So You Want to be a Hunter?: A Beginner’s Play-style Guide

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So, you’ve decided to play a hunter. Great choice! You’ve read all the beginner guides, chosen your race, and have started pew-pewing your way through Middle-Earth. The hunter is a fairly easy class to learn, but there are subtleties in the early levels that are very easy to miss. Maybe it’s because you’re so good at killing things fast, or that you’ve not had the opportunity to play in a group. Whatever the reason, here are a few things I’ve learned about playing the hunter that I wish I’d known earlier.

hunterbrax

Quest Flow

I’m going to start with the most basic information and then build up to some things you’ll want to know closer to the middle-levels. This first tip isn’t specific to the hunter, and it won’t be news to you if you’ve played MMO’s before, but…hey, it got me, so perhaps I can help someone else to avoid being as dumb as I was. When you get to a “quest hub” (a place in the game with several NPC’s offering you quests) pick up all of the quests you can before going out to complete them! The quest hubs in LOTRO are (mostly) designed so that all of the quests at the hub are contained within the same, or very nearby, area. You can trek out there and complete several at once, and then turn them all in at once. If you pick up only one quest, complete it, turn it in, then pick up another quest (like I did), you’ll be doing more running around than you need to, and it will take much longer than it would, otherwise. If you’re a role-player and that’s just your play-style, that’s cool – I get it. But if you’re just doing it because you don’t know any better, understand that there’s a much more efficient way to level.

There’s no crying in LOTRO!

cryofpred

Ok, now on to the hunter tips. At level 12 you’ll get a skill called “Cry of the Predator” that you can use against animals to “fear” them, or make them run away for a period of time. Bree-land is a good zone to practice this skill due to the large number of wolves, bears, boars and other creatures of nature. I didn’t use this skill very much in the early levels, and focused mainly on trying to pull single mobs so I could burn them down as quickly as possible. This skill is helpful when you accidentally (or intentionally, I guess!) pull two animals. You can fear one while you work on the other, and hopefully by the time the fear effect wears off you’ll be ready to take on the second. Cry of the Predator is especially helpful in the Warg Pens instance later on down the line, so don’t forget where this skill is on your bar if you intend to do any grouping.

You can mele, too, y’know

lowcut

I’m still trying to break this habit. Early on, I got enamored with the amount of damage I could do with my bow, such that even when enemies drew within mele range I tended to stand there with my bowstring drawn, trying to shoot him down through the induction interrupts. That approach can work, but by level 25 you have five mele skills at your disposal, and each of them does something besides simply dealing mele damage. I’d suggest studying up on one of them to learn when it makes sense in combination with other attacks. For example, low cut not only does pretty decent dual-wield AoE damage, but it also slows your enemies run speed by 50%! That’s a significant side-effect that can be used in the following combination: Low cut, back up, quick or penetrating shot (depending on focus level, cool downs), low cut, rinse and repeat until enemy death ensues. Once you’ve mastered a mele/bowshot combination, move on to the next mele skill and continue to build your arsenal of attacks.

Precisely!

precision

At level 6 you are granted your first hunter stance: strength. Strength is great in the early levels, because you have so few skills that you need to be able to inflict maximum damage with each shot. Unfortunately in my case, I got so used to soloing in strength stance that I was well into my 60’s before I realized how fantastic the precision stance (granted at level 18) is. Precision increases your chance of scoring a critical on your bow shots and also generates a focus point for every 5 seconds that you have it toggled. This becomes increasingly important during long battles when you are unable to pop “hunter focus” in combat. Since I switched to using precision a majority of the time, I don’t need to worry about generating focus any more, and the crits achieved with my quick shots are just an added bonus. Don’t wait until your 60’s to try out this stance!

Flying…desperately

despflight

At level 20, you are granted a skill called “Desperate Flight”. If you want to completely torque off the rest of your fellowship, wait until the fight gets really tough and then pop this one off! Seriously, though, don’t use it. Ever. It basically just transports the hunter to the safety of a rez circle without the benefit of a glorious death in battle. Since the removal of the ‘death’ morale penalty, there is very little reason to use this skill. The only time I’ve ever seen it used in a group was by accident, and that person felt pretty bad when the entire group wiped. Do yourself a favor and just remove this one from your skill bar altogether.

Purge poison can be used on others, too! 

purgepoison

See title. Not sure if I needed to say this, but since you’re a hunter (not a healer), you may not be aware that you can purge poison from others in your fellowship. Look for the green, glowy poison cloud around one of your allies, select them, and pop the skill. They’ll be glad you did.

What line is it, anyway?

classtraitsI can’t take complete credit for this, since I just recently learned it from listening to the hunter roundtable Vraeden Hates Hunters (he doesn’t really). You’ve probably noticed that one of the ways to customize your character in LOTRO is to equip certain class traits as you earn them along the way (usually by completing class deeds). There are 3 “lines” of traits denoted by the color of the outline around the trait icon. Equipping traits will grant added bonuses as you continue to stack traits in the same trait line. For example, equipping two traits from the “red line” results in a +10% critical multiplier on your bow attacks. Ever since I’ve played the game, it has been common knowledge in my head (and many others) that the red line is the superior trait line for a hunter, and that all other lines are completely useless. Well….after experimenting a bit I can confirm that that’s not exactly true. In fact, sometimes hitting quickly with a high number of critical hits can generate nearly as much damage as shooting more slowly for “big number” hits, or more! So, don’t fall in love with the red line right away, trait some blue or yellow here and there. Try some different things, you might find out that you’ll even alter your play style to better fit the bonuses you’ve traited for!

Tab-Targeting

Something that you’ll want to get familiar with as a hunter is the tab-targeting feature. Essentially, you can press the <tab> key to target nearby baddies. It’s much quicker, though less precise, than using your mouse to target. A word of caution, though. Be very, very sure that the mob you’ve tab-targeted is the one you want to shoot at. Some of my worst grouping mistakes have been tab-target pulling the wrong group of bad guys into an already-ongoing fight. If you decide to use tab-targeting, you will make this mistake. Just try to make sure it doesn’t happen too terribly often.

Another method of keyboard targeting is to use the <backpace> key to target the closest enemy (credit: Wilros). This carries the same warning as tab-targeting.

Ok, I want to try this grouping thing, what am I supposed to do?

The hunter’s role in a group is mainly damage, but if that’s all you’re worried about, you may not get invited to very many groups. Secondarily, a hunter needs to be concerned with generating as little threat, or aggro, as possible while inflicting as much damage as possible. A high threat level is what makes the bad guys decide to attack you. One way to make sure the tank is the one getting hit (instead of you) is to target the same mob that he/she is fighting. At the early levels, when you can’t take as much damage, targeting a different bad guy than your tank can result in you taking a lot of hits and thus dividing your healer’s attention between you and the tank. It makes things difficult for the group. Another good idea is to let your tank get hit for about 5 seconds before starting your attack. Let them build up the aggro so it’s harder for you to pull the bad guys away. Thirdly, a hunter needs to manage his/her power. There are a lot of different ways to combat power issues, from carrying potions to certain skills and trait builds. Even with these options, I find myself ‘easing up’ on my bow skills during long fights in order to make sure I don’t run out of gas. Or, I’ll resort to using shots that don’t require as much power, like a quick shot/penetrating shot combination instead of swift bow and heart seeker. Just something to be aware of as I’ve seen a lot of hunters run low on power during fellowship runs.

These tips should help get you well into your 30’s or 40’s, by which time you will have outgrown ‘beginner’ guides! Happy Hunting!

Braxwolf StormchaserBraxwolf can be found on Twitter at @braxwolf

or on Windfola, tab-targeting his heart out

23 comments

  1. Alice /

    That’s great! I’ve got a hunter, but I’m at the very beginning 🙂

  2. I’ve had a couple hunters. The first one I got to Mirkwood or so and for some reason I thought “I need to do this again!”. I stopped dead in my tracks, logged out, and created a new hunter.

    That second hunter is the one whose mug is plastered all over WARSTEEDS. He quickly became my “main”. Though he is on a bit of a vacation right now as I bring up some alts and am messing around in SWTOR again.

    Hunter is a great class. It is easy to play but all the different little nuances to it really allow you to play strategically instead of using the faceroll on the keyboard method. If you plan it out and think about what you’re doing you can easily take on whole groups of on-level mobs and come out the victor.

  3. Flosiin /

    Great write up. Totally agree. The buffs from melee can be very helpful

  4. Kaleigh Starshine /

    Very nice! I have often thought to try a bow, but I would end up shooting myself in the foot, I am sure 🙂

  5. Wilros /

    Great article! Even as someone who’s been playing the hunter for quite a while (whether I’m playing it well is another question), it was an enjoyable read.

    One thing I would like to add to your section on Tab-Targeting is that you can also use Backspace to target the mob closest to you. I have found it to be quite helpful.

    • Thanks – that’s a great addition, I’ll add it to the guide! (with credit to you, of course!) This is one of the reasons I love this game, been playing for 2 1/2 years and still learning!

      • Laineth /

        I like to use tab and shift-tab to cycle through mobs. It’s handy if I need to switch from target A to B and back to A for whatever reason (CC, finish off a fleeing mob, adds in a raid, etc.).

  6. Nice beginner guide, Brax! When are ya gunna break the news that the hunter is soon replaced with the class name “Taxi”?

  7. Lilikate Buggins. /

    Desperate flight is so cool! But as you say not for escaping from a group encounter. I use mine as another porting option. Very handy in Eregion, and Moria. Especially before you have earned the port skills for those regions.

    • Tueval /

      Lilikate Buggins is right — DF is really handy as an extra port to move around a zone.

      • I’ve always found my normal travel ports to be enough, but you two raise a good point, DF can be used as an extra port within a zone if you know the rez circle locations well enough. Me, I’ll keep D. Flight tucked safely away from my trigger-finger 🙂

    • Pasduil /

      It’s a useful port and sometimes an added bonus is that DF can jump you ahead to places you haven’t even discovered yet.

      When you’re questing through a region, you mostly don’t get your guide skills until you’re nearly done with that region, so any extra port is handy. And even after you do have the skill for that region if you’re questing somewhere like the Flaming Deeps, it’s far quicker to DF back to the quest hub than port to the 21st Hall and ride back down.

  8. Great Guide Brax!

    I might have to start playing my Hunter more 🙂

    Have fun

  9. Andang /

    This is a great article Brax! I really like the style of the writing!

  10. eldaeriel /

    great guide 🙂

    It’s really good advice that you give to try out different trait setups (and even situational trait setups) I’m generally a fan of the blue trait line (backed up with appropriate legacies) – a) because it’s faster 😉 and b) I generally group with a warden tank and the consistent dps of blue works much better for both the warden’s hate leech and for aggro management in general. (Red trait damage seems to be spikier)

  11. Fionnuala /

    I started an Elf Hunter recently. She’s only level 17 but I’m really enjoying it so far.

  12. Hadford /

    Thanks for the guide. I’ve been leveling my hunter on Landroval and it’s definitely a switch from my Champion. On more than one occasion I’ve charged in and started slashing at them with my melee skills… only to remember afterwards I could have cut them down at a distance. (I’m getting better! 🙂 I just hit 30, so it’s starting to get really interesting. Looking forward to trying out all the skills. Thanks again!

  13. crell /

    Please take a look at your stances. Precision does not in anyway affect miss chance. It has not since Update 9.

    http://www.lotro.com/en/game/articles/update-9-combat-revisions
    “Precision Stance no longer reduces Miss Chance.”

    • Absolutely right, I forgot about the Update 9 miss-chance revisions. I’ve adjusted that section based on your info – thanks! Guess they should change it to “focus stance” or something. Somebody better get out there and update Lotro Wiki! 🙂

  14. I have a lvl 40 hunter as my main, but I will be the first to admit that my playing style is “shoot things and run away screaming.”

    My brother, on the other hand, has a lvl 40something hunter, and his playing style is DO ALL THE RESEARCH AND ALL THE SCIENCE AND MAXIMIZE ALL THE EVERYTHINGS.

    And yet we can play the same game.

    This is why I love LOTRO. There is room for those of us who just want to shoot things and then run away screaming 🙂

    • With that play style, you’re really going to like the “Cry of the Hunter” skill you get at level 83!

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