Trapping and CC for Hunters

I'm actually controlling 27 mobs, but could only fit 3 in the screenshot...

Dungeoneering as a Hunter was pretty simple in Wrath. You pretty much followed the tank and either Volleyed some things or shot a single target. If you misdirected to the tank very little could go wrong and towards the end even that wasn’t necessary.

Cataclysm changes all this. 5-man instances require some degree of control, and heroic 5-mans are hard. Often if you pull an entire group at once, they WILL overwhelm and kill the tank followed swiftly by everyone else. The solution to this is to control the enemy mobs which almost always means stopping them from doing damage to things. Fortunately hunters are one of the most versatile CC classes and we have a number of different methods for controlling enemies.

TRAPPING

Freezing Trap encases an enemy in a block of ice, preventing all actions for one minute. This is the ideal form of CC as it removes an enemy from the equation until:

  1. One minute passes and the frost trap falls off,
  2. Someone deals damage to the target and breaks the frost trap (this is bad),
  3. You finish killing all the other enemies and the tank (ONLY the tank) breaks the trap deliberately.

Some things to know about traps.

Freezing trap freezes an enemy in place and prevents them from attacking, but is broken by any damage. Frost trap only slows an enemy down, don’t get them confused! The two traps share a cooldown, so you cannot use frost trap to slow an enemy down in the event of a mistrap (more on that later). I actually recommend pulling Frost Trap off your action bars or at least putting it far away from Freezing Trap while you’re in dungeons. Unlike the mage’s Polymorph spell, traps have a small chance to be resisted and so you can do everything correctly and still end up with a mistrap and a dangerous mob running around loose. I’ll write about how to deal with that situation further on.

The generally accepted icon that most tanks use to indicate that a target should be trapped is the blue square – you will see it appear over a target’s head. Some tanks may designate a different symbol, especially if there is more than one hunter in the group – listen out for what the tank or group leader says. There are a few methods for successfully trapping a target and you may use them all depending on the situation. It’s always helpful to let the tank know exactly what you want to do (or if you’re a tank, let your hunter know what to do!). Some tanks don’t realise that Frost Trap doesn’t work the same way as Polymorph and can require a little skill to pull off.

First Method

The hunter initiates the pull by trapping a target, and the tank pulls off him. This is a simple method with a high success rate, but the tank must be careful not to use AoE too close to the trapped target as this will break the trap. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Stand well back from the target and behind the tank. Make sure everyone’s ready.
  2. Activate Trap Launcher and select Freezing Trap
  3. Fire the trap right at the targeted enemy’s feet. It will immediately freeze, and all his friends will start running towards you.
  4. The tank pulls the remaining mobs off you.
  5. Target the tank’s primary target (usually marked with a skull) and open fire! Don’t fire on the mob you trapped, for Elune’s sake.

It is not recommended to use this method in random dungeon groups unless the tank has okayed it. Most tanks like to initiate the pull – some of them won’t react properly if you pull. Some of them will deliberately let you die if you pull first (“If you pull it, you’re tanking it”). Communicate with your tank!

Second Method

The enemy to be trapped is a melee-type. The hunter drops a trap at his feet and takes a few steps back so that the trap is directly between the hunter and the mob to be trapped. The tank pulls as normal. The hunter then uses Distracting Shot to taunt the mob who runs directly over the trap and is frozen.

  1. The targetted enemy is melee. Don’t use this against ranged enemies or casters.
  2. Hit Freezing Trap to drop a trap at your feet. Take a few steps back – you don’t want to put additional strain on the healer by getting hit – but make sure you’re still in attack range of the enemy.
  3. The tank pulls the group like it’s Wrath and he hasn’t a care in the world.
  4. You hit Distracting Shot, which taunts the enemy over to you.
  5. Watch and wait as the enemy freezes himself! Let’s see a mage pull that off.
  6. Target the tank’s primary target and fire. Don’t fire on the mob you just trapped. In fact detarget him as soon as you’ve fired Distracting Shot.

Third Method

The enemy to be trapped is a caster or ranged type. If you try this against melee types you’re letting yourself in for all kinds of trouble. The tank pulls as normal and you fire a freezing trap right at the enemy mob.

  1. The targetted enemy is ranged or a spellcaster. If you use this method against melee they will just run off, leaving the trap behind. You can recover from this by running over to the trap that you launched and using distracting shot to pull the mob back over it as above.
  2. The tank pulls as normal.
  3. Activate Trap Launcher and select Freezing Trap.
  4. Sometimes ranged and caster types move about a bit to get the tank into range or line-of-sight. Wait for them to stop, then fire the trap right at their feet.
  5. Target the tank’s primary target and fire! Don’t fire on the mob that you just (etc. etc.)

Fourth Method of suicide and death for everyone.

I really don’t recommend this. This is to be used in emergencies only, or if you need to freeze a loose mob and distracting shot is on cooldown for some reason. The tank has pulled already and wants a moving mob frozen. Good luck.

  1. For some reason, the tank has pulled, the mob he wants frozen is running about loose and you don’t have distracting shot available.
  2. You have to activate Trap Launcher, select Freezing Trap and lob a trap between the mob and the tank so that the enemy runs over the trap. Enjoy that.
  3. Get killed because this rarely works. Alternatively, look below for other methods for controlling enemies as a hunter.

MISTRAPPING

When you fail to trap an enemy – perhaps the trap was resisted, or you tried to use the Fourth Method of suicide and death for everyone – or someone breaks your trap by carelessly shooting, stabbing or hitting the target with AoE, this is a mistrap. Any situation which leaves your trap on cooldown and the enemy to be trapped running around loose is generally a mistrap. Here’s how to deal with it.

  1. If you have a freezing trap on the ground somewhere, try and get the mob to run back over it. Don’t use distracting shot against casters though, it’ll just get you a load of Arcane Missiles in the face and you don’t want that.
  2. If you don’t have a trap on the ground or available, look further down the article for other methods of controlling a mob.
  3. If the problem was someone breaking CC, use the left and right arrows in Recount to find the CC Breakers display, identify who was responsible and then bludgeon them to death politely and quietly note this because we’ve all made such mistakes in the past and will again in the future. Making an example of people in front of the group is poor form.

Under no circumstance is breaking CC grounds for votekicking someone from a random dungeon group, BTW. If you think that it is, congratulations on never making the slightest mistake in a dungeon group before, I hope you continue to find enjoyment from being superior to the rest of us.

RETRAPPING

Sometimes a fight lasts longer than a minute and you have to retrap a mob. Don’t fire a trap at a mob while it’s still frozen as there’s a bug that causes the current trap and new trap to both fail. Wait for the trap to break of its own accord and then:

  1. For melee, fire a trap a short distance in front of the mob and then use distracting shot to pull it over the trap.
  2. For casters, just fire a trap right at its feet.

CONTROLLING MOBS WITHOUT TRAPS

So trapping is excellent and completely removes an enemy from play for a full minute. With that said, we have more ways to control mobs as hunters than most classes have ways to damage things. Mistrap? Not a problem. Need to CC two different mobs and you’re the only class with any CC capability in the group? We’re all over that. We have options!

KITING

Kiting is the ancient art of avoiding damage by running away while keeping the enemy angry enough to keep chasing you. The hunter is the kiter and the enemy is the kite, and you pull him around the room without letting him hit you. Here’s the problem: To keep the enemy interested in you, you must keep shooting him and you can’t easily do that whilst running away.

Kiting is an advanced technique and requires some practice to get right. You’ll also need to have enough room to run around in without aggroing other groups of enemies.

There are two major methods of kiting, the JUMP SHOT and STRAFE KITE. For an excellent and still pretty relevant tutorial for jump shot kiting, please see legendary BM Hunter BigRedKitty’s youtube video over here:

It’s recorded in the Burning Crusade era when we still had mana, but the technique is the same – use concussive shot on cooldown to keep it away from you and arcane shot to damage it and keep it interested.

There is one problem, of course. We can run out of focus pretty easily and be unable to fire our shots. This is where Aspect of the Fox and Strafe Kiting come in!

BRK teaches you to Strafe Kite as part of his baby hunter guide movies, see here:

Now remember that an enemy is considered to be “in front” of you and able to be shot so long as it’s within about a 160 degree cone to your front. This means that you can actually be strafing sideways away from an enemy at full speed and still able to shoot it! Now recall that in Aspect of the Fox you can cast Cobra Shot or Steady Shot whilst moving along. Naturally, send your pet to attack the tank’s main target or keep it on passive, or it’ll pull the enemy mob off you.

So jump-shot kite an enemy, making use of concussive shot to keep them away from you, and switch to strafe-kiting to regain focus. Kiting can be tricky, but it’s also great fun and can potentially allow you to control several enemies at once.

PET TANKING

It’s entirely possible for you to off-tank a single mob using your pet. Your pet isn’t as durable as the tank but you can use mend pet, cower, lick your wounds and other pet-survivability options to keep it alive for long enough for the group to defeat the other enemy targets. If you know in advance that you’re going to be doing this, summon a tenacity pet (if you have one) as they are most suited to absorbing damage.

Send your pet in just after the tank with growl enabled, misdirect onto your pet and fire into the enemy target until Misdirect falls off. Then switch to the tank’s primary target. Keep an eye on your pet’s health, keep Mend Pet rolling all the time and use other pet survivability options (if you have them) when necessary (for example if you have a ferocity pet specced into Lick Your Wounds, use it at about 20% pet health).

If it’s going badly and your pet needs a few seconds to heal, you can ‘bounce’ a mob between you and your pet by shooting Distracting Shot and then using Feign Death just before it reaches you. Naturally, this doesn’t work on spellcasters.

SCATTER SHOT

Scatter shot is baseline now, which means all hunters have access to it. What it does is ‘disorients’ the target, which means that they stop attacking and wander around aimlessly for a few seconds. This can buy you some time in the event of a mistrap, allow you to get your pet into position to off-tank it or give you a chance to find Aspect of the Fox on your action bars.

INTIMIDATE (Beast Masters only)

All BM hunters have access to Intimidate. It stuns and interrupts spellcasting on a target for three seconds. It’s not much, but in the event of a mistrap it’s all about buying time until you can retrap or otherwise control the target. Your pet must be in melee range of the target for this to work. It also generates a large amount of pet-threat, so if you have to pet tank a target it’s a good idea to use this first.

SILENCING SHOT (Talented, Marksmen only)

Silencing shot is an option in the MM talent tree, which means you must spec into it specifically to access it. You can use Silencing Shot in conjunction with Distracting Shot to pull a spellcaster over to you.

ENTRAPMENT (Talented, Survivors only)

Survival hunters can spec into Entrapment, which allows ice trap and snake trap to ensnare targets and prevent movement. In the event of a mistrap Ice Trap will be on cooldown (heh), but you can use Snake Trap to buy yourself a couple of seconds. Be aware, snakes do apply a damage over time effect on the target which will prevent you from retrapping (or a mage from polymorphing) while the effect is on the target.

SCARE BEAST

Yes, that spell you gained at level 36 and never even placed on your action bars. If you need to control a target which is also an animal, this will fear it for 20 seconds. The advantage is that the target is effectively out of the picture for 20 seconds. The disadvantage is that it will run around in panic, potentially aggroing other mobs in the distance. If it looks like it’s running towards another pack of enemies, fire into it as damage caused will break the effect (unless you’re really unlucky). Apparently this also works on feral druids, although… they can just shift out of animal form.

CONCLUSION

That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. A hunter can be a master not just of massive quantities of sustained, ranged DPS but also of control. Those stories of ancient hunters in the Burning Crusade era who could keep an enemy trapped for ten minutes while kiting three more enemies and pet tanking another don’t seem so far fetched now, eh? :P

With that said, you shouldn’t expect to jump into a level 85 heroic after reading this and be an instant master of control. Follow BRK’s example and practice against normal mobs or elites in the world. Questions? Comments? Drop me a line using yon comment form below.

Good hunting!

Editor’s Note: Now that Cataclysm is live and BRK’s stint in the Beta is over, YBS would like to wish him all the best and thank him for his many years of service to the Hunter community. Long may his hunter-guide movies endure as the definitive source of hunter wisdom!

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