Hunter PvP Basics: Movement & Positioning

A BM PvP Guide is near the top of my agenda still, but I figured I’d set the stage by sharing a few tips that hunters of all specs can benefit from. 🙂 No matter your preferred build, we all deal damage from range, fight with a trusty companion at our command, and have access to the same baseline abilities. Hence, there are a few general rules of thumb to abide by when playing a hunter in a PvP setting.

This guide will focus mostly on battleground tactics, and not so much on arena strategy. It is not intended to be a “how to pwn noobs for breakfast, with extra rofls and raple syrup” post. This post is directed at players who want to enjoy casual BG’ing with their hunter, but are somewhat lost on how to utilize the class.

If you’re an epic PvPer with a shiny Gladiator title, etc… you’ll likely not gain much of anything from this article. If you’re a PvE player who wants to enjoy PvP a bit more, or maybe you play a hunter as an alt and would like to hit up some BGs, then this post is for you.

When looking for information on PvP, I find that a lot of sources usually skip over a lot of the fundamental stuff, assuming everyone is already up to speed on their class role and abilities. My aim is also to help players who are not only new to the hunter class, but possibly even new to WoW as well.

When I began this guide the other day, I didn’t have a real clear cut idea as to how involved it would be. Once it reached 2,200 words, with still much to add, I decided to chop it up. I’ll be serving it piece meal over the next few days.

Once I’m done with it, then I’ll start addressing some more BM-specific information.

Well let’s get started shall we…

A stationary hunter is a dead hunter

Hunters should continually be on the move. Standing still allows stealth classes to set up on you with ease. Not to mention, if a rogue or feral druid does happen to open on you, they can gain a distinct advantage depending upon the size of the can of whoopass they were able to open on you during that time. Also, if you are within range of a caster, standing still and within range allows them to get off some of their higher damage spells which require casting times.

Ideally, you want your foes chasing you, or fleeing from you. Do not stand still and fire just because you think you have a safe distance. Always try to maintain that gap. Hunters have a long attack range, which is something you want to always use to your advantage. You start letting players within 30-40 yards of you, even melee, they can utilize abilities that will really ruin your mojo.

The idea is to maintain max range from your enemies, while still being in range of any available healers, all the while being a rolling stone. There are times where you may want to stand still and settle in for some nice Rapid Fire pressure and sustained DPS. If that’s the case, be sure to drop a Flare at your feet, and perhaps a Freezing Trap nearby as well. Having the flare up may prevent a rogue from coming at you, but if they do, you’ve got the early detection happening. If another class comes at you, then try and lure them to your Freezing Trap.

I find it’s much more advantageous and effective to lure a player into an existing trap, than it is to try and lure them into one you’ve just placed. Smart players will avoid it, plus laying a trap uses up a global cooldown you could have used for another attack.

Placing the trap at your feet, then taking a step or two forward is typically what I do. Stealth classes will most often try to open on you from behind, which is why it’s advisable to have a trap just behind you.

However… if you’re involved in a heated standoff where it’s total chaos, then don’t bother with a Freezing Trap in most cases. A Frost Trap is much better in this situation, as it’s quite possible your opponent’s may have DoTs on them, or a fellow teammate may come along and break the trap. In these cases, I usually just hurl a Frost Trap right into the fray. This helps me maintain pressure on the snared targets, and assists my melee teammates who are in there slugging it out.

Anyway… I’ll get more into traps later on…

Proper movement and positioning are key

This is something that many players often undervalue, but one way a true PvPer sets himself apart from the herd is by way of expert movement and positioning. I’ve been PvP’ing as a hunter for over five years now, but I don’t think I really became decent until I played a 19 hunter competitively. Without all of the tools available to you at that low level, much of what you rely upon is proper movement and positioning. Having to hone those skills is something that I feel has really helped me in endgame PvP. Anyway, let’s move on…

Ideally, we always want our enemies at maximum range… this should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, most of the time we don’t enjoy this luxury. Other classes have far too many ways to close the gap on us. Therefore, it’s important that we practice ways to try and not only maintain range, but also to avoid damage.

Strafing & Kiting

Many of you already know this, but just to be sure everyone is up to speed… players cannot dodge attacks from behind. For this reason, it’s very important that you try to avoid running directly from an opponent, with your back to them, unless you’re under the effect of Deterrence. Instead, you should use a strafing technique to gain range.

Strafing not only allows you a chance to dodge incoming attacks, but it also enables you to continue attacking. Because your opponent is still within a frontal arc of your character, you can still deliver headshots while running. This is especially important now, being that hunters in the Cataclysm era now have the ability to fire auto-shots while on the run… finally!

By default, Q & E are the assigned keybinds for L & R strafing, respectively.

Admittedly, I don’t actually strafe as much as I preach it. What I mainly do is use a technique called the jump-shot, where by I run in a particular direction, jump and fire at my opponent (often slowing them with a Concussive Shot), then landing in the direction I want to travel.

Rather than run or strafe in a straight line, I try to corral opposing players into a small area, by keeping them slowed, and by traveling around them in an arc. If you’re chasing a flag carrier, or running with the flag, then traveling in a linear fashion is generally a good idea. However, if you’re trying to stay alive while involved in a standoff defense or attack, skirting around the perimiter of the action is a good approach. It allows you to continually maintain range, without having to travel very far, and while also keeping in motion.

Think of it like circling the wagon, as the in’juns did back in the old west. 😉

Never use backpedaling as a means to create range from an opponent. Backpedaling is when you simply walk backwards while facing your opponent, using your S key, down arrow, or some other keybind. The obvious reason why this technique is so ill-advised is due to how slow you move while walking backwards. If you need to gain distance, strafe away or Disengage. Remember… speed kills.

I don’t even have a key bind that allows me to backpedal. It’s not really that necessary for any ranged class, and especially not for hunters.

Along with being fleet of foot, a hunter also needs to use his available tools to keep his foes at bay. I’ll get more into these various things in a later post, but I’m speaking in terms of Concussive Shot and Frost Trap. Use them, and use them often.

Go ahead and Ju-ump!

David Lee RothThe spacebar is one of my favorite keys when PvP’ing. I am a jumping fool in battlegrounds. Reason being, jumping allows us to change direction quickly – especially when using Disengage. It’s also a great technique to use when applying Wing Clips. Rather than try to hit an advancing melee with a WC head-on, jumping over and around them and applying it at their backside allows you to land a guaranteed snare, while also increasing your chances of avoiding incoming damage, and sometimes confusing and disorienting the opposing player. There are many keyboard turners out there in the BGs, and stuff like this will ruin their day. 😉

Of course, you must use mouse movement to pull off tricks such as these, so if you don’t use a mouse to move already -and- want to become a decent PvP’er, now’s the time to switch. Mouse movement and key binds are quite essential for PvP success. Keyboard turning and clicking may cut it for raiding, but if you want to put on the daddypants and test your skills vs other humans, then steering with the mouse and using keybinds is the only way. 😉 You just can’t simply turn fast enough to properly maneuver a hunter if you’re using your keyboard to turn.

Jumping can also be used to distract an opponent from the obvious fact that you’re laying a trap. You still perform the kneel animation, but if properly sandwiched between a jump, then a jump-shot, it helps to mask the trap animation ever-so-slightly. At least I like to think so… because I have great success with it. 🙂

Line of sight

Hunters have a love/hate relationship with line-of-sight. On one hand, it’s a real thorn in our sides when other players know how to use this to their advantage. However, we can also use it just the same to improve our survivability. A simple sidestep behind a structure can often be the most basic and effective form of a spell interrupt.

I typically prefer open areas with plenty of room to maneuver, but there are times when I like to utilize line of sight to my advantage. For example, my preferred spot for assaulting the enemy flag room in Warsong Gulch is from the roof. A hunter can unload like a turret from the roof of the flag room, hitting most any spot within the room just by skirting around the edges of the roof if needed. If the enemies below decide to turn their focus towards you, then you just need take a few steps backward. They can no longer attack you, as you’ve just escaped their line-of-sight.

In fact, there are many LoS opportunities in WSG. I utilize the trees on the second floor of each base to my advantage whenever possible, as well as the stumps in the middle of the battlefield.

Using line-of-sight for placing traps is also quite effective. It’s much easier to snare an advancing player, especially melee, if you lay a trap while you’re LoS’d, then lure them into it. Think farmhouse or stable in Arathi Basin.

Be aware of your surroundings

In addition to being mindful of line-of-sight, you should always maintain eyes in the back of your head and be thinking about your escape route, should you become under siege. One important (and obvious) thing to remember is to never have your back uphill when you are attempting to Disengage. Regardless of how you’re positioned on sloped terrain, always jump and swivel around so that your back is facing either a flat, or downhill position, in order to gain max distance – preferably not towards more bad guys. 😉

When in BGs, I often glance down at my minimap just so that I’m aware of advancing bad guys, and from which direction they’re coming. I never rely solely upon the information that’s visible in the game window. Tracking is a distinct advantage for hunters – use it and pay close attention to it.

For example, if you are sitting atop the enemy flag room in WSG, then you should also:

  • Have a flare and Frost Trap placed at the roof access choke point.
  • Be mindful of your minimap, watching for advancing bad guys that may be coming up the ramp to get you.
  • Be thinking about where you will make your escape, should the roof become overrun with hostiles.

Another thing you always want to try and beware of are your healers. Make sure you are within range so they can support you if needed, as well you should immediately try and peel off them should they get attacked.

Austin Danger PowersI talk a lot about survivability in this post, but know that this is not what it’s all about. Survivability is a key component to success, but winning games and matches is what it’s all about. I have absolutely no problem staying in a no-win situation if it’s for the greater good of the team. Danger is my middle name… yeah, baby, yeah..!

Camera settings

Regardless of how you like to view the game, I recommend that you set your camera to max-distance if it isn’t already. Another thing you want to do is make sure that your camera moves freely. I’ve been using these settings for so long, I’m not sure if they’re default or not, but just to be sure…

I suggest you use what I’m using.

WoW Camera Settings for PvP

I am constantly panning around with my camera watching the action from all sides, trying to plan my next move, etc… This technique is very important in keeping with the awareness mantra.

Much more on the way…

I’m going to wrap this post up here, as I think it’s a good basic start to everything I’m planning on talking about. Future posts will refer back, and further touch on some of these points, as I have a lot to cover. Not to mention… writing a PvP guide is tough stuff. It’s difficult enough to try and become adept at it, let alone tackle an all-encompassing guide.

My goal is to be as organized as possible, but it may come out like streams of consciousness at times. I’ll try to cover as much as I can, but I’m sure I’ll miss a few things here and there. If you have any specific questions related to any of the posts that haven’t been addressed in their respective guide, I’ll try my best to answer them. Just please try and refrain from firing off a line of questions before I’ve had a chance to serve up the entire guide. 😉

I estimate I’ve got at least 3 more posts to get through before I’m done, so bear with me peoples…

Other Helpful Hunter PvP Guides


18 thoughts on “Hunter PvP Basics: Movement & Positioning”

  1. Thanks for the guide its been helpfull:). I was just wonder how most people straff, i use my mouse for movement and keybindings on y keyboard. So for me its hard to straff and use my keybindings.

  2. Hey Garwulf,

    thanks for this awesome guide! I have always been a bit of a PvE hunter myself, but this post is inspiring to try out some more battlegrounds. I am definitely a noob when it comes to PvP so these tips definitely come in handy!

  3. Thank you for the great article, read it shortly after you posted but didn’t have time to comment. You article helped immensely, I’ve been trying out your tricks (though sometimes panic get the upperhand! :P). I tried doing Arenas yesterday, 50/50 win ratio for my first time doing rated arena so was tricky but your movement advice worked treats.

  4. Gar – I was wondering if you could please help me with something movement wise. I am admittedly not a mouse movement user because every time I try to use the mouse to either full turn or jump/turn or jump/disengage, my screen level goes haywire. I end up looking at the screen as if I was looking 180 degrees straight down on my toon. I have tried adjusting all of the camera settings and nothing seems to stop this. I can only think that somehow I am not moving the mouse correctly to actually turn/jump-turn. Can you please go over exactly the mouse movements you use to turn and jump/turn – thanks…

    • Hi Xana,

      When I jump-shot, the front of my mouse travels about an inch L or R, with the rear of the mouse mainly staying put. The key is to find a sweet spot within the settings that works for you. Personally, I don’t like things too twitchy or sensitive, but yet I also don’t want to have my mouse flying across the mouse pad all the time.

      In conjunction with the camera settings above, here is what I use for my mouse (2000dpi Logitech G5):

      WoW Mouse Settings

  5. Holy sv hunter mode batman … ty seems weak but it all i have. just found your great blog. subscribing in about two secs. Please keep up the good work a non-technical, non-theorycrafted discussion of hunters is welcome relief from the normal drudge reading. thanks again.

  6. Looking forward to the BM PvP guide Gar. I tried hopping on Perc the other night and PvP….and I dunno what it it is but I just don’t have the fun I used to on my hunter. I look forward to reading what you have to offer. Your guides always make me rediscover my hunter and learn new techniques. Can’t wait keep up the good work.

  7. This is good. I mean, this is _really_ good. The guides covering gems, enchants, talents and gear are all well and good (and ten-a-penny), but you can be tooled up to the nines and STILL be a mid-table also-ran with more deaths than a dino extinction. But this, this is solid gold. I want more. Now! Yesterday!!

    (On a slightly less manic note, really nice job Gar. Looking forward to the follow-ups.)

  8. Thanks for this. I do some BGs but mostly PVE and have been looking for some basic tactics. I do OK but will probably do better now 🙂

  9. Great info, Garwulf. I will be following the oncoming entries to see if I could learn a thing or two. I usually am on the move as it is in PvP, but there are several times where I find myself back-pedalling or standing still.

    Also to those of you reading, in my opionion Aspect of the Fox is your best friend while in BG’s

  10. Great thanks Gar, lots of useful stuff here.

    One extra hint I’d add in terms of overall positioning is be aware of where the enemy will be ressing and ideally have LOS of this along with whatever your objective is. If you have just killed someone they will be out for revenge and you don’t want to make it easy for them by allowing them to sneak up behind you.


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