The pet is an essential part of the hunter. Regardless of spec, you need your pet to do your job completely. Since you are raiding, you need to use your pet to do damage. You should have it out at all times in Karazhan, and keep it alive and busy as much as you can.
This guide only briefly considers hunter pets, and only from the perspective of raiding Karazhan. For a comprehensive guide to hunter pets with absolutely everything you need to know, see Petopia.
Choice of pet Edit
To do the most damage, you should bring a pet capable of putting out the most damage. In order to do that, there are two factors: The pet must be a species with a damage bonus, and it must have a focus dump ability.
Different families of pets have different multipliers that affect how much damage they do, their health, and their stamina. For raiding, you want a pet with a 7% or 10% damage multiplier.
In addition, the pet must have a "focus dump" skill for dealing damage. These are skills without cooldowns, so the pet can cast the spell as fast as it can get focus for the skill. The focus dump skills are as follows:
Of these, Gore usually does the most damage, with Claw just behind. Lightning Breath can do more damage against targets with high armor and no nature resistance.
While it has been improved in recent patches, pets sometimes fly around needlessly to cast Lightning Breath. This lowers their damage output, because they do not use their regular melee attack and Kill Command while doing this. This problem can be eliminated by taking Lightning Breath off of auto-cast and manually casting it in your shot rotation macro. See the Macros section, below, and experiment for yourself to find the best results.
Screech, while it does not do as much damage as the other focus dump abilities, places a very useful debuff on nearby enemies. Unfortunately, a lot of raiders do not like bats and owls, as their big flappy wings get in the way of visibility and targeting.
Here is a table of information about all the raid pet families.
|Pet Family||Damage Multiplier||Focus Dump Skill||Food||High-Level Location|
|Bat||7%||Screech||Fruit and Fungus||Karazhan (Servant's Quarters)|
|Cat||10%||Claw||Fish and Meat||Hills above Skettis|
|Owl||7%||Screech, Claw||Meat||Heroic Sethekk Halls|
|Raptor||10%||Claw||Meat||Netherstorm, far northern tip|
|Ravager||10%||Gore||Meat and Raw Meat||Netherwing Shelf mine|
|Wind Serpent||7%||Lightning Breath||Fish and Bread||Netherstorm, near Tempest Keep|
Choosing pet talents Edit
Re-speccing your pet's talents costs only ten silver, so long as you do it no more than once per day. Horde hunters can re-spec at Grom'gol, which is not too far from Karazhan. It can be worth doing before a raid starts, or during a break. Since Karazhan raids usually last several days, there are plenty of chances to re-spec.
There is not a lot of variation between raiding pet specs. The main difference is the selection of which damage resistance to take. The damage resistance can be armor, or resistance to nature, fire, frost, shadow, or arcane damage. See the section on bosses (below) for a discussion of the different kinds of damage your pet will put up with.
Take the following pet talents first:
- Cobra Reflexes: This considerably increases the pet's damage and leads to more crits, which, in turn, helps keep Ferocious Inspiration and Frenzy up.
- Avoidance: This ability allows your pet to stay alive while taking AoE damage. It is the single best improvement to hunter raiding, ever.
- A focus dump ability.
- Growl: This is useful in only a couple of situations, but it is free, so take it.
- Dash or Dive: This is not essential except in the Shade of Aran fight, but it is nice to get your pet in dealing damage slightly sooner.
With the remaining training points, select magic resistances or Natural Armor. These will vary by which boss you will face.
Finally, spend any remaining training points in Great Stamina.
A warning about pet bigots Edit
Unfortunately, it is possible that you will run into a pet bigot. The bigot orders you put your pet away, asserts that pets do not do much damage, complains that pets aggro everything, whines that pets die right away, refuses to heal or buff your pet, sneers that Marksmanship is the only useful raiding spec, and declares that your pet's damage does not count toward your damage on the meters. Most raiders have learned better, but you may still need to deal with these problem players.
There is a reason for pet bigots. Before The Burning Crusade, raids were much less friendly toward pets. Blizzard has fixed almost all the problems, though. Here are the answers to the bigots' objections:
Bigot: Put your pet away while you raid. Hell no! Blizzard has adjusted the game since the Burning Crusade came out to make almost all encounters pet-friendly. There are only a few pet-unfriendly raid bosses in the game, and none of them are in Karazhan. Given the importance of high damage output when raiding, you should never put the pet away.
Bigot: Pets don't do much damage. Yes, they do. Depending on the spec, they do from 15% to 35% of the hunter's total damage. Beast mastery hunter pets also buff the hunter and the hunter's group. Putting the pet away penalizes the raid with a big decrease in damage.
Bigot: Pets aggro everything. No, they do not. Blizzard changed pets to have a very small aggro range. They essentially have to step on a monster to get its attention. Of course, this will not help a hunter who has poor control over his pet, but that is another issue.
Bigot: Pets die right away in raids. Not any more. Blizzard really improved pet survivability. The Avoidance ability allows pets to survive AoE attacks better than player characters. Boss cleave abilities are no longer full circle, but only hit targets in front of the boss. Pets automatically try to move behind their targets. Mend Pet is now a heal-over-time spell, so the hunter can use it without hurting his own damage output much now.
Bigot: Your pet isn't worth healing. Actually, it is. Having a healer take care of your pet (instead of you) is much more mana-efficient and saves you a cooldown that you could use to deal damage. Also, it allows your pet to off-tank in a few fights. In a raid environment, it can be hard for inexperienced healers to find your pets. To make it easy to see the pets, the healer can either use an add-on that shows pets, or pull the pet tab off of the raid frame on the social window. That said, healers obviously have to prioritize player characters over pets. Bad healers cannot take care of both player characters and pets. Good healers can handle both at once.
Bigot: Your pet isn't worth buffing. Of course it is. A buff on the pet helps the effectiveness of the raid just as much as it helps when applied anywhere else. In fact, one of the reasons that hunters do so well in raids is that they get twice as many buffs as most other characters. Fortunately, your pet now gets most raid buffs when your group gets them, and gets paladin raid buffs when warriors get them. Make sure that your pet is out when buffing starts. Unfortunately, this bit of bigotry is the hardest to deal with. If you get resistance, explain that putting Blessing of Might on the pet increases the raid's damage output as much as casting it on a rogue does. If that does not work, you might as well accept that your raid has some social issues and deal with those or put up with them.
Bigot: Marksmanship is the only hunter raiding spec. Well, it was in 2006. Now that pets can survive, it is not. Tests show that with the gear available before and in Karazhan, Beast Mastery hunters generally do far more damage.
Bigot: Your pet's damage does not count as your damage. Ok, these people are just idiots, but they do exist. They try to away with it because the DamageMeters add-on does not account for pet damage well, and they want to make themselves look better. Get your own (working) damage meter to contradict them. Ask how your pet will raid if you are not there. If they keep it up, ask for the pet to get a separate roll on loot, since the pet's damage is counted separately.