We all know hunters are excellent as a DPS class and possess useful CC abilities, however recently I’ve had the itch to try my hand at a much less conventional hunter role… tanking.
I have tried countless experiments with this concept, and the following is the result of my experiences. No doubt, most of you have begun reading this post and made an incorrect assumption. No, my pet is not going to be the focus of this topic.
Don’t get me wrong, this was one of the first places I went to try and make this work. However, after several talent and gear builds based around making my pet the best tank it could be, I came to a most disappointing conclusion. While I most definitely can talent so that my pet has excellent armor, hp and crit immunity… even with all the avoidance talents available for my pets, they come up ridiculously short of what a tank needs to have for long-term survivability.
Fully buffed and tenacity defense talented, all my parses reveal that my pet only dodges between 5% and 10% of the time. Basically this means, unlike the occasional spike damage a player tank may take, the pet tank is going to be a constant mana drain on any healer. Which pretty much removes its usefulness right there.
However, even sacrificing much of my agility for defensive stats, properly talented, my hunter has 43% dodge and 14% parry. These are in addition to my racial bonus as a night elf of 2% avoidance and the 3% that’s a result of my + defense items. It’s a pretty respectable amount of avoidance even for a traditional tanking class. However, survivability is not the only needed qualification for a tank, we’ve yet to get to the true challenge, threat.
You are never going to be able to hold threat over a group of similarly equipped teammates, no way… you just aren’t. Therefore we need to focus on making a group to help us generate the threat we need. Whom do I mean? Your fellow hunters of course! Especially now, with the change to Misdirection, a group with 3 other hunters and a healer can function quite well. It does require a bit if awareness, timing and coordination however.
Depending on the type of encounter, you may need all or some of your teammates to misdirect either a Volley or single target shots towards you, and sometimes a combination of both. This combined with Feign Death, should allow you to hold threat over the other hunters, and generate enough threat to prevent your healer from squishing. This is not always the case, as accidents happen, cooldowns happen at inopportune times, etc. So we need to discuss your personal threat generation and taunting.
As a melée hunter tank, you’ll be rotating Raptor Strike, Mongoose Bite and Counterattack (whenever it becomes available). Also, your only means of effective area of effect threat is Explosive Trap, so be certain to lay one down before the pull, and pull 3-5 seconds before the cooldown wears off so you can immediately lay down a second. This combined with the misdirected volleys will provide a typically adequate amount of area threat. In the case of multiples, always pull with Multi Shot.
You will no doubt get a mob pulled off of you from time to time. In this situation, timing is critical. Wait until it almost reaches the other hunter and then slap it with a Distracting Shot. As it makes its way back, you will want to land a Multi Shot as well to help you regain threat on the mob as well as generate additional aggro on the 1-2 nearby.
These are the fundamental tactics of being a hunter tank, providing your talents and gear are properly focused.
Which brings us to our final topics. To properly prepare yourself as a hunter tank you need to toughen yourself up. The first 7 or so tiers of both Beast Mastery and Survival have many defensive and melée/trap oriented talents. Linked below is the talent build I use. It’s split between Survival and Beast Mastery fairly evenly.
For gear, there is one absolute requirement. You must reach the crit immunity cap of 5.6%.
The easiest way to do this is with PvP gear. However, it is in your best interest to use as much defense as possible to reach this cap as well, for the simple reason that it provides you with a significant amount of avoidance as well.
After you reach the cap, start worrying about hp and armor, the former being easier to increase than the latter. As an engineer, I find the Reticulated Armor Webbing for gloves is an excellent choice to help beef up your armor rating a bit. In addition to that, just start slapping stamina gems in those gem slots.
Before you know it, you’ll have an equipment set to throw on that makes your group say, “A hunter with 31khp, WTH?” Beyond being a viable tank in the right group, the shock value is priceless as well. 😉
You now know the basics of this hunter tanking method. I plan to provide you with the details of my various tanking exploits in the coming weeks, and I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as my fellow hunters pretend they enjoy helping me accomplish them.