efficient, and speedy. I’m still testing with my usual farming spots, to get another day or two of practice and re-train my fingers to hit the right keys now. 🙂

    I skipped the talents to improve Serpent Sting, since I am seriously considering levelling to 62 just to get Steady Shot, and be even more ‘overpowered’ to farm in old Azeroth as I plan to use Nookni for.

    Thanks again, you’ve made me a much happier hunter!

  3. Scott said,

    I am a lvl 70 survival hunt my style is generally send bear aimed shot (my build is 8/11/42) let bear growl and dish out some dps while auto shotting Arcane shot which more often than not grabs me aggro wing clip retreat arcane shot dead Wing clip is an excelent move because it does decent melee damage and opens the mob up for more ranged attacks

  4. survivalhuntersanonymous said,

    @ Nookni

    Great! Glad you’re enjoying the combo of builds, and that it’s really working out for you.

    I think the Steady Shot will really help your strategy out, and the Outland gear will definitely make things a ton easier.

    @ Scott

    Okay, Scott, I’m gonna lay down a little tough love for you.

    First off, Aimed Shot is a bad way to open up. If you’re tossing a Misdirect, that’s great, Aimed Shot is perfect.

    But starting off with Aimed Shot and no Misdirect is bad; too much damage, which equals too much personal aggro. Just start off with letting the bear grab aggro, and I think it’ll be a lot easier for you. Boring, yes, but easier.

    Second, replace Arcane Shot with Steady Shot. Use something more mana efficient; Steady Shot does similar damage and costs half as much. The reason why you grab aggro at this point is BECAUSE of the Aimed Shot in your rotation.

    Thirdly, if you grab aggro… Feign Death, man. Don’t go in with the mindset of “Okay, doesn’t matter, I can take this mob no problem, especially if it hits me.” It gets you making bad habits, and soon enough, you’re wondering, “Gee, I wonder why that mob went ballistic, took me down, and then wiped the group? We were doing fine until I Aimed Shot’d him for the fifth time…”

    Sorry, but like I said, you need some tough love. You sound like you’re putting out a lot more aggro than your pet can take off you, and Arcane / Auto isn’t an acceptable shot rotation past 62, when Steady Shot becomes available.

  5. Rakan said,

    Aimed Shot is not a bad way to open up when you plan on 2 shotting the mob anyways. True SV hunters farm more like mages. BOOM, plink, BOOM, plink, dead.

  6. survivalhuntersanonymous said,

    While I love the Boom-pew-pew mindset, and certainly don’t mind the idea of two-shotting anything, remember that, unless you’re farming non-elites in Azeroth, most mobs will not be two-shotted, and more likely, four-or-five shotted.

    It’s all personal preference and entirely dependent on gear, but I prefer to let the pet grab aggro, pew pew pew within that aggro range, then send off the pet after another guy while you drop an Aimed Shot on the initial mob, rather than pull the mob with a 3k+ aimed shot crit and worry about shaking aggro afterwards.

    PS, nice gear, man. Consider me jealous!

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