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A Newbie’s Life: Levels 1-5

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I’ve taken quite a few hunters through the beginner levels (as can be told by my numerous characters) after all of it, I have realized that I have never actually seen a guide dedicated to the beginner hunter. Then again, I haven’t really looked all that hard, but most of what I do see is related to the end-game content. Raids, epic dungeons, Steady Shot (my main hunter doesn’t even have Steady Shot yet), etc. Nothing about what low-level abilities do what and in which situation they should be used. So I’m hoping to demystify the entire thing, from level 1 to 20. If you don’t know what you are doing by level 20, well, I can’t help you there 😉

First, some basic hunter information:

  • We are a ranged attack class. If you like to get up and close to the enemy, choose another class. WoWWiki has a more complete definition of a hunter.
  • We have pets. It is an integral part of our class. A hunter without a pet is like a priest that doesn’t heal. ALWAYS have a pet from level 10 and up.
  • There are 4 “zones” that are important to a hunter:
    1. Out of Range. This means that the mob is too far away for any attacks to happen. Get closer.
    2. In Range. This is the zone where ranged weapons (bows, guns, crossbows) and abilities are used. You want your enemies to be in this zone because this is where hunters do the most damage. It’s just the way we’re made.
    3. As of Patch 2.3, the Dead Zone has been eliminated so ignore this zone. This is the space between In Range and Melee, in which you can’t use any hunter abilities. Try to avoid having your enemy in this zone, especially in PvP where other players purposely try to stand in this area.
    4. Melee. This is where you can use your melee attacks and weapons (swords, axes, daggers, etc.). We generally want to avoid enemies being in this zone because we’re not at our best here. We can survive, yes, but to a lesser extent.
  • Almost any ranged ability you use will automatically start Auto Shoot for you, so you do not have to activate it all the time.
  • If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons or any similar RPG, it will be helpful to know that hunters are a lot like rangers.
  • Here’s a list of hunter trainers and abilities for quick reference.

How do you know if you’re In Range of an enemy? If you look at your ranged abilities on your action bar, the number will be white if you’re In Range and red if you’re not. A helpful addon for this is Nudge.

Tip: Keep stocked on ammo, whether it be bullets or arrows. You can tell how much you have left by looking at the number on your quiver/ammo pouch at the bottom right of your screen by all your bag buttons.

I’m going to start off at the beginning, of course. Level 1. You just spent 5 minutes perfecting your character’s look and another 20 minutes trying to find a bloody name that hasn’t already been taken. The cut scene ran its course gracefully and you are now standing in the world of Azeroth, waiting to explore. Let’s look at what you start off with.

Level 1

Parry – gives you a chance to parry melee attacks. Pretty self-explanatory.

Auto Shoot – This is a unique hunter talent. Greatly overlooked by most hunters but incredible to those who normally play other classes. Where other classes would have to press a button over and over again to unload that ammo, we do it naturally. You will forget about it later but oh, you shall wish for it when your warrior readies his gun.

Throw – Why they give hunters the ability to throw weapons when they already have Auto Shoot, I will never now. Maybe it’s for those fringe hunters that like to do things completely different from what’s expected.

Raptor Strike – When it comes to melee (and you will have lots of that before you get your pet), Raptor Strike is your friend. Just about your only friend too. This class is not made for melee (some experiments have been done though) and we come with very few melee abilities (Four to be exact. Disengage doesn’t count). So when your target is within 5 yards of you, spam this as often as possible.

Suggested Plan of Attack: Stand as far back as you can from your target and still be able to shoot it. Start with Auto Shoot and if the mob runs closer to you, you can either back away slowly, being sure not to interrupt the shots, or you can hold your ground. Once the mob is within melee range, use Raptor Strike as often as possible until the fights finished.

Level 2

You’ve reached level 2 more quickly than you thought, killing only a handful of boars (newbie areas always seem to be full of boars). Time to visit the hunter trainer. Yes, you have to go already. From now on, you will be visiting this mentor every second level, because these are the levels when you learn your new abilities.

Track Beasts – This is the one ability you can learn at this level but ooooooh, how great it is. This is your first tracking ability. Basically, it allows to “see” all the beasts that are within range on your mini-map. They show up as little red dots on it. So not only does this allow you to identify different mobs in your immediate area (mouse-over the dots to see their names) but you can also use this information to do what I call “threading the needle”. Basically it’s making your way through an area of mobs without having to engage any of them. All you need to know it about how far away you have to be from them so that they don’t notice you and then you just race through the gaps. An extremely handy skill to have when you’re in a forested area and mobs may be hiding behind the next tree. Any tracking ability stays on until you change them or die.
Edit: This ability is actually available at level 1 but by the time you collect enough money to get it from the trainer, chances are you’re already level 2 anyways.
Level 4

Yes, you’ve made it through level 2 and 3 to level 4. Hopefully by now, you’re getting a handle on some of the basics of being a hunter.

Aspect of the Monkey – Your very first aspect. Aspects are also exclusive to hunters. Basically they are spells that allow you to take on a characteristic of an animal. They stay on until you change them, die, or mount/dismount. In this case, Aspect of the Monkey increases your chance to dodge by 8%, like increasing your dexterity (think Neo from the Matrix). This of course is best used in melee combat, which again you will be doing a lot of until you get your pet. Later on, it will used to activate certain melee attack abilities but that’s further down the road. Since this will be your only aspect until level 10, there is no harm whatsoever in keeping it on the entire time.

Serpent Sting – Your first sting. A sting is a nature-based ranged attack that does something over a certain amount of time. In the case of Serpent Sting, it does nature damage over time. At this level/rank, it does 20 damage over 15 seconds. This does not mean that it gives 20 damage each second for 15 seconds. It means that a total of 20 damage will be split over 15 seconds, which is approximately 1.3 damage per second. Serpent Sting is not the most powerful ability that hunters have but every little bit of damage helps. Only one sting can be used at a time and they do not stack (using them over and over again before the 15 second timer runs out will not double or triple its damage).

Suggested Plan of Attack: Make sure Aspect of the Monkey is on. Start off with a Serpent Sting. Your Auto Shoot will start and continue all by itself. Once the mob gets into melee range, use Raptor Strike as often as you can.

So, that’s levels 1-5 covered (level 5 wasn’t explicitly covered because you’d use the same abilities and plan of attack as level 4). I hope this has been informational and that if I’m missing anything, you will post comments below.

Next time, I’ll cover levels 6-10. Until then, happy hunting!