Of all the classes in World of Warcraft: Classic, Hunters are perhaps most different from what we have today in the game. At a fundamental level, they are still a DPS class, but with notable differences. In Classic, Hunters use mana, and all three of their talent specializations are ranged, with no option for a competent melee build. Still, thanks to a combination of their toolkit and the broken efficiency of their pets, they offer the easiest leveling experience of all classes and have good endgame potential in the right hands.
What Role Does A Hunter Fulfill?
Hunters offer pure damage at range, wearing leather armor at first and mail armor past level forty. Like a Mage or a Warlock, their main responsibility is to bring down a target as quickly as possible. They also have access to some abilities that are great for controlling the action in a dungeon or a raid. Traps can take out an entire NPC for a short while through freezing, and Tranquilizing Shot removes enrage effects that might otherwise make a raid too difficult to handle.
Hunters do however have a bit of a bad reputation that has developed over the life of the game. This comes from the stereotypical, over-eager player who wishes to pull mobs non-stop in a dungeon, ignoring the mana needs of a healer or the health of the tank and insisting that their pet is a tank. If you are a courteous player, these stereotypes should not affect you.
Is Hunter Leveling Easy Or Hard?
Hunters are the easiest class to level, right next to Warlock, and recently, Mage as seen by Jokerd in his world-first level 60 character on Classic servers. This is primarily because of their pet, which can aggro a mob for you, taunt away unwanted attention, and overall act as your personal tank. The main strength of a Hunter’s pet lies in its stat independence from the player. This means that a pet’s health, damage, and other abilities are determined based on its level and talent choices within the Beast Mastery tree, if one has taken them. A Hunter can take off all their gear, and the pet remains just as strong.
This means that as a Hunter, you may be on a terrible streak of bad luck and not have the opportunity to upgrading your gear, and still your pet will still be as strong as it can be. Other classes, Warrior for example, are the opposite, and must have an appropriately stated set of gear and weapon to advance with any efficiency. For this reason, Beast Mastery talents are a great choice to beef up a pet’s damage and armor, and the two of you work in tandem to breeze through content that other classes might need to take at a slower pace.
Finally, Hunters have access to tracking. They can track all manner of living things in the game, from beasts to humanoids and more. This makes questing or farming even more efficient because one can see on the mini map exactly where to find their next target.
A quick note about Hunters is the dead zone, which is between five and eight yards from an opponent where you are to far to hit with a melee attack, but too close to use your ranged attacked. One needs to learn how to navigate this while leveling, to avoid pulling aggro too soon from a pet, and how this can be disastrous in PvP. Traps and Growl from your pet are great to deal with this, and it will surely become second nature over time to consider.
PvE Potential For Endgame
In the endgame, most players will look to Hunters for their damage and utility of Tranquilizing shots. One needs to be on point when it comes to utility, because overall, Hunter damage is not as high as an equally geared Mage, Warlock, or Warrior at the highest levels of play.
While one may pour talents into Beast Mastery to level, at level 60 and for raids, it is far more common to pour resources into Marksmanship and Survival. This will provide individual damage, an aura for more damage from teammates, and of course, more hit percentage to ensure you are landing shots on a target. While there are also builds that unleash the potential of your pet for damage, they are rarely used because the pet may interfere with raid mechanics, or outright die if always standing next to the boss. For this reason, we often see talents poured into empowering the individual Hunter.
Hunters are surely able to hold their own in PvP, and certain play styles are meant to enrage an opponent. Having a powerful pet means that an opponent needs to deal with two bodies instead of one, and if you focus on properly managing traps and snares, an opponent will need to work hard even to reach you. As stated above, the dead zone is the worst part of being a Hunter, particularly if a Rogue appears next to us to ruin the day.
With that said, larger battle grounds to be released in a future patch will allow for this more creative, indirect sort of playstyle. See an ally being chased by a Warrior or a Rogue? Shoot all the snares! Send in the pet! A pet that dies in combat is quickly resurrected, or automatically done so if you are being resurrected, so be free with sending them to pester opponents.
Racial Choices To Optimize
In terms of pure optimization, the Alliance has two decent choices with Night Elves and Dwarves. Put simply, Night Elves are usually better for PvE thanks to their higher base agility, which is the primary stat for a Hunter. Dwarves meanwhile have Stoneform, which is an excellent racial ability for PvP. They also specialize in Guns; however in classic these are few and far between compared to bows and this may not be worth considering unless you specifically want to make a Dwarf who uses guns as their ranged weapon.
For the Horde, there are three good options, though Trolls are ideal in PvE thanks to their racial passive, Berserking. This increasing casting and attack speed based on the damage they have taken up to a massive 30%. They also specialize in Bows, and have Beast slaying, which can be useful for farming leather. Orcs are great for PvP thanks to Command and Hardiness, which means that pets do more damage, and they are resistant to stuns. Taurens are perfectly average and not recommended if one is trying to optimize their Hunter.
Best Professions For The Hunter Class
Hunters are similar to Rogues in regard to the range of professions they can select, depending on their needs. First time players in WoW: Classic may want to take dual-gathering professions while they level to sell materials at the Auction House. Skinning and Herbalism, for example while questing will always fill your bags with much needed crafting materials, which are always in demand.
Mining and Engineering can be a good choice, but it can be expensive to level up early on. As Engineering offers great utility for PvP, this is more niche than one may need.
Skinning and Leatherworking can allow for one to make their own gear, though this is not always practical if one levels faster than they can keep the profession up. However, as Hunters can so efficiently farm leather and track their prey on the mini map, they have an easier time doing this than Rogues.
Finally, Herbalism and Alchemy offers long-term gold making potential. In the endgame, everyone needs consumables for PvE and for PvP, and there will always be demand for them at the Auction house.
As Hunters have such an easy leveling process, they are likely to be seen everyone in Azeroth. The difference between an average Hunter and a masterful one is completely dependent on the player, and with enough practice their toolkit can be a boon to any raid and dungeon group. Of course, one also gets a companion, and finding the rarest of pets in the game is a challenge in itself.