Home > Lord of the Rings Online > LotRO: The Path of the Hunter [Play-style]

LotRO: The Path of the Hunter [Play-style]

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In the last post, LotRO:  The Path of the Hunter [Getting Ready to Play] we went over game setup to prepare ourselves for the journey.  It’s time to take a look on how to play the hunter.  This guide is meant for leveling and low level instances.  It’s split in two parts:

  1. Solo Play
  2. Group Play

And covers various areas of the class.  I will not go in any gearing or traiting detail in this section since they’ll be getting their own individual articles, but I will cover the general idea behind traiting and gearing.

Gear and Traits

As mentioned above, I’ll keep this short and sweet.  You have to take care of 3 areas when you gear and trait.

  1. Damage Output
  2. Downtime
  3. Survivability

Damage Output:  Agility is all you need for this.  It directly boosts our ranged damage, and this is all a hunter really needs to do more damage.

Downtime:  Running out of power is problematic.  Getting some Will and Fate is what really makes you shine out as a class.  You won’t have troubles until around level 20, and at 40, if the problem is not addressed, your power drains in 5 seconds flat.  Fate and Will fix this.  It’s a good idea to keep them both balanced.  I prefer shifting a bit towards Fate, since in combat power regen is great, and bigger critical magnitude is always welcome.

Survivability:  Vitality.  If you die you’re useless, and you waste your own time as well as fellow players.  Survivability will mainly come via Virtues.  So don’t slack on those.

Virtues need not become a headache.  You’ll generally have the following 4 always equipped, and you’ll want them maxed out to rank 10 asap:

What you slot aside from those 4 depends mostly one what you have available while you’re leveling.  You’ll end up farming the appropriate virtues for your class once you hit max level regardless.

Class and Race traits depend on your playing habits.  I suggest trying to get some red class traits since they give good boosts.

Solo Play

We’ve swiftly gone over traiting and acquired a general idea of gearing.  Since this is meant for leveling, I’ll be giving you a general idea on ways to play the class while soloing.

The general idea when you’ll hunting on your own, is to try to keep your distance, and avoid melee contact with the enemy.  Use LoS to your advantage as well and remember that NPCs won’t jump ground like you, they’ll always take the safer, longer way to reach you.  Kiting is important when you’re facing a mob you can’t tank.

When you’re on your own, allowing multiple mobs to do as they wish is a bad idea.  We have abilities to disable mobs at a distance, as well as traps to lock them in place or slow them down.

When playing a hunter, the abilities you use are classified in three main parts:

  • Planning
  • Opener
  • Finisher

On normal NPCs it only consists of the above 3.  Planning is often done on the first pull if the mobs are packed.  On higher health mobs instead of a Finisher you have a Follow-up, but that’s only really used for group fights.

Planning

Planning is crucial when you’re fighting against multiple mobs.  Placing traps, setting campfire, Focusing, Buffing up (Oils/Chants/Food) and acquiring a good position is all part of planning.  The more thorough you are in this phase, the easier the fight becomes (provided you did it right).

Usually all I do is simply focus before a fight, ensure all my buffs are up, I’m in the right stance, and I’ll start out with the Opener.

Opener

Opener is what you cast when you’re the one to start the fight.  You generally open up with a long cast ability and end the opener with some strong, ranged blows which have a cooldown of sorts.

My most common opener consists of:

18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow
18px-Penetrating_Shot-iconPenetrating Shot

This generally drops mobs extremely quickly.  If the health is low enough that it drops below 50% after SB + PS, I use Quickshot instead of Barbed arrow, since it’s faster to cast, with less recovery time, and the BA’s bleed wouldn’t be as effective, although this could be made up in the Finisher.

Opening with Swift Bow’s quite obvious.  It has a long cooldown and the longest induction until you acquire Heart Seeker.  Opening with it deals peak damage and the mob is pulled only after the induction finishes.

Finisher

Finisher usually happens in melee or right before the mob reaches you.  If the mob is still at a distance, the finisher consists of continuously consuming Penetrating Shot whenever it comes off cooldown, and filling in the gap with quickshot.  Remember, you should have put Barbed Arrow during the opener if the fight comes down to this.

In melee, you can be the judge.  I have to Finishers for melee and they’re based on the mobs health.  If the mob can get in 3 to 4 blows before it dies, I do the following:

18px-Swift_Stroke-icon Swift Stroke (Parry Defenses up)
18px-Blindside-icon Blindside (+3 Focus)
18px-Scourging_Blow-icon Scourging Blow (Consumes BA bleed for added damage)
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot (Consumes 3 or 2 focus from blindside, generally killing the mob)

On lower health mobs, the like you’ll almost always encounter before you go into Moria, I finish them off quickly like so:

18px-Blindside-icon Blindside (+3 Focus)
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot (-3 or 2 focus)
18px-Scourging_Blow-icon Scourging Blow

Usually dead from Penetrating Shot.  If they only have a thin line of health left, just Scourging Blow them and move on without wasting focus or Blindside’s cooldown.

Some Notes

  • Barbed Arrow is not an ability you spam.  You should drop it once on the mob to set them up for when they’re in melee.  Only reuse it if the debuff is over and still at a distance or has plenty of health left.
  • If the mob is in melee range, try consuming BA’s bleed right before it drops down.  This way you get maximum bleed time from the bleed itself, and still gain Scourging Blow’s damage bonus.  Efficiency is important.
  • If you plan on reusing Swift Bow, because the mob has plenty of health left, repeat the full opener, or as much of it as you can.  Do not forget Cry of the Predator 18px-Cry_of_the_Predator-icon is a very important ability useable on most beasts.  I recommend you consuming this before you replay the Opener.  Gain some distance if you can between you and the mob before you redo it.
  • Traiting Penetrating Shot is never a loss.  2 focus per PS is a huge asset.  Swift Bow sets you up for an instant PS (+2 focus, – 2 Focus).  Starting a fight with only 1 focus will allow you to execute the full Opener (1F 18px-Hunter_Focus-icon + 2F 18px-Swift_Bow-icon – 2F 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon + 1F 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon – 2F 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon ) = 0F.
  • Avoid using traps right off the bat when you’re fighting against a single high health mob.  What I do is set a trap besides me, pull the mob and burn all cooldowns I have on it, move it into the trap, gain my own distance and wait for my cooldowns to come back up, at which point I’ll start all over again from the opener, redo the whole process and use a Bard Arrow 18px-Bard's_Arrow-icon or a Cry of the Predator 18px-Cry_of_the_Predator-icon on them and repeat the whole process till one of us is dead, hopefully not me.

Group Play

When you’re not playing on your own, keeping in mind that your fellows are just as strong as you is important.  Know the strengths and weakness of each other class.  Remember that level difference has a solid impact as well on the game.  Do not think for a second that you’re a hero and they’re sidekicks.

Depend on them to make up for your class’ shortcomings and if it’s the first time grouping up with them observing their play and determining how proficient they are at their class is important.

As a quick 101 to grouping for the less social type here’s a quick list of what to do and what not to do:

  • Keep quiet.  Hyper-like players can be funny at times, but they can quickly end up in an awkward situation where nobody chats back with them.  Unless you know the peeps you’re playing with, being a bit on the quiet side never hurts.  Learn about the other people before you start chatting up like you’re childhood friends.
  • Do not act as a self-proclaimed leader.  Giving advice or your own opinion is a good thing, but rashly heading out and taking control of the group (especially when you’re not the leader of the fellowship) is a bad idea.  Discuss with the rest how to proceed and come to an agreement.
  • Do your part, and keep your place.  As a hunter your role is to kill stuff.  Off tanking from a healer may be considered generous, but often times the healers won’t heal you (F**k you Silent \.|.. =P).  Dying in their place may save the fellowship from wiping, but that also means you’re dead and it’s never a good thing to die as any class.  Hunters are just as frail as any other class, and aside from a potion, they have no real way of healing themselves in combat when they have aggro.
  • Know your quests and get them done.  In an instance which has limited objects to loot, make sure you loot them and get your quests finished as well.  This mostly applies for healers, but as a hunter, you usually keep your range from mobs, don’t be afraid to stack up and take your fair share of the loot.
  • Hunters can attack from a 40m range.  It’s not a bad idea to use it, but that only really applies for solo play.  In group play, staying at a range so you auto attack with the bow, but close enough to be able to quickly run to the tank should you get aggro is important.
  • Know your stances, and your own threat.  Not all tanks are equally effective.  Some are like steam trains that run over whatever they come in contact with, others are more like hamsters and get their asses handed to them upon contact.  Analyze your tank before you mess up and get yourself killed or wipe the whole fellowship (… somehow).

In groups, the abilities used are classified in the following 3 sections:

  • Planning
  • Pulling
  • Rotating

Upon every pull, all 3 of these are used, without exception.  Pulls in an instance are not to be taken lightly.  Remember that dying in a pug (Pickup group) will not be a rare occasion.  So be sure to continuously reactivate your buffs whenever you die and get rezzed (avoid retreating unless you’re sure the healer can’t reach you and rez you.  It’s best if you don’t get dread.)

Planning

Not much to be said here, same as in solo play, keep your focus maxed as often as possible, watch your power bar, ensure you have all buffs available to you.  I don’t use consumable buffs all the time in a pug.  There’s no guarantee I’ll stay alive for long, and I hate wasting stuff.

Pulling

This is the opener version when in a group on multiple mobs.  The difference is that you have a various other classes assisting you.

It’s not a bad idea to wait just until the tanks use their own abilities, at a melee range toEnduranceStance the mobs.  Waiting this much should guarantee you no chance of pulling.  If you don’t need to burn the mobs down too quickly and cannot afford to die, enable 18px-Stance_Endurance-icon Endurance Stance.

If you’re part of a death streak avoid using food buffs or bow chants, alternatively keep your distance and don’t engage the mobs upon pull.  If you do, make sure to continuously pursue the RAT’s target and spread your damage to avoid piling up a ton of hate on only one particular mob.  This reduces the chances of pulling for a long time should the tank become disabled and you’re next to be targeted. Should you have no issue with threat, activate sk_hunter_focus_precision_r1Precision Stance.

Pulling Sequences can be one of the following:

Heart Fire Hasted Fire Fine Fire
18px-Heart_Seeker-icon Heart Seeker 18px-Needful_Haste-icon Needful Haste 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow quickshot Quickshot
18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow 18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow
18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot quickshot Quickshot quickshot Quickshot

Heart Fire is all about using the cooldowns and managing focus smartly.  Starts out with Heart Seeker, Consumes 2 Focus on Penetrating Shot and gets them back with Swift Bow.  Fromt hat point onwards it’s a play of managing Focus.  Optimal to start out with it simultaneously with a warden’s ambush, or while the tank runs towards the pull.  It has a 5s induction, which should give plenty of time for the tank to build up some aggro.  I also start with this ability when the tank requests a 5 s wait before we start.  I simply cast it 2 seconds into the fight.  Precision Stance suggested when using this sequence.

Hasted Fire is my favorite pull sequence so far.  It burns Needful Haste and gets pumping out some solid damage.  Power drains quite swiftly during this sequence, but it’s well worth using this on a pull when Heart Seeker is on cooldown.  Everything else is a play of Focus, as usual.  Endurance Stance suggested when using this sequence.

Fine Fire is the sequence I almost never use.  It’s meant to be used when your tank is either extremely weak, or you want to be very efficient on power.  On the rare occasion I have to open up Finely, I pop on Precision Stance.  When power is a serious issue, I use Endurance Stance throughout the sequence.

Sequence Fire Notes

From the left to the right are the priorities I use them.  Whenever I can use Heart Fire I will.  If it’s locked (on cooldown) or the tank won’t handle it I will always consider Hasted Fire.  If the tank can’t handle that, I try dropping 18px-Needful_Haste-icon Needful Haste from the sequence and open up as usual.  If Needful Haste and Swift Bow are on cooldown and Heart Fire is still locked, or if threat/power is a concern I’ll have to go with Fine Fire.  Mixing these 3 sequences to form new ones is not a bad thing at all.  Adapting is a necessity as any class in LotRO.

Rotating

When you’ve done your class planning, the pull takes place, and you finish the sequence of your choice, it comes down to actually keeping on the mob till you kill it.  This is similar to a Finisher in solo play, however this time the mob will have more health, and will most probably take longer to kill.

In this case, just killing the enemy should be your only focus.  Patrols may be pulled erratically and being caught unaware would be troublesome.  Be careful on how you spend your power, especially when you have no Lore master in your group or a fairly unskilled one who will only cater for the healer and tank’s power.

When rotating, there’s no fixed sequence to stick with, as such I will give you 3 you can use, which match the above pulling sequences, depending on various situations you’ll fine yourself in.  Remember you will have to mix these up as you deem best.

Multi-target Focus Burn Single Target Power Burn Cool Burn
18px-Rain_of_Arrows-icon Rain of Arrows quickshot Quickshot 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
quickshot Quickshot quickshot Quickshot quickshot Quickshot
18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow quickshot Quickshot
18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
quickshot Quickshot quickshot Quickshot quickshot Quickshot
18px-Rain_of_Arrows-icon Rain of Arrows 18px-Merciful_Shot-icon Merciful Shot quickshot Quickshot
18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon Barbed Arrow 18px-Swift_Bow-icon Swift Bow 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot
quickshot Quickshot 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon Penetrating Shot 18px-Merciful_Shot-icon Merciful Shot

Multi-target Focus Burn: Used with Heart Fire you’ll drive down from Max focus down to 0.  From that point onwards you can either use 18px-Intent_Concentration-icon Intent Concentration And repeat the sequence starting from Swift Bow, or shoot 2x quickshot Quickshot and follow it up with a 18px-Penetrating_Shot-icon PS.  And knowing Rain of Arrows would be coming off cooldown, and Barbed bleed shouldn’t be allowed to drop, I’d do a 18px-Swift_Bow-icon SB + 18px-Barbed_Arrow-icon BA and drop a Rain of Arrows.

Single Target Power Burn: Is the most often used rotation.  Gain 2 focus via quickshotQS / 18px-Barbed_Arrow-iconBA and consume them with 18px-Penetrating_Shot-iconPS.  Drop a Merciful if you can to remove corruption (52+) and to clean up your focus bar for an 18px-Intent_Concentration-iconIC.  I love using this in conjunction with Hasted Fire, thus the name “Power Burn”, since power is a goner in leveling gear when you’re done with all that!  I advice you using 18px-Intent_Concentration-iconIC after the rotation for restoring some power (if traited) and refill the Focus bar, from empty back to fill, for a second serving of ass whooping.

Cool Burn: Unrelated to the trait, this rotation is a tab targeting rotation of sorts.  You hold back on power, save focus and deal constant non-spike damage all throughout.  You’re essentially keeping your cool, and burning through the opponents health constantly.  Using Merciful is completely optional.  I like popping it myself since dropping focus all of a sudden makes my eyes shiny and cheeks puffy, and drives a nice hole in the opponent.

Sequence Burn Notes

Once again, and this is of utmost importance:  Mix the F*KK outta it.  Don’t just stick with the rotations I provided above.  You’ll find abilities on cooldown, Focus too low because you moved, and these Burn sequences will become quickly obsolete (save for Cool Burn).  It’s always important to know why I use the abilities I mention and why in that particular order.

In the specific notes for Focus Burn and Power Burn I recommend you popping 18px-Intent_Concentration-iconIC to rebuild your focus.  If you calculate the focus at the end of both burn sequences the focus bar is empty (Focus Burn finishes you with 2F, simply because I didn’t have space for another 18px-Penetrating_Shot-iconPS) making IC a 100% efficient ability as well as utilizing the power restoration from the trait, since your power’s sure to sink a bit after ending a Burn sequence.

Conclusion

This was one of the more specific posts you’ll find in The Path of the Hunter series.  Utilize it as a guide, not as a walkthrough.  That aside, I’ll meet you again on part 4:

LotRO: The Path of the Hunter [Gearing and Traiting]

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