Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beginner Guide to Hunters - Chapter 2: Talent Tree Basics

Chapter 2 - Azeroth has Talent(trees)

In this chapter we will discuss the basics of talent trees, the different talents contained within them, and their effects on the hunter. We will discuss end-game (raiding) talent trees in the spec specific chapters later on in this guide.

Talent trees are the back bone of all classes. Here is where the magic happens, where the decision is made of what kind of player you want to be. A hunter has it a little easier than other classes, in the fact that no matter which specialization of the talent tree a hunter chooses, his primary role within the game usually stays the same. The only thing that changes is how the hunter goes about doing his business.

At level 10 a new player will receive a talent point. During the leveling process you will obtain more talent points until you reach a total of 41 at level 85. These talent points can then be spent in your talent tree to unlock new abilities or statistical bonuses. Be aware that once you choose a specialization you will be forced to spend at least 31 points in that particular tree before being allowed to branch out into another tree. So for the majority of the leveling process you will be stuck within one and the same talent tree.

At this point in time a new hunter may decide to simply just go online and look up the best leveling spec around, and if you are a veteran player who knows all about talent trees from other specs then sure go ahead. But if you are new to the game I suggest to spend a little time learning about talent trees yourself and let the game decide for you.

When you first gain a talent point you can press N to open up your talent tree window at which point you should be greeted with the summary window. Here you can see the three different specs available to choose from, their primary role within the game and its mastery bonus (more on this in the stats chapter). For a hunter every single spec is a competent leveling spec, with Beast mastery and Marksman often preferred.

When spending points within the talent tree there are a number of limitations that will influence your decision. First, you must start at the top of the tree and work your way sequentially down the tiers. Secondly, unlocking new tiers is limited to the amount of points already spend. For instance to unlock the second tier of talents you need to have spent at least 5 points in the first, but to unlock the third tier you need to have spent a total of  10 points in either tier one or two. All talent trees have 7 tiers, with the seventh being a single final ability that defines the spec.

Once talent points are spent and learned, it costs gold at the class trainer to make changes, and to make changes you will have to start from scratch. So be careful in making your choices as mistakes can end up being costly ones.

When deciding on which spec to choose, a new player must consider all advantages and disadvantages of the spec. As mentioned earlier all 3 specs are designed to be DPS specs as that is the hunters primary focus, but the 3 specs do go about it in different ways.

The different specs
Beast Mastery, as the name implies, is all about your pet. Most talents in this tree are about improving your companion and less about the hunter. This is fantastic for leveling as you can have your pet do all the dirty work for you. However its strength is also its biggest weakness. Should the pet die the hunter will lose almost half of his damage output and be left very vulnerable. This spec is very much a double-edged sword, and remains such even in end-game content.

Marksmanship on the other hand, is all about improving the hunter's physical damage output. It is an extremely effective single target DPS spec, capable of dealing a lot of damage very quickly. For leveling in particular it is a popular spec as it is capable of killing mobs with only 1-2 shots. Marksmanship, with its heavy reliance on Steady Shot and the long cast time Aimed Shot, is the least effective when it comes to movement heavy fights. It's shot rotation is also the most complex of the 3 specs.

Survival is the final spec and it too, is all about improving the hunter. Again as the name implies it does so not just by buffing the damage but also the hunters survivability and utility through use of traps and other means. Survival is also the best AoE spec of the 3. it is the least popular of the specs in terms of leveling, because of its tendency to generate a lot of threat, meaning mobs are likely to go after the hunter rather than his pet. It, is however a very popular end-game spec, as it is extremely competent in all raid situations.

Choosing talents
So we have decided on a spec and it is time to spend our hard earned talent points. When spending talent points we have to consider what is best for the character and what will make leveling easier. Also consider that there 3 ways to level and each would require a different build, the 3 ways being Questing, Dungeons and PvP (there is a 4th way with Archaeology but seriously).

When choosing questing as your way to level you will want to find talents increase your damage output, but also talents that may help your or your pets survivability. Hunters are very capable of taking on Group quests on their own if talented properly. Questing is by far the most lenient way to level in terms of forgiveness towards the talents.

Dungeons are instances which contain difficult groups of mobs and boss fights designed to introduce the player to what it will be like once at end-game content. it will introduce all sorts of different fight mechanics as well as introduce players to fulfilling their class's particular role in a group environment. That means for a hunter it is the role of DPS and Crowd Controller. If the player chooses to level up through dungeon runs, all talents should be chosen with increasing damage output in mind. Only if no DPS increasing talents are available and more points are needed to unlock the next tier, should a survivability or utility talent be chosen.

If the player would like to level up through PvP then a certain balance is required between damage, survivability and utility. Because not only will a hunter be dealing damage in a PvP environment but also must he survive long enough to do this and be able to control the damage or healing output of his target. Ideally a hunter would choose either Marksman or Survival as a PvP leveling spec as only those two provide a good balance of Damage, utility and Survivability, with Survival providing it's utility and Survivability bonuses a lot earlier in the tree than Marksman.

So finally lets have a look at all the different talents available.

Beastmastery overview

Tier 1

Improved Kill Command - Rank 0/2
 - Increase the critical strike chance of your Kill Command by 5/10%.

This talent is a staple of the Beastmaster tree with Kill Command being the signature ability. DPS increasing talent.

One With Nature - Rank 0/3
 - Increases the attack power bonus of your Aspect of the Hawk by 10/20/30%, and increases the amount of focus restored by your Aspect of the Fox by 1/2/3.

Used by all endgame specs. DPS increasing talent. Useful in all situations.

Bestial Discipline - Rank 0/3
 - Increases the Focus regeneration of your pets by 10/20/30%.

DPS increasing talent. Used in Beastmaster and Marksman endgame specs.

Tier 2

Pathfinding - Rank 0/2
 - Increases the speed bonus of your Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack by 4/8% and increases your speed while mounted by 5/10%, The mounted movement speed increase does not stack with other effects.

Useful leveling talent only. Quicker movement makes leveling faster.

Spirit Bond - Rank 0/2
 - While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate 1/2% of total health every 10 sec., and increases healing done to you and your pet by 5/10%.

This talent can be useful for leveling if you find you and your pet are dying to quick. Not really used in endgame raiding. Survivability talent. Also commonly used for Solo Pet Tanking specs.

Frenzy - Rank 0/3
 - Your pet gains 2/4/6% attack speed after attacking with a Basic Attack, lasting for 10 sec and stacking up to 5 times.

DPS increasing talent. Staple for Beastmaster and Marksman Raiding specs.

Improved Mend Pet - Rank 0/2
 - Gives the Mend Pet ability a 25/50% chance of cleansing 1 Curse, Disease, Magic or Poison effect from the pet each tick.

Survivability talent. A weak talent with situational use only. Popular in Solo Pet Tanking specs.

Tier 3

Cobra Strikes - Rank 0/3
 - You have a 5/10/15% chance when you hit with Arcane Shot to cause your pet's next 2 Basic Attacks to critically hit.

DPS increasing talent. Staple for Beastmaster raid specs. Useful for leveling and PvP also.

Fervor - 2 min cooldown
 - Instantly restores 50 Focus to you and your pet.

Special ability. Increases DPS. Allround useful.

Focus Fire - 15 sec cooldown
 - Consumes your pet's Frenzy Effect stack, restoring 4 Focus to your pet and increasing your ranged haste by 3% for each Frenzy Effect stack consumed. Lasts for 15 sec.

Special Ability. Increases DPS. Allround useful.

Tier 4

Longevity - Rank 0/3
 - Reduces the cooldown of your Bestial Wrath, Intimidation and Pet Special Abilities by 10/20/30%.

DPS increasing talent. Beastmaster raiding staple. Must have in any spec using Bestial Wrath.

Killing Streak - Rank 0/2
 - When you score two Kill Command critical hits in a row, your third will deal 10/20% more damage and have its cost reduced by 10 focus.

DPS increasing talent. Again great synergy with BM signature ability Kill Command. Less important for leveling though.

Tier 5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera - Rank 0/2
 - Whenever you are hit by a melee attack, the cooldown of your Disengage is instantly reduced by 2/4 sec.

- Whenever you are hit by a ranged attack or spell, the cooldown of your Deterrence is instantly reduced by 4/8 sec.

- These effects have a 2 sec cooldown.

Survivability talent. Definitely designed with PvP in mind.

Bestial Wrath - 100 yd range - 2 min cooldown
 - Send your pet into a rage causing 20% additional damage for 10 sec.  The beast does not feel pity or remorse or fear and it cannot be stopped unless killed.

Special Ability. Besides Kill Command, probably the ability that defines Beastmastery. If building a beastmaster spec this is a must have. Useful in all aspects of play be it raiding, leveling, PvP, etc.

Ferocious Inspiration - Passive
 - All party and raid members have all damage increased by 3% within 100 yards of your pet.

DPS increasing talent. This is the trees raid buff. Therefore a must have in raid specs. Less important in leveling and PvP but still useful.

Tier 6

Kindred Spirits - Rank 0/2
 - Increases you and your pets maximum focus by 5/10.

DPS increasing talent. A solid talent useful in all spec scenarios.

The Beast Within
 - While your pet is under the effects of Bestial Wrath, you also go into a rage causing 10% additional damage and reducing the focus cost of all shots and abilities by 50% for 10 sec.

This talent goes hand in hand with Bestial Wrath and should be considered as useful. DPS increasing talent.

Invigoration - Rank 0/2
 - When your pet scores a critical hit with a Basic Attack, you instantly regenerate 3/6 focus.

DPS increasing talent. Popular in raid specs. Not essential in leveling or PvP.

Tier 7

Beast Mastery - Passive
- You master the art of Beast training, teaching you the ability to tame Exotic pets and increasing your total amount of Pet Skill Points by 4.

DPS increasing talent. makes your pets significantly superior to all other spec pets. If building a BM spec, this is what you build towards.

Marksmanship overview

Tier 1

Go for the Throat - Rank 0/2
- Your ranged auto-shot critical hits cause your pet to generate 10 Focus.

DPS increasing talent. Used in all raid specs. Not essential in leveling situations.

Efficiency - Rank 0/3
- Reduces the focus cost of your Arcane Shot by 3, and your Explosive Shot and Chimera Shot by 6.

DPS increasing talent. Solid talent in a world where focus management is paramount. Staple for almost all raid specs and leveling specs.

Rapid Killing - Rank 0/2
 - After killing an opponent that yields experience or honor, your next Aimed Shot, Steady Shot or Cobra Shot causes 10% additional damage. lasts 20 sec.

DPS increasing talent. Useful for leveling where mobs are killed in quick succession. Optional for raiding specs as its usefulness would be primarily for Trash groups.

Tier 2

Sic 'Em - Rank 0/2
 - When you critcally hit with your Arcane Shot, Aimed Shot or Explosive Shot the focus cost of your Pet's next basic attack is reduced by 50/100% for 12 sec.

DPS increasing talent. Much better talent than one might expect. Popular in almost all raid specs. less important in leveling specs but still useful.

Improved Steady Shot - Rank 0/3
 - When you Steady Shot twice in a row, your ranged attack speed will be increased by 5/10/15% for 8 sec.

One of the most important talents for MM raid specs. DPS increasing talent.

Careful Aim - Rank 0/2
 - Increases the critical strike chance of your Steady Shot, Cobra Shot and Aimed Shot by 30/60% on targets who are above 80% health.(90% after 4.2)

Very good raid talent. Will be slightly nerfed in 4.2, enough for Survival and BM to consider using a different talent, but still must have for MM raid specs. Not very good for leveling where mobs stay above 80% for less than a second.

Tier 3

Silencing Shot - 35 Focus - 20 sec cooldown
 - A shot that silences the target and interrupts spellcasting for 3 sec.

Utility talent. Popular in raid and PvP specs. Also useful in leveling specs but not essential.

Concussive Barrage - Rank 0/2
 - Your successful Chimera Shot and Multi Shot attacks have a 50/100% chance to daze the target for 4 sec.

Utility talent. Ideal for leveling and farming. Also useful in PvP. Less popular in raid specs.

Piercing Shots - Rank 0/3
 - Your critical Aimed, Steady and Chimera Shots cause the target to bleed for 10% of the damage dealt over 8 sec.

DPS increasing talent. Solid MM talent.

Tier 4

Bombardment - Rank 0/2
 - When you critically hit with your Multi-Shot your next Multi-Shot's focus cost will be reduced by 25/50%.

DPS increasing talent. Popular in MM raid specs to improve AoE capabilities. Also useful in leveling and PvP, but considered optional for all.

Trueshot Aura
 - Increases the attack power of party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%.

DPS increasing talent. THis is the MM raid buff. Useful if not already provided in raid.

Termination - Rank 0/2
 - Your Steady Shot and Cobra Shot abilities grant an additional 3/6 Focus when dealt on targets at or below 25%.

DPS increasing talent. Optional in MM raid specs. Not that useful in leveling specs.

Resistance is Futile - Rank 0/2
 - When your marked target attempts to run, flee or move, you have a 4/8% chance to cause your next Kill Command on the marked target within 8 sec to refund the focus cost.

DPS increasing talent. Optional in MM raid specs. Useful for leveling and PvP.

Tier 5

Rapid Recuperation - Rank 0/2
 - You gain 6/12 focus every 3 sec while under the effect of Rapid Fire, and you gain 25 Focus instantly when you gain Rapid killing.

DPS increasing talent. Really amplifies Rapid Fire phases. Very good in raid environments.

Master Marksman - Rank 0/3
 - You have a 20/40/60% chance when you Steady Shot to gain the Master Marksman effect lasting 30 sec. After reaching 5 stacks, your next Aimed Shot's cast time and focus cost are reduced by 100% for 10 sec.

DPS increasing talent. MM raid staple.

Readiness - 3 min cooldown
 - When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on all Hunter abilities.

Special Ability. DPS increasing talent. Very good MM talent in all situations. Must have if building MM spec, regardless of purpose.

Tier 6

Posthaste - Rank 0/2
 - Reduces the cooldown of your Rapid Fire by 1 min, and your movement speed is increased by 15% for 4 sec after you use Disengage.

DPS increasing talent. Very strong raid and PvP talent. Also useful in leveling situations.

Marked for Death - Rank 0/2
 - Your Arcane Shot and Chimera Shot have a 50/100% chance to automatically apply the Marked for Death effect. Marked for Death is the same as Hunter's Mark but undispellable, does not restrict stealth or invisibility and lasts 15 sec.

Utility talent. Often used in raid specs, but really just optional. Not very good on single target fights but exceptional on trash groups and target switching fights as well as PvP.

Tier 7

Chimera Shot - 50 Focus - 10 sec cooldown
 - An instant shot that causes ranged weapon damage plus 1620, refreshing the duration of your Serpent Sting and healing you for 5% of your total health.

Signature Ability. Big damage, enough said.

Survival overview

Tier 1

Hunter vs. Wild            - Rank 0/3
Increases your total Stamina by 5/10/15%.

Survivability talent. Very popular in PvP builds and leveling builds. Optional talent for raid builds.

Pathing            - Rank 0/3
- Increases ranged haste by 1/2/3%.

DPS increasing talent. Must have in all raid builds. Very good for all purposes.
Improved Serpent Sting - Rank 0/2
- Your Serpent Sting also does instant damage equal to 15/30% of its total periodic effect.

- Also increases the periodic critical strike chance of your Serpent Sting by 5/10%.

DPS increasing talent. Strong for Survival builds, but better options are available for MM or BM specs.

Tier 2

Survival Tactics - Rank 0/2
- Reduces the chance that your trap spells will be resisted by 4%, and reduces the cooldown of your Disengage ability by 4 sec.

Survivability talent. Vey useful for PvP and leveling specs.

Trap Mastery - Rank 3
 - Ice Trap and Freezing Trap - Increases the duration by 30%.

 - Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap and Black Arrow - Increases the periodic damage done by 30%.

 - Snake Trap - Increases the number of snakes summoned by 6.

Allround talent. Very strong in any situation. Should be taken in any Survival spec.

Entrapment - Rank 0/2
- When your Ice Trap or Snake Trap are triggered you entrap all afflicted targets, preventing them from moving for 2/4 sec.

Utility talent. Useful for raid specs. Very good for PvP and leveling specs.

Point of No Escape - Rank 0/2
- Increases the ranged critical strike chance of all of your attacks on targets affected by your Ice Trap and Freezing Trap by 3/6%.

DPS increasing talent. Optional for raid specs. useful for PvP.


Tier 3

Thrill of the Hunt - Rank 0/3
- You have a 5/10/15% chance when you use Arcane Shot, Explosive Shot or Black Arrow to instantly regain 40% of the base focus cost of the shot.

DPS increasing talent. Survival raid staple.

Counterattack - Melee Range - 5 sec cooldown
- A strike that becomes active after parrying an opponent's attack.  This attack deals AP*0.2+320 damage and immobilizes the target for 5 sec.  Counterattack cannot be blocked, dodged, or parried.

Special Ability. PvP Talent. May have some use when leveling.

Lock and Load - Rank 0/2
- You have a 50/100% chance when you trap a target with Freezing Trap or Ice Trap to cause your next 2 Arcane Shot or Explosive Shot abilities to cost no focus and trigger no cooldown. Effect lasts for 12 sec.         

DPS increasing talent. Goes hand in hand with Signature Shot (Explosive Shot). Should always be taken when building a Survival spec.

Tier 4

Resourcefulness - Rank 0/3
 - Reduces the cooldown of all traps and Black Arrow by 2/4/6 sec.

DPS increasing talent. Average talent, mostly used because nothing better is available in raid specs. Very useful in PvP situations however.

Mirrored Blades - Rank 0/2
 - When attacked by a spell while in Deterrence, you have a 50/100% chance to reflect it back at the attacker.

Survivability talent. Very good PvP talent. less important in leveling specs. Unused in raiding specs.

T.N.T. - Rank 0/2
 - When you deal periodic damage with your Immolation Trap, Explosive Trap or Black Arrow you have a 6/12% chance to trigger Lock and Load.

DPS increasing talent. Same importance as Lock and Load.

Tier 5

Toxicology - Rank 0/2
 - Increases the periodic critical damage of your Serpent Sting and Black Arrow by 50/100%.

DPS increasing talent. Due to Serpent Sting's importance in survival specs, this is a strong talent for Survival builds.

Wyvern Sting - 10 Focus - 1 min cooldown
- A stinging shot that puts the target to sleep for 30 sec.  Any damage will cancel the effect.  When the target wakes up, the Sting causes 2736 Nature damage over 6 sec.  Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on the target at a time.

Utility and DPS increasing talent. Very good in PvP and leveling situations. Gives extra CC ability in raid environment.

Noxious Stings            - Rank 0/2
 - Increases your ranged damage done on targets afflicted by your Serpent Sting by 5/10%.

 - If Wyvern Sting is dispelled, the dispeller is also afflicted by Wyvern Sting lasting 25/50% of the duration remaining.

Utility and DPS increasing talent. Goes hand in hand with Wyvern Sting. Also very strong in raid environment with Serpent Sting component.

Hunting Party
 - Increases your total Agility by an additional 2%, and increases the Ranged and Melee Attack Speed of all party and raid members by 10%.

DPS increasing talent. Survival raid buff. Must have in Survival raid specs, but also good in leveling and PvP specs.

Tier 6

Sniper Training - Rank 0/3
 - Increases the critical strike chance of your Kill Shot ability by 5/10/15%, and after remaining stationary for 6 sec, your Steady Shot and Cobra Shot deal 2/4/6% more damage for 15 sec.

DPS increasing talent. A staple in all Survival specs.

Serpent Spread - Rank 0/2
- Targets hit by your Multi-Shot are also afflicted by your Serpent Sting equal to 6/9 sec of its total duration.

DPS increasing talent. This is a very strong AoE talent, that turns Survival into one of the best AoE specs around. Very good in raid and leveling situations, less so in PvP.

Tier 7

Black Arrow - 35 Focus - 30 sec cooldown
 - Fires a Black Arrow at the target, dealing 2035 Shadow damage over 15 sec. Black Arrow shares a cooldown with other Fire Trap spells.      

Special Ability. A somewhat weak talent in my opinion, but it will get buffed in 4.2 making it a must have in raid specs. With its potential to proc LnL (through previous talent) it becomes much more important.    

There will be more on specs, specifically raiding and end-game specs in a later chapter. But now that we understand the basics of Talent trees join us again next time when we disect everything you need to know about statistics.

1 comment:

  1. Liking the guides so far and -

    "But if you are new to the game I suggest to spend a little time learning about talent trees yourself and let the game decide for you."

    one of the best piece's of advise ever for new players