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Survival and You
#1
It's sad and depressing to see how un-updated this section is. So I'm going to talk a bit about Survival Hunters. Bear in mind that this commentary is purely from the standpoint of a PvE player.

Survival is an extremely rewarding spec to play. The tree awards its faithful with a number of unique and creative ways to deal with situations that other types of Hunters don't get to enjoy. We lack the immediate damage spike potential of Marksmen, and the frenetic simplicity of Beast Masters, but I'd like to think we have a certain degree of elegance and tactical potential that substantially makes up for it.

First off, we're extremely difficult to kill. Even when your raid wipes, there's a decent to excellent chance that your repair bill won't even take a hit. Even if Feign Death (and its subsequent best friend, Readiness) fails, you've still got the benefit of high health, extremely high agility, and better armor than most other DPS classes. This translates to a very forgiving class, as far as dumb mistakes go. If you stay alive longer, your damage output is better.

Second, we're good for more than just DPS. Survival Hunters are extremely utilitarian. Trap Spec makes us the most reliable CC in the game, and we can also effectively kite. We have more abilities to impede or redirect enemy movement than any other class: Misdirect, Wing Clip, Concussive Shot, Counterattack, Freezing Trap, and Frost Trap all immediately come to mind.

So now, a breakdown of the Survival Talents, and my thoughts on each:

Hawk Eye: Many players firmly believe that this is a must-have; I'm of the opinion that this is highly overrated. Extended range in PvP is great, but in PvE you can take a few steps forward or back to correct range and avoidance of enemy auras. The few extra seconds of shooting that this talent buys you in select situations really isn't worth the talent points. They are better spent elsewhere.

Humanoid/Monster Slaying: Pretty simple and straightforward. Both of these are a good points dump to open up the next tier, but as passive abilities they really don't require much analysis.

Savage Strikes: I'm told that this one is favored by PvP survivalists. The idea is to startle your opponent when they close in with a big melee crit, then Wing Clip them and haul away. As a PvE Survivalist, I'm not a huge fan: if something comes after me, it's because I've made a mistake. Feign Death FTW.

Deflection: Another passive ability, but also a good place to put points. It increases your overall survivability and ultimately should be taken in order to make Counterattack more effective.

Entrapment: Not a place I've ever put points. If I want a target to stop moving, I have a trap that does that automatically. Putting points into giving rarely-used DPS traps a chance of doing the same isn't valuable to me. I want to direct the battle, not be given a chance of getting lucky on something.

Improved Wing Clip: See Entrapment. One of the best things about Survival is that you can really control the direction of a fight. That hinges, however, on having reliable abilities. Wing Clip is great for slowing targets down, and that's good enough for me.

Clever Traps: A given, as far as I'm concerned. The increased duration of the Freezing Traps means that we can now chain-trap targets, keeping them CCed for as long as necessary.

Survivalist: Again, a given. Extra health means you stay alive longer and survive unlucky situations. This, in turn, increases DPS, because a dead hunter contributes nothing to a raid.

Deterrence: Such a good, good talent. It virtually guarantees a counterattack, and can totally save your bacon.

Trap Mastery: If you take Clever Traps, you might as well grab this one too. It makes you an even more effective CCer, and since you need to grab a mob's aggro to CC it, then you don't want to fail to trap it.

Surefooted: Good because it opens up your gear options. The resist snare ability isn't really all that relevant to a PvEer, but with Surefooted you can choose Agility, Attack Power, and Crit rating over Hit rating gear.

Improved Feign Death: Vital, for reasons that should be self-evident. The tree is called "survival" for a reason.

Killer Instinct: So much of Survival's DPS comes from crits. This is a great talent, and pairs very well with the Marksmanship first-tier talent Lethal Shots.

Counterattack: Fantastic ability. Coupled with Deterrence and Deflection, you can turn a melee attack on its head by rooting the enemy in place.

Resourcefulness: The mana boost is nice, but the improved cooldown on traps can make your CC much more effective, and save you burning the cooldown on your Readiness.

Lightning Reflexes: An absolute must. Agi increases your attack power, crit rating, and armor. Most importantly of all, it increases the bonus from Expose Weakness, which is arguably the best raid DPS debuff in the game.

Thrill of the Hunt: A decent talent, if you have mana issues. You'll be critting a lot, so you'll be getting a lot of mana back.

Wyvern Sting: A silly ability if you don't PvP. It can make a nice backup if your trap fails, but when the Sleep wears off the mob will become extremely hard to CC due to the DoT. Clever players will knock the DoT off with a non-DoT Sting, like Viper or Scorpid.

Expose Weakness: This is the reason that your friends want you to play Survival. Expose Weakness is phenomenal because it applies a debuff to the enemy rather than a buff to the party: EVERYONE in the raid benefits, rather than just your party. This is especially huge in 25-mans. Given the crit rate of most well-geared Survival Hunters, you can more or less count on this Debuff being in place for the duration of the fight.

Master Tactitian: Crits are the backbone of the Survival Class, and anything that increases your Crit chance is super super good.

Readiness: The potential of this ability is only limited by its cooldown. I can't say how many times Readiness has saved my life, either with a second chance at Feign Death, or setting down a new trap. Readiness takes your utilitarian abilities and makes them almost completely reliable.
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#2
Gearing is, fortunately, extremely straightforward for Survival Hunters.

First off, your A-Number-One trait to gear for is Agility. This class is built around scoring crits and applying Expose Weakness to targets. Agility improves both of these, as well as increasing your attack power, Dodge rating, and armor. The current gold standard for an endgame Survival Hunter is to have an unbuffed Agility of around 800.

Coming in tied for second and third is Attack Power and Crit rating. Attack Power, obviously, increases your overall DPS. Crit rating does this as well, and also increases your chances of benefiting from things like Expose Weakness or Thrill of the Hunt.

Hit rating is important as well, but if you have Surefooted you will cap out considerably earlier.

Armor rating is something you can take a hit on, if you see a really nice piece of Rogue gear. With the benefits of increased health, increased armor due to high agility, and abilities to direct the flow of battle, you shouldn't be too afraid of taking a hit in the armor department. If a piece of Leather is an upgrade, go for it.

A word on Haste: Haste is not universally good for us. Read the post below, but in essence, careful control of the speed of your weapon (and intimate knowledge of said speed) is crucial to effective DPS. Check it out.
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#3
Abilities:

Survival or no, the primary role of any Hunter is ranged DPS. Survivalists make fantastic CCers and guerilla fighters, but when you're not shooting, you're wasting time.

Your first, primary source of damage is going to be, of course, Auto Shot. Second to this is Steady Shot, and the two of these abilities must be wielded masterfully and timed perfectly to make the most of your ranged damage potential.

The relationship between Auto Shot and Steady Shot is complex and requires some careful consideration:

Auto Shot ticks based on the speed of your weapon, modified for haste. It costs zero mana, but it does have an invisible but all-important cost: time (and ammo, but let's not worry about that now).

Steady Shot has costs you 110 mana and 1 second to cast. It does NOT reset your Auto Shot timer, but if it is being channeled when Auto Shot is supposed to tick, it will delay the Auto Shot until after the Steady Shot is released.

Therefore, it is crucial to time your Steady Shots in such a way that they do not hold up your Auto Shots. However, bear in mind that Auto Shot is not as instant as it seems. It has an "invisible" cast time of 0.5 seconds, the time it takes for the game to determine that you are standing still and doing nothing.

This means that you must begin casting Steady Shot no later than 1.5 seconds before the next tick of Auto Shot, but preferably sooner. 1.5 seconds before Auto Shot is your absolute last chance to hit Steady before you enter into delaying your next Auto Shot.

So now you need to take two factors into consideration in this deadly dance: weapon speed as adjusted for Haste, and latency. Both of these factors will have a major impact in how and when you use your abilities. Listen closely to the sound of your weapon shooting, and develop a sense of rhythm.

Now, a look at how other crucial Hunter abilities factor into this:

Arcane Shot: Very easy to squeeze in. Instant cast, so it won't interfere with Auto. Universal Cooldown will interrupt your Steady Shot, so hit this one immediately after Steady, whenever it's available.

Multi-Shot: Again, this one looks like it's instant-cast, but really has the same "invisible" cast time of 0.5 seconds. So unless you have a weapon speed of 2.0 or greater, you won't be using this one much. Which will make the mages happy, anyway. Most Survival Hunters, though, will have nice slow shooting speeds, so Multi-Shot away, Mages be damned.

Kill Command: Squeak these in whenever possible. The only time you won't be able to hit it is when you're channeling a Steady. As often as you'll be critting, these add up quick.

Serpent Sting: Keep this one up. It's amazing how much much 50 extra DPS adds up.

Rapid Fire/Troll berserking/any other Haste-increasing ability: These can be problematic. Because so much of what we do is based on being intimately familiar with the timing of abilities, anything that changes that timing can throw you into disarray. For now, I consider these abilities to be mana conservators rather than DPS enhancers: they let me stop using Steady and instead focus on a faster Auto and a few Arcanes and Multies, without taking a massive DPS hit.


A word on melee:

Yes, we can do it better than Marksmen and Beastmasters. But that doesn't mean that we SHOULD. Again, the tree is called Survival for a reason: we can Survive that which would kill others, and we can move away to strike from an advantageous position again. Almost universally, Survival melee talents are used to best effect to retreat from and escape melee, and to control the movement of the enemy. Savage Strikes plus Raptor Strike does not make us into Rogues.
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#4
Sreng Wrote:It's sad and depressing to see how un-updated this section is. So I'm going to talk a bit about Survival Hunters. Bear in mind that this commentary is purely from the standpoint of a PvE player.

Survival is an extremely rewarding spec to play. The tree awards its faithful with a number of unique and creative ways to deal with situations that other types of Hunters don't get to enjoy. We lack the immediate damage spike potential of Marksmen, and the frenetic simplicity of Beast Masters, but I'd like to think we have a certain degree of elegance and tactical potential that substantially makes up for it.

First off, we're extremely difficult to kill. Even when your raid wipes, there's a decent to excellent chance that your repair bill won't even take a hit. Even if Feign Death (and its subsequent best friend, Readiness) fails, you've still got the benefit of high health, extremely high agility, and better armor than most other DPS classes. This translates to a very forgiving class, as far as dumb mistakes go. If you stay alive longer, your damage output is better.

Second, we're good for more than just DPS. Survival Hunters are extremely utilitarian. Trap Spec makes us the most reliable CC in the game, and we can also effectively kite. We have more abilities to impede or redirect enemy movement than any other class: Misdirect, Wing Clip, Concussive Shot, Counterattack, Freezing Trap, and Frost Trap all immediately come to mind.

I agree completely with these statements. I could not have said it any better than Sreng has put it here. As for talents...everyones opinion is different for that topic, but for me, you cannot go wrong 61pt Survival....That is all. Thanks Sreng for the supportive words for Survival Hunters!
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#5
Sreng Wrote:Hawk Eye: Many players firmly believe that this is a must-have; I'm of the opinion that this is highly overrated. Extended range in PvP is great, but in PvE you can take a few steps forward or back to correct range and avoidance of enemy auras.

For 5-mans, definitely. For Kara/Gruuls/Magtheridon, agree. For Zul'Aman and up though, Hawk Eye is a really, really good talent. ZA and 25-mans all have fights where that extra bit of range is going to really help keep you alive, or perform some important part of a coordination fight.

Quote:if something comes after me, it's because I've made a mistake. Feign Death FTW.
Quote:Deflection: Another passive ability, but also a good place to put points. It increases your overall survivability and ultimately should be taken in order to make Counterattack more effective.
Quote:Deterrence: Such a good, good talent. It virtually guarantees a counterattack, and can totally save your bacon.
Quote:Counterattack: Fantastic ability. Coupled with Deterrence and Deflection, you can turn a melee attack on its head by rooting the enemy in place.

That part confused me though. You're avoiding one talent because if something's attacking you you've made a mistake, but then invest 7 points that will only ever help you if that exact thing happens. I agree that Savage Strikes is terrible, but I'm not sure 7 talent points for melee-defense is a good idea. Like you said, FD ftw Big Grin

Quote:Expose Weakness, which is arguably the best raid DPS debuff in the game.

Definitely one of the better buffs, but an Improved Crusader Judgement is 3% crit for the raid, rather than a straight up AP bonus for physical dps. It's pretty much king for raid debuffs Wink Definitely worth maxing out Expose Weakness for a raid though. +175 AP or so is nice, and will be around two hundred extra DPS overall for a 25-man raid. Smile The big reason why it's such a nice debuff is that it requires no effort on behalf of the hunter, heh.

Quote:Wyvern Sting: A silly ability if you don't PvP. It can make a nice backup if your trap fails, but when the Sleep wears off the mob will become extremely hard to CC due to the DoT. Clever players will knock the DoT off with a non-DoT Sting, like Viper or Scorpid.

I've seen hunters use this /really/ well in raids, actually. The sleep duration is plenty of time for an off-tank to grab something. Only something I'd use as a raiding hunter though.

Quote:Expose Weakness: This is the reason that your friends want you to play Survival.

Noes! I like my survival hunters for the traps. EW is a nice bonus :p

Quote:EVERYONE in the raid benefits

All physical dps. It's a great debuff, don't get me wrong, but if your raid is light on physical dps, it's value goes down a bit.
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Dromand (70 Tank/Healing Paladin), Logros (70 Enhancement Shaman), Denul (70 Shadow Priest), Bendon (70 AH-Mule Rogue)
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#6
Logros Wrote:
Sreng Wrote:EVERYONE in the raid benefits

All physical dps. It's a great debuff, don't get me wrong, but if your raid is light on physical dps, it's value goes down a bit.

I think he meant that regardless of which group you're in, if you're physical DPS you'd get affected. Unlike feral druid's Leader of the Pack, BM hunter's Ferocious Inspiration, Shaman's totems, Shamanistic Rage and Blood Lust which requires you to be in group with said person.

So while for a 10 man where you may not have a whole lot of room for melee DPS, in, let's say, Gruul's, where you may find yourself with a handful of warriors, hunters, rogues and enhancement shamans, feral druids it can really shine for the raid.

/2c
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#7
Right on, Logros. Sorry about the confusion regarding Deflection/Deterrence and Savage Strikes.

The reason that Deflection and Deterrence are important is because of Counterattack. In a raid situation, in the off-chance that I pull aggro, I'll almost universally feign death. However, in a solo PvE situation or some raid situations (like kiting and chain trapping) Counterattack is a better choice: it locks the enemy in place, freeing you to run and continue DPSing without losing any aggro via Feign Death.

You still want to avoid melee at most times, but when it does happen, Counterattack is an important part of a Survival Hunter's repertoire to address it.
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#8
Gra'zak Wrote:I think he meant that regardless of which group you're in, if you're physical DPS you'd get affected.

Yar, for sure. Anyone know if it stacks with itself?

Quote:some raid situations (like kiting and chain trapping) Counterattack is a better choice

Aha, gotcha. Actually, I can see that being /really/ nice for situations where you have to keep a trap going - if you FD, the mob you've got trapped is going to go eat a healer.
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Dromand (70 Tank/Healing Paladin), Logros (70 Enhancement Shaman), Denul (70 Shadow Priest), Bendon (70 AH-Mule Rogue)
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#9
Logros Wrote:
Gra'zak Wrote:I think he meant that regardless of which group you're in, if you're physical DPS you'd get affected.

Yar, for sure. Anyone know if it stacks with itself?


I am pretty sure Expose Weakness does not stack. One EW only on a target. Then again I dont think I have ever seen two hunters in the same party with EW *ponders*
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#10
It does not stack, which leaves it to having one survival hunter is enough. More would not benefit the raid at all. Unless of course trapping comes into play, but most raids I ahve seen so far, trapping was kept to a minimum in favor of easier to reup CC
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#11
The general guildeline I've seen for "raiding" survival hunters is that they're only useful once their agility reaches ~600. At that point, the amount of DPS lost by leaving BM or MM is made up for by an average raid's physical damage boost from expose weakness. Like Ghol said, though, the debuff doesn't stack and most 25-man raids have either 0 or 1 survival hunter.
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