Posted by: ihlos | March 26, 2009

Ask a Rhino: Hunter Trio Strategy

rhino Today’s “Ask a Rhino” comes to us from Jamb of Earthen Ring, concerning his trio of hunters and their strategy for taking on old dungeons. And now, without ventriloquism or further ado, we begin.

Mr. Ohta Rhino sir,

With the upcoming changes to Stampede, I’m starting to wonder if we should consider changing up the pets in my hunter trio group.

I’ve got a couple of friends that I play WoW with regularly. We all three made hunters, 2 beastmasters and 1 marksman. We’ve been very successful at instancing with just the three of us through all of the Classic 5-man dungeons, and now we’re half-way through the Burning Crusade 5-man dungeons.

We’ve tried various pet combinations, but the best thing that we’ve found for instancing right now is 2 worms and 1 wolf. The acid spit from the worms stacks from both of them, so if they are on the same target we can get the debuff stacked up to five times very quickly. Our marksman uses a wolf for the extra attack power it adds to all of the group members (and our pets). So, we’re very sad to see that wolves will no longer add this buff to the rest of the group – but that’s another story. The 2 worms work very well since we can dual-tank large pulls, or we can team up on a big boss fight and juggle aggro back and forth with taunts.

Unless it’s changed again, the PTR says that Stampede will cause an enemy to take an extra 25% from bleed damage.

With this and the changes to Thunderstomp, making it available to all Tenacity pets, we’re considering a change of pets. I’m looking at the Rhino now, possibly teamed up with a Cat and Raptor. The Rhino will have to use Thunderstomp to grab aggro on large pulls, but his Stampede should give the Cat and Raptor a good dps-boost. The other BM (with cat or raptor) will have to off-tank as well, so that pet’s talent points will be spent more for defense than offense.

Now I’ve got lots of questions….

Should we just stick with our 2-worms for armor reduction and dual-tanking?
Should we go with new pets to take advantage of this new synergy?
Should we use 2 cats, 2 raptors, or one of each? Or are they about the same?
Does it make a difference which pet off-tanks (cat or raptor) with the other Beastmastser?

Jamb on Earthen Ring

Hello there Jamb! I’m so glad you asked such an interesting question! Many hunters decide to stray from the beaten path when it comes to group makeup, and an all hunter team is always a blast. The problem is that when you leave the path, you are often alone with no one to help you out, which is exactly why I am eager to be of any assistance that I can. So lets dig into your situation.

First of all, it should be noted that you are level 69 atm, not 80. Im assuming your friends are around your level as well. This is important, as it would change everything if you were all 80. I would recommend that as you progress through content, you are sure to keep the tanking hunter pets’ level at least one higher than the majority of the instance. This will ensure that the def, dodge, parry formulas, etc….are in your favor. I would not necessarily make this recommendation if you had a full time healer in the group.

Secondly, lets also consider the fact that none of the changes that are inspiring you to reconsider pet change will take place until dual speccing is in place. Unfortunately, Call Stabled Pet is currently a level 80 spell on the ptr wowhead site, but I believe dual speccing will be available to you, so you do have some flexibility in terms of how your hunters are specced. You could have dps focused builds and tanking focused builds for the ‘off tank’ and switch between them as needed. (For example: dps spec for trash, tank spec for the boss) Also note that you will have to travel to northrend if you wish to tame a rhino.

Ok lets dig into your questions one by one
Should we just stick with our 2-worms for armor reduction and dual-tanking?
With the upcoming changes to acid spit, two worm are probably unecessary. Unless you really need the debuff on multiple mobs, you only need one rhino. Furthermore, if you can keep the mobs close, one rhino could apply the debuff on two mobs, although it would take a little more time. Probably though, your best bet will be to bring in a different pet with a complementing move.

Lets take the next two out of order, and together
Should we use 2 cats, 2 raptors, or one of each? Or are they about the same? Does it make a difference which pet off-tanks (cat or raptor) with the other Beastmaster?
If you are going to use the Rhino and two bleed pets, they should both be cats. Cats have alot more bleed dps than raptors, so you would get more benefit. If you end up using just one bleed pet, make it a cat and pair it with the Marksman hunter, who will also have alot more bleed dps in 3.1. Concerning which pet would make a better offtank, I would say there is little difference. If going the bleed route, just stick with the cat for the offtank as well.

Should we go with new pets to take advantage of this new synergy?
You should definitely go with new pets. Two worms and a wolf will no longer be the best combo, simply due to the acid spit change. The wolf, regardless of the change, will still be a great pet for dps though, just not much of a ‘buffer’.

All in all, I don’t know that I could recommend the Rhino-Cat-Cat combo. All your potential extra dps will come from the cats, and the marksmans’ bleed dps. The thing is, without even the normal 5 man buffs, the marksman’s dps isnt going to be off the charts. So the question is whether or not the bleed buff will boost your dps more than the other abilities available. Since you are garunteed to have a tenacity pet in your group, we need not compare the dps gain to a dps-focused ferocity pet, which is good, since stampede would surely lose. All we need to do is compare it to other tenacity pets.

Since you only have hunters in your group, the armor reduction of the worm is going to boost almost all the damage from all three hunters, and all three pets, not just the bleed dps of one hunter and maybe two pets. I’ll have to run this through the mitigation formula, but I really doubt that there is much comparison.

I would also point out that 3.1 will also bring normalization of pets family modifiers, which means that the only difference between a pet will now be its moves and talents. So I would put it to you that a dps focused tenacity pet and a defense focused ferocity pet will be very similar in capability. The talents of your hunter will have just as big of an impact on your pet’s ability to dps or tank.

I think that without a healer, you will continue to need two pets in the tank and/or off tank role. My guess is that as you continue, you may find yourself needing more ability to take hits. This is why I think a damage focused tenacity pet will fill the offtank-while-still-dpsing role better than a ferocity pet. Again though, the hunter’s talents will play a big role here. A dps specced hunter with a tenacity pet will be able to handle some offtanking. You can shift talents, or dual spec, between dps and tanking as needed.

One pet that will really handle the off tank role well, even without a tanking focused hunter spec, is the turtle. The damage mitigation of shell shield, plus Blood of the Rhino and Spirit Bond, will go a long way in keeping your pet up while offtanking. Then the majority of that hunter’s talents could go into dps.

I should mention that when I talk about off tanking, im thinking of the dps being focused elsewhere until the off tank’s target. All the offtank is doing is holding the mob in place and building threat so that when it comes time to kill the target, there is plenty of threat.

Anyways, lets stay focused. So the way I see it, your best combo will include two tenacity pets, and one dps pet, which could be ferocity or cunning. For the main tank specced hunter i would recommend the turtle, to soak up the majority of the damage. For the off-tank, a dps specced (mostly) hunter with a worm for the debuff. Then the third pet would be pure damage. You could keep your wolf, and you might even consider a wasp to increase the armor reduction, since armor reduction gets better the more you stack it.

This combo assumes you will need tougher pets to soak up damage. If you find you dont need the survivability, you could always swap the turtle out for something more offensive.

Really though, there are alot of great combinations that would work. I have my bias, but you guys should find out what works well with your playstyle. Playstyle will factor in alot more in an unconventional group, as opposed to a regular group. I hope though that I have got you thinking about things. With thunderstomp going to all tenacity pets, the doors fly wide open in terms of possibility.

Thanks for asking,

If you have any questions for Ohta, email them to me!



  1. I have to say I disagree a bit. I believe the off tank should be the one that has the best survivability, while the main tank is more for threat. At least on trash. The off tank will suffer more damage since it will be tanking for longer. While the main tank will just be a meat shield while you nuke down the first target.

    Since you have 3 hunters, you will never have to face more than 2 mobs at the same time in a dungeon. Chain trapping is your friend.

    For bosses it’s probably the other way around that works best. The one that can last the longest is the best suited to main tank. Aggro will not be a problem with hunters. In 1 level you get Misdirection, and before that you can always use Feign Death.

    I’d also go with 2 tenacity and 1 ferocity pet. One tenacity pet should be talented for dps and threat, while the other mitigation and threat.

    I think I’d bring a croc for dps tenacity, simply because I love Bad Attitude. Bears can also be very potent for threat. And bears are awesome! πŸ˜‰

    Turtle is the obvious choice for boss and off tanking due to shell shield.

    I’d take a cat for the MM hunter. Cats are one of the top dps pets. And with the wolf change, you’re not going to get full potential from them any longer.

  2. Thank you Mr. Ohta Rhino! You’ve given me a lot to consider! I’m not sure if I’m up for dual-speccing myself, but I really hope they lower the level requirements of Call Stabled Pet, we could really use that trick to change up our tanking pets, depending on what we need for particular bosses.

    With so many options, I’m sure that when 3.1 drops, we’ll be trying out all kinds of variations. Most likely it will be 2 tenacity pets and 1 ferocity pet. We’ve gotten used to having taunts to throw around whenever we need to shift the aggro. But then again, with Misdirection all that can change.

  3. I will say this, For your main tank, the one to do damage and hold threat, take a croc, It’ll do the most damage with both thunderclap AND bad attitude, and off tank should be turtle for Shield, and your dps pet in my opinion should be either a wasp or a plainstider to help the tanking pets hold or tank. that’s just me, Have a good one.

  4. Hey nordh, I figured you might disagree with me on that, I am always tending to lean toward survivability and shy away from threat. In this case I would make a strong argument to focus less on threat though, for the same reason you already brought up, which is the fact that we are dealing with three hunters.

    We all know that hunters are threat masters. But it goes beyond just feign death. We also do less threat overall because our pet is dealing a healthy percentage of our damage. Tie that in with misdirects from three hunters, and you shouldn’t have any issues with threat. The great advantage that this group has is that there are no non-hunters in the group. Everyone in the group can manage their threat, without it slowing their dps adversly.

    I think the worm’s debuff is going to really pay off. I think I’ll look into what kind of dps boost the trio could expect to see.

  5. ihlos, when they are 70 with misdirect, things change. Threat will not be an issue. Until then I believe a set up with a fast threat builder is good for trash. The fact that the off tank will always suffer more damage due to tanking longer still stands though.

    In TBC when I was doing 5 hunter SL runs we all misdirected our own pets for bosses, and for trash we just nuked pretty much. I was mostly the big pulls of the trash that needed tanks, and that was by threat building over survivability using a cat actually (before 3.0 change).

    When you have 4-5 mobs in a pack running around, you need a pet that builds aggro fast. No matter if you’re using misdirects and FDs. They are on 30s cooldowns, and even with good control, it gets a bit chaotic when it comes to bigger packs. It’s common that a mob gets away from a trap by an accidental breaking, and then the pet has to be fast at pulling aggro, while still maintaining aggro on the one he was on before.

    Aggro is much faster and easier with tenacity pets, so it’s not as big of a problem now though.

  6. I see your point for sure. I’m wondering if two tenacity pets could take the damage from trash long enough to rain down three volleys on them.

    Ive looked at acid spit for several values of armor, since I cant find values for the bc bosses and trash, and I have calculated that acid spit translates to a 3-5% damage boost for the whole party

    This corresponds to armor values of 1900-4700. 4700 is roar in karazhan, which was the lowest ‘boss’ in karazhan, and I worked down from there. The more armor the mobs have, the more benefit you receive.

    Once the group moves to lich king, they will encounter the normalized armor value. 13083 is the armor value that every boss of every 5 man will have, heroic or non heroic. So lets calculate that one.

    Ok, so I calculated the reduction against targets with 13083 armor:

    at lvl 70, a 20% armror reduction reduces the mobs damage mitigation by 5.56

    So you did 100 damage. The boss was mitigating it down to 44.66, but with acid spit you know do 50.22, or 12.4% more damage

    At this point my head is spinning with numbers and I have no idea if im looking at this right. If anyone would like to try and duplicate these numbers I would be grateful.

  7. “13083 is the armor value that every boss of every 5 man will have, heroic or non heroic.”
    That’s for lvl 83 mobs. In other words, raid bosses. Not sure what the armor value for heroic bosses are, but if you use Beast Lore on King Drek you can see the exact number.

  8. Ah, i read the article on elitist jerks, but I thought that it was the list of bosses had that armor, only the raid bosses have been proven to have that much armor.

    So the heroics and regular dungeon bosses may have less armor.

    I dug around for King Dred.
    Mania chronicled how this boss was tameable, and the beast lore has the armor right there. Its likely that other bosses would have the same amount of armor, but its hard to tell really. Oh, the value is 8149. Also note that this was back in beta, maybe i can find a more recent shot.

    Couldnt find more recent data. So if we made a hypothetical situation where all pre raid wrath bosses had 8149 armor, that would give 43.56% mitigation against a lvl 70 player. Reduced by 20% that would be 6519 armor for 38.17% mitigation.

    So you hit for 100, and it is mitigated, causing you to only deal 56.44 damage. Now you apply acid spit, and hit for 100 again, but this time you deal 61.83, or 9.54% more damage.

    If my calculations are right, acid spit is going to be a great damage boost for the group. It wouldnt be that much of a surprise though, considering the fact that acid spit is basically sunder armor, one of the better buffs in the game.

  9. Hi there πŸ™‚ Seeing as how I’m one of the three mentioned in Jamb’s question, I feel almost kinda famous πŸ™‚

    I’m the Marksman of the aforementioned trio, and the current owner of the wolf, Boris.

    You’ve given a lot to think about, and there’s a part of me that’s fairly glad you suggested against the raptor … I’m just not fond of them for some strange reason.

    Of course, I have a tendency to prefer pets that not everyone has. Heck, we did the majority of the vanilla content with me having a cobra pet, Jamb with a wolf, and my boyfriend (BM) with a white croc. I still have Sebastian. Just something nifty about a white cobra πŸ˜‰

    I do have a cat, though I’d have to level him up a bit. We’ll probably end up giving a few combos a try and going with what seems the best. Now that I have Misdirection (70) it’s a little easier πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the thoughts πŸ™‚

  10. ihlos, once again you’re wrong in estimating the armor values.
    Lvl 76 bosses (King Dred on normal) might have 8149 armor, but for each level the armor value increases.

  11. To be sure, the values of the pre raid bosses will vary wildly, I just didnt have any access to those numbers. To be fair I did preface my calculations saying it was a “hypothetical situation in which all pre raid bosses had 8149 armor”

    Really though, if you look at the formula, and you fix the attacker level, the more armor your enemy has, the more beneficial a 20% reduction becomes.

    At this point ive plugged in values from the very lowest and highest ends of the spectrum. At the low end, acid spit is respectable, and at the high end its very appealing.

  12. 20% armor reduction will always be better than 25% more bleed damage, not to mention the other pluses of acid spit.

  13. With the exception of a group lacking druids for the bleed debuff, while having a warrior to apply sunder armor anyhow.

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