Updated Mon, Apr 04, 2011 by gunky
Lounging around the campfire, a group of Hunters swap lies about their biggest Heart-seeker hits.
The transition from solo play to group play can be rather jarring for Hunters. Consider: when soloing, the Hunter never worries about threat generation, always knows what mobs he has rooted or feared, and can freely hurl his Rain of Arrows willy-nilly. In fact, it often behooves him to do so. But things work differently in groups, and taking a solo mentality into a group setting can lead to severe problems, and this has earned Hunters something of a bad reputation.
First and foremost, fellowship Hunters are going to have to forget about Strength stance and area-effect skills. Hunters are massive aggro-magnets, the bane of semi-skilled tanks, frustrated mezzers and overworked healers everywhere. Random, haphazard use of Rain of Arrows can break carefully-planned crowd-control strategies and generates huge threat that can be difficult for the group's tanks to contain. The fellowship Hunter wants to minimize his threat generation while still making generous contributions to the group's DPS output.
Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the other stances: Precision and Endurance. Precision stance generates much less threat than Strength stance and no more threat than using no stance. It doesn't do quite as much damage as Strength stance, but shots fired from Precision stance are more likely to find their targets, and DPS is slightly greater than using no stance. Endurance stance generates less threat than Strength or Precision, and consumes far less power, but it also does markedly less damage. The Hunter's selection of stances will depend entirely on the group and the situation - if threat and aggro management are critical to the group's chances of success, Endurance stance is the way to go. If there is some leeway in regards to threat and aggro (for example, the group has an over-level tank who knows his class well), Precision is a solid choice. If the Hunter is able to ramp his damage (start slow with auto-attacks and other low-threat attacks, and build to more powerful attacks later on), he can often run in Precision stance all the time.
Power consumption is another enemy of the fellowship Hunter. A Hunter who burns through all his power early on in the fight can no longer contribute to the group's DPS output in a meaningful way. In those cases with long, drawn-out boss fights, it is important to conserve power and contribute a consistent, even stream of DPS over a longer period of time. Focus-burning shots tend to consume much more power than induction shots and should be used sparingly. Every fellowship Hunter should make sure to complete the level 45 class quests to get Bow of the Righteous, which gives a small power return with each ranged skill use. With Bow of the Righteous, Endurance stance, a high-level Tome of the Wind-Rider and half-decent in-combat power regeneration (from virtues, armor and jeweley), a Hunter can fire Quick Shots all day long without ever worrying about excessive power consumption.
Skill rotation in groups is a different animal than soloing. It is generally unwise to open with big power shots while in a group, as this will often draw the aggro away from the tanks. A better rotation for groups is to wait a few seconds for the tank to establish a good base of threat, then hit with Quick Shot - Quick Shot - Barbed Arrow - Quick Shot - Quick Shot - Swift Bow, gradually adding Focus-based shots into the mix. The big spikes of threat generated by the more powerful shots are offset somewhat by the consistent stream of lower-threat Quick Shots and auto-attacks, and these spikes are more easily-managed by the group's tanks. Using melee skills in a group is not generally needed, and can actually be counter-productive. Melee skills have no power return from Bow of the Righteous, and do much less damage than ranged attacks, resulting in a much lower power-to-DPS ratio. However, there are times when a well-timed melee strike can make a big difference - a corruption removal with Dazing Blow, for instance, or a slow from Low Cut.
Hunters are poison-removal professionals. Since this is the only buff Hunters have that can be applied to other members of a group, don't be shy about using it. Take a quick pause from the shooting and take that poison off the healer before he dies. There is no cooldown on this skill, it's instant-cast (apart from the animation, which does take a second or so), it applies a poison resist buff for 15 seconds, and it removes multiple poison effects, making it vastly superior to any pot or salve. The Trapper of Foes version of Poison Purge is even more powerful - it can affect multiple targets, though it does have a short cooldown. It may help to change your UI settings to only show dispellable effects - this will enable you to more clearly see when group members are poisoned, rather than having to sort it out from among dozens of little buff icons underneath the health bar.