For those familiar with extreme soloing strategies, not much has changed. This is just a MoP facelift to Frost’s existing soloing guide, for the new MoP guides page.
When we talk about Extreme Hunter Soloing, we’re talking about just hunter and pet soloing instances on normal mode, or instances from previous expansions, including 40-man raids from vanilla or BC. We are not talking about questing or leveling — that’s just soloing. We don’t consider doing a group quest two levels higher than you extreme soloing, because that’s just what we expect from the hunter class.
This guide will go over some of the basic concepts of hunter extreme soloing, and other guides will go into detail on the builds and gear and fight-specific strategies.
The Magic Ratio
The ideal in extreme soloing is for the hunter to be able to heal more damage than the pet takes. If you can hit that magical ratio, then you are going to win. It doesn’t matter how long it takes: as long as you can heal more damage than your pet takes, you’ll eventually wear the boss down.
On the surface this means that we’re interested in two things: pet damage mitigation, and our hunter’s ability to heal the pet. Mitigation comes to some extent from the hunter gear, but mostly from the hunter and pet talent choices. Healing comes from talents and glyphs, but also a significant chunk comes from stamina.
Your pet gets a portion of the hunter’s stamina (note: stamina, not health). You also have some glyphs and talents that will lend some healing.
Now the problem with the magic ratio comes in fights where you yourself take damage, from unavoidable AoE or random targeted attacks that ignore the aggro target. Your pet has lots of healing, and you have very little (though it was boosted considerably for MoP). So while we do have some healing, it’s still not much and these fights are the ones that usually require clever tactics.
So basically when you’re planning for extreme soloing, you are concerned with three things: pet damage mitigation (dodge, parry, armor, crit reduction, and to some extent expertise), pet healing ability, and pet health (gained through hunter stamina, as well as talents).
Four Basic Strats
I’ve found there are four basic strategies that I use to deal with extreme soloing bosses. These strategies will alter your talent and glyph choices occasionally, so it’s very important to know which one of these strategies you’re using in a given fight. These are:
- Tank & Spank: You send your pet in and you shoot. You keep up mend pet, and you heal more damage than your pet takes. The fight is eventually won. This covers a surprising amount of extreme soloing fights. These fights are basically just a simple check of your gear and your talent choices.
- Burn: sometimes your pet is taking slightly more damage than you can heal, often on bosses with mini-bosses, or groups of mobs. In these fights it’s important to single target burn down one of them as fast as possible, so that your healing can once again out heal the incoming damage.
- Superpet: on fights where there is AoE or other unavoidable damage that you take yourself, a solid strategy is often to just let your pet do all the tanking, and all the dpsing. Typically this works by sending your pet in, and then running out of range of the damage. You then sit just out of range, and step in every time you need to refresh mend pet, then run back out. If you take a bit of damage, you can bandage while waiting for the next Mend Pet. This is the strat that was traditionally used for the twins in Utgarde Keep, or Gehennes in Molten Core. A variant of this Frost used on Onyxia, which is just to feign death and let the pet do the tanking, dpsing, and healing – but this is likely to only work on vanilla or BC bosses where the incoming damage is very low.
- Kiting: every now and then you find a boss where the best strat is just to kite him. You set your pet aside, and jump shot kite the boss to death. Keristrasza in the Nexus is a perfect example of a kiting boss.
Don’t Worry About Threat
Again, the two things you’re worried about for most extreme soloing fights is your pet’s damage mitigation, and your pet’s healing. You are not really worried about your pet’s threat for most fights. The reason is that as a hunter, we have complete control over our threat. With a combination of Misdirection and Feign Death, you should not have any problems remaining below your pet on the threat charts.
Turtle/Beetle (or Spirit Beast) For Victory
The best hunter pet for most extreme soloing situations is the turtle or beetle. Keep in mind that we’re concerned with damage mitigation and healing — everything else takes care of itself. The turtle has the Shell Shield ability that reduces damage taken by 50% for 12 seconds, and the beetle has an equivalent talent. This ability is huge. In fact, you can deal with a boss that actually does slightly more damage than you can heal by using shell shield regularly – the pet can heal up to full each time the shell shield is up.
Again, remember that we aren’t worried about threat, and we aren’t worried about damage. Our two main concerns are mitigation and healing.
The exception to this is when YOU need to stay alive more than your pet, and you’re also in a BM spec. Then, a spirit beast’s heals will be the most beneficial.
Certain other situational pets can be brought out and then dismissed, like a Corehound (for Ancient Hysteria).
Every Boss is Different
Well, that’s not entirely true. Many bosses are just a plain tank & spank. However, the exciting and fun part of extreme soloing is not those fights, but the crazy fights that you have to get really creative to solve. For a lot of these you’ll find that you need to use custom talent builds (hunter and pet) or specialized gear, or different consumables, to exploit that opening you see in the boss fight. And those are the fights that you’ll wipe a lot on — but let me tell you it feels damned good when you finally beat them!