Innate Skills

July 31, 2007 at 8:26 am (Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I hit 10 on my new ICftB tauren hunter, and finally got my taming quests. The first 2 were quick and then I tamed a swoop. The interesting thing was that he had an innate skill.

swoop1

Cool, I thought, now I don’t need to learn screech for when I tame my owl. I was about to hearth back and log for the night when I thought to check exactly what screech does. This was the tool tip:

swoop2

Holy cow. An AoE stun from a pet. Needless to say I spent the full time limit trying to learn the skill… and then the other 2 charges as well. I went back to the quest-giver, expecting to have failed the quest since I no longer had a swoop pet, but he still would allow me to complete it. I debated for a second, then decided I’d rather move on and get to Teldrassil to tame an owl, than make a second attempt at learning something I couldn’t.

But this is really fascinating to me. There are 18 different beasts to tame for the level 10 quest: 3 for each of the 6 hunter starting areas. I doubt that this is the only hiccup. Anyone else found a beast durring those quests that had a skill you couldn’t learn?

List so far:

Swoop (Mulgore) – Swoop: Inflicts normal damage plus 18 to enemies in a cone in front of the caster, stunning them for 2 sec.

Barbed Crawler (Azuremyst Isle) – Thorns: 3-4 damage when hit. (I’d like a SS of the tool tip if possible.)

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Beginner’s FAQ

July 30, 2007 at 10:15 am (Guide, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Turns out people like useful information. Who knew?

I started a new hunter on Zangramarsh with ICftB and I’m having a good time. Just got my tauren an owl. But playing in the newbie area, I’ve grown to appreciate how much I actually know about hunters, and there is A LOT to know.

I told Mania a few weeks ago I’d work on a FAQ for hunters to help make the info over at petopia more accessible to new players. Expect lots of links there. If you have any questions, questions you’ve been asked by a newbie, or examples of your own public newbness (not n00bness) let me know in a comment and I’ll try to keep things up to date.

The FAQ will be in the form of Guides for each area on the right side bar here. I’ll be adding links as the guides are completed.

Hunter Playstyle:

Pet Types:

  • What pet should I choose?
  • What is a pet family?
  • Where do I find a ____?
  • How are pet families different?
  • Are elite beasts better pets?
  • What are caster pets?

Hunter’s Pet Commands and Abilities:

  • When do I get a pet?
  • How can I tell if a pet is tamable?
  • How do I tame pets?
  • How do I feed my pet?
  • If I dismiss my pet will I lose it?
  • If I abandon my pet will I lose it?
  • What happens if my pet dies?

Pet Skills:

  • What skills can my pet learn?
  • What are the best skills?
  • How does my pet learn skills?
  • How do I learn skills to teach my pet?
  • What is Loyalty Level?
  • Will my ____ ever get a unique or improved skill?

Problems:

  • My pet keeps running away and I need to tame a new one!
  • There’s a red, unhappy or yellow, blah face next to my pet.
  • My pet can’t taunt mobs off me!
  • I can’t tame ____.
  • I can’t get a group!

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Choosing the Right Pet

July 26, 2007 at 11:51 am (Guide, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I think it’s about time to do something constructive here. The question at hand is ‘Which pet should I choose?’

Well if you think about it, there’s really 2 things a pet can do. They can hold agro while you kill things, or they can kill things for you. But looking further, they’re both the same thing. If a pet isn’t keeping up with your damage, they aren’t holding agro and the mob is quickly closing. HP and armor are nice but can be augmented with Mend Pet as needed. DPS can only be improved by increasing your own attack power, but if your pet is losing agro already improving AP is counterproductive.

So let’s talk about the variables of Pet DPS: base stats and abilities. Below is a table of the pets ranked according to their DPS modifiers. Taking a pet with a modifier of 1.07 or higher is a nice start.

Family DPS Modifier
Raptor
Ravager
Cat
Bat
Owl
Spider
Wind Serpent
Nether Ray
Gorilla
Hyena
Dragonhawk
Carrion Bird
Crocolisk
Wolf
Tallstrider
Serpent
Spore Bat
Crab
Scorpid
Warp Stalker
Bear
Turtle
Boar
1.1
1.1
1.1
1.07
1.07
1.07
1.07
1.03
1.02
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
0.95
0.94
0.94
0.91
0.9
0.9

*Data from http://petopia.brashendeavors.net/html/articles/stats_families.shtml

To further maximize DPS, the largest factor is a focus dump ability. What’s a focus dump? It’s an ability that can be used as soon as there’s focus to use it. This means choosing a pet with Claw, Gore, Screech, Lightning Breath. The first 2 are basically 2 ways to do the same thing. Screech has the advantage of affecting multiple mobs which is nice, and Lightning Breath is nice for initial agro and counteracting crits with GftT. Damage isn’t the only way to generate threat tho, and players have found that boar’s charge is a great way to glue a mob to your pet. Boars already have gore as well so for soloing, they’re considered one of the best pets though I personally haven’t tried one yet.

The other issue is PvP. If your pet is not in range of your opponent, it isn’t doing anything. Luckily, some pets also get movement abilities: Dash, Dive, Charge, Warp. Dash and Dive just give a speed boost which is nice all around. Warp instantly puts your pet in attack range, but since most melee players ignore pets, the bonus to dodge is wasted. Here again, Charge is supremely useful. Not only does it put your pet at the enemy in a second, but it immobilizes which is another second you can use to get to/stay at ranged.

This grouping of abilities yields the following table. PvE focused individuals can choose anything from the top 2 cells, while PvP focused will probably be happiest with either of the left 2 cells. I would recommend a pet from the top-left cell to any player. Conveniently, all but the warp stalker are available before level 20 for lowbies, and all but the boar* are available at level 65 or higher so the grind there is minimal. (*Ravager coming in 2.2) The pets in red have the further advantage of being high DPS.

Movement & Focus Dump Focus Dump
  • boar
  • carrion bird
  • cat
  • owl
  • raptor (PTR – 2.2?)*
  • ravager
  • warp stalker
  • windserpent
  • bear
  • crab
  • raptor (current)*
  • scorpid
Movement Neither
  • bat
  • dragonhawk
  • hyena
  • nether ray
  • tallstrider
  • wolf
  • crocolisk
  • gorilla
  • serpent
  • spider
  • sporebat
  • turtle

*Raptors currently are getting dash on the PTR.

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Official

July 22, 2007 at 12:26 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

exalted68.jpg

Just finished getting my dragon, and my crab is now 50% through 68. He started at about 50% through 62. Now Netherwing quests may not all involve killing mobs, but those were the ones I made sure I did everyday. The quests were somewhat interesting, and by the time I got revered I had enough that I could pick and choose the dailies I wanted to do and avoid some I could get bored with. Overall it’s the most painless grind I’ve done in WoW.

Leveling a pet just involves killing things for no other reason than to see the little purple bar slowly fill up, and the reward is nowhere as cool as getting to ride a dragon.

So if the devs don’t take my advice of deleting the stables (sorry about that, it’s been a negativity filled week) pet exp really needs to be looked at. My personal goals would be while leveling, given an average amount of questing, a pet should level up before the hunter is 50% of the way through. I’m thinking that this can be done by giving the pet exp based on what the hunter earns from mobs which will take rested state into account, as opposed to gaining exp percent from the mob’s base exp. And if that’s not enough open it up further to include any exp gained including quests. The current system actually rewards hunters for avoiding quest. And is there any reason that a pet needs to be a level behind the hunter? The only reason I can think of is to prevent leveling more than one pet while leveling the hunter, but I don’t see anything wrong with that either.

A level 70 hunter should gain pet levels 60-70 each in about an hour of grinding. Scaling through levels of course. Over all a total of ~10-12 hours to get a pet from 60-70. This seems to be a reasonable amount to me. A ‘hardcore’ could do it in a day if that’s all he focused on. A more casual player with 2hours a night could do it in a week. For any one saying this is too short, remember until about level 67 (with my very poor gear) it was impossible not to pull agro from the pet. I’d imagine a epiced out hunter would have problems until 69 or 70 even scaling back damage.

Actually, another idea would be to have a daily quest at 70 where you could talk to the NPC to automatically gain a level for one of your pets as the only reward. Now you have the choice bewteen a grind or patiently waiting. Now to find someone going to BlizCon to convince a dev… Or beat them with fish until they give in.

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OMG First Details of Next WoW Expansion from a Blue!!!1111one11

July 20, 2007 at 8:17 am (Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

An official blue post about details from the next World of Warcraft expansion. The very first details can be found here:

Re: Please – Can’t we at least have a tiny hint

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Good-bye Stable

July 19, 2007 at 8:10 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

This is just to clarify (for myself as well) why I think the stable needs to go away.

I have come to the opinion that the stable is a crutch. Not for players, but for the devs.  For players, the stable is just a place to put your pet while taming or your useless pet while you (pointlessly) wait for it to be buffed.  It is unnecessary.

At the outset of WoW, there were 4 classifications of pets (armor, hp, dps, balanced), varying pursuit speeds, attack speeds, but only a few choices for pet abilities (claw, bite, or nothing). All pets got growl, and in 2.5years I have yet to meet anyone that routinely uses cower. There really was a huge variety of pets. Though most were bland, there were some really interesting ones, for specific situations.

A few years later all pets can now be categorized by 2 questions: Does the pet have a focus dump ability and does it have a speed ability?

A pet that does not have a focus dump ability simple doesn’t have a snowballs chance in MC of holding agro. DPS is the only variable between pet families that determines whether it can produce enough threat to both solo tank or group DPS. HP and armor are non-factors if the pet isn’t getting hit and that’s the biggest issue right now. There are talents which allow the pet to generate extra focus, but with an ability on CD that’s just a wasted proc.

Dash, dive, charge, and warp are the type of skills critical to PvP. Most players know to ignore the pet when encountering a hunter. A good one will know to CC it. The movement abilities keep the pet doing damage and are just as critical as charge and shadowstep in PvP for keeping the enemy in melee range.

So there are now four categories of pet family:

Movement & Focus Dump Focus Dump
  • boar
  • carrion bird
  • cat
  • owl
  • ravager
  • warp stalker
  • windserpent
  • bear
  • crab
  • raptor
  • scorpid
Movement Neither
  • bat
  • dragonhawk
  • hyena
  • nether ray
  • tallstrider
  • wolf
  • crocolisk
  • gorilla
  • serpent
  • spider
  • sporebat
  • turtle

Pets in the top left I could recommend to anyone. There are some strengths and weaknesses there, but really any one is as good as the other. The 2 I’d say are furthest apart are the cat and warp stalker. There’ you’re trading DPS for some HP, but that’s basically an extra mend pet for the cat. And there’s the point. I can’t see someone saying ‘hold on a second, I have to hit the stables and swap out my cat for my warp stalker.’ The difference may be noticeable, but I doubt it will really matter.

So if you don’t need 2 pets, why have a stable? Here’s some reasons to get rid of it:

– Ends the when will my ____ get a family ability. Lets be frank. There’s just no way to maintain 23+ families over every expansion for the next X years. The only reason people still complain is that they have that favorite pet sitting in the stables. As someone in that situation, I can honestly say that I’d be saddened by the loss. But I’m willing to cut the cord and change the complaints from ‘give my crab an ability’ to ‘I remember back when I had a crab.’ Honestly, my raptor is superior and even he isn’t in the recommended box.

Narrow that list to 7-10 current pets, with 2-3 recommended pets added each expansion, and things are a bit more reasonable.

– Makes pets truly a partner. With no stable, people may try out a new pet when there’s 2 recommended at similar levels, but you spend the days /played with the same group of pixels next to you and you grow attached.  This seems to be one of the design goals for hunters.

– Slows flavor of the month pets. Everyone tame King B. Everyone tame a windserpent. Everyone grab a scorpid. If your pet could be nerfed at anytime, you may have second thoughts about grabbing that level 20 and trying to get it to 70 before the bug gets fixed. More power to those that can.

– Ends the tantalizing apple of ‘different pets for different times.’ Look, stables are too inconvenient for that anyway. No one wants to stop the raid while the hunters go swap pets for the next boss.  If you’re goal is to make pet classes that are useful all the time, you don’t need a stable.

– Similarly, keeps pet’s well rounded. With no stable, dev’s have no right to say ‘well just stable that pet for now, we’ll fix it soon.’  If you want a better pet, drop the old, get a new.

– It’s impossible to level 2 pets anyway. Having a stable doesn’t help get 2 pets up simultaneously. Without fail, one will make it to the level cap with the hunter and then it’s possible to start another. No stable required.

– Absolutes. Honestly, when people ask what pet should I get they want a short list. With the exception of the warp-stalkers all of those pets are available before level 20. And except for boars and carrion all are available close to 70 as well.

The only reason for stables right now is that they are necessary for taming and learning new skills.  However, there’s a solution there too.  Just leave the current taming bug in and purge the stable at logout.

Taking out stables resets the player expectations, and the dev’s priorities.  It will force players’ choices to be more meaningful.  Dev’s will be free from managing too many types of pets to concentrate on making a few good ones with what players need.  And once they actually have pets figured out, they can go back and ‘fix’ the rest.

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Improving the Pet Grind

July 18, 2007 at 10:03 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I have a break from upgrading the office PCs so everything runs slower, so I thought I’d devote some time to thinking about how to improve the pet grind issue. The first question I realized is: Is it really an issue?

There are currently 15 of the 23 pet families have at least one mob that begins at level 66 or higher and ravager will be there at 2.2. The ones left out are bear, boar, carrion bird, crab, gorilla, hyena, and turtle. Of those 7, the boar and carrion bird families are really the only 2 that I think there’s a gameplay reason to go back and tame. Both are well-rounded pets that can hold agro very well. Boars are additionally good for PvP.

I have to acknowledge that my own leveling experience was basically for sentimental reasons. When put to the test, I can’t think of a reason for me to stable my raptor in favor of my crab. Why should Blizzard devote man-hours to helping me get my pet from worthless at 62 to sub-par at 70?

I think this really goes to the tried and true if it aint broke dont fix it. If they were to go back and make all the pet families worthwhile, they would then be responsible to keep them that way through the lifespan of the game. Adding new families in the next expansion(s) would just grow the problem. Would I love to see forgotten pet families improved? HECK YA! But to do so, I really think the pet system needs to be re-evaluated.

Granted, it’s really hard to know the consequences of a given ability, but Blizzard seems to respond by bringing everything back to a bland playing field. For instance: Lupos. This was a wolf in duskwood that when tamed dealt shadow damage. That’s right it ignored armor. Was it over powered? Well on a medium DPS pet, yes. But what if they had instead given that ‘bug’ to a low dps pet or just plain lowered the DPS? OP now? Not really, but still very useful in certain situations. The type of pet you may want to level up for that one encounter where he really shines.

Example 2: Spire Spiderling. Was the original fast attack speed pet at 1.2 seconds. (For some reason the cat loving devs decided to give some cats 1s attack speeds later, because cats weren’t favored enough evidently.) Same DPS keep in mind. They just did less damage more often. The only real advantage was that in PvP caster’s hated them, and with good reason. I really was shocked when the 2s was normalized. With the reduction in Kill Command damage for fast Attack pets, the imbalance of caster interruption seemed to be offset. But I guess you can’t have all those kitty fans complaining about their loss of DPS (and superiority). With Cobra Reflexes, any pet can now have some advantage, but since everyone takes it, it really added no variety.

And last, pursuit speed. For those in love with Dash/Dive, it used to be that certain pets just inherently had faster movement speed. I believe the first was Takk the Leaper followed, of course, by several cats. The PvP advantages are obvious and it also decreased grinding time/annoyance slightly. This was replaced by the previously mentioned Dash/Dive.

I guess my point here is that we know they can make pets with specialized abilities, but choose not to. Why? I can only think of two reasons: new players and stable slots. I guess it was too complicated to talk about advantages to pets for new players. They seem to want to let a new player ask what’s best, get an answer, and be happy the rest of his WoW life. And according to some blue post, Stable Slots are evidently very memory intensive. Having more than two pets stabled would bring their poor, sub par servers to their knees forcing the SysAdmins to step out of the money vats that employees swim in and kick the motherboards until they function again.

Unless the pets in question were all cats of course.

Was that going too far? I suppose so… my apologies.

It seems that Bliz is only interested in giving us one good pet instead of several excellent, but situational pets. To the horror of many, including myself, I actually think they should get rid of stables slots. …I can’t believe I just said that… This eliminates the false impression that different pet’s have different utility, and would force the dev’s to make all families equal. It also reinforces the pet as a companion, which seems to be a class goal.

Wow. That really didn’t go where I thought it would. I was going to talk about how leveling a pet gave it a sense of a character and attachment. Truly, feeling like another character in the world. And that my basic solution would be to give pets rested exp like the hunter becoming permanent at level 70. Instead somehow convinced myself that to improve pets we need to eliminate the stable.

Anyway.

In conclusion, there really is a simple solution. Put a level 70 boar in Old Hillsbrad, and some 70 carrion birds in Black Morass.

PS: If you couldn’t tell from the above, I’m not a big fan of cats.  Neither in real life or WoW.

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Pet Grind > Exalted

July 17, 2007 at 9:13 am (Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I started my grind for a netherwing mount a few weeks ago. Since I’d only had time to play a few hours a night the daily quests really appealed to me. I also figured that my original pet crab deserved to be level 70. But I had noticed on my way to 70 that my raptor was really lagging behind my character. There were even times when I for instance hit level 68 before he hit 67. So, I decided to test to see which takes longer: a rep grind from neutral to exalted or leveling a pet from 62 to 70.

Well I’m currently at 9975/21000 revered with the Netherwing, and my pet just dinged 68.

I’m prepared to say this is ridiculous.

Now keep in mind, that previously mentioned raptor was tamed from the wailing caverns the summer before BC was released. It took me a couple lazy weeks to get him to 60. I did it through grinding Timbermaw rep and went from a bit into neutral to 1200 into friendly. at level 60 I still got exp from the level 48-49’s. I guess that’s both a testament to how hard rep grinds used to be, and how hard it is to level a pet now.

This is just a frustration post for now. There are some ‘simple solutions’ like halving exp required or doubling exp gained, but they don’t necessarily take into account other game factors.

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Two Point Two

July 13, 2007 at 8:24 am (Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

PTR patch 2.2 is out.  No word on new content, but since it’s not 2.1.4, I assume there’s some coming.  Here’s a brief summary of the current PTR notes for hunters:

  • Pets are now affected by Paladin greater blessings.  (About freaking time)
  • Lacerate… I saw this and shuddered before realizing this was in the druid section. (Go here and click on the survival tab… at your own risk).
  • Aspect of the Cheetah: This ability will now cause Hunters to become dazed when struck while sitting.
  • Aspect of the Pack: This ability will now cause party members to become dazed when struck while sitting.
  • Aspect of the Viper: This ability has received a slight redesign. The amount of mana regained will increase as the Hunter’s percentage of mana remaining decreases. At about 60% mana, it is equivalent to the previous version of Aspect of the Viper. Below that margin, it is better (up to twice as much mana as the old version); while above that margin, it will be less effective. The mana regained never drops below 10% of intellect every 5 sec. or goes above 50% of intellect every 5 sec.
  • Freezing Trap and Scare Beast duration against PvP targets has been reduced to 10 seconds.
  • Hunter’s Mark: The duration remaining graphic will now display properly for Hunter’s Mark after it has been refreshed on a target, and will properly consume mana when recasting it to refresh its duration.  (Very nice)
  • Kill Command will not charge the hunter mana if their pet is on passive.
  • Misdirection: Items used while Misdirection is active will now consume a charge correctly.
  • Steady Shot: The tooltip stating the percentage of Attack Power gained by Steady Shot was inaccurate and has been corrected. The damage remains unchanged.
  • Volley: This spell is now affected by area damage caps. Its bonus damage coefficients have also been increased. It also correctly consumes charges of Misdirection.
  • Leggings of Beast Mastery: The stamina and armor granted by this item for your pet have been increased.
  • Rift Stalker Armor: The pet healing set bonus now heals for a percentage of damage dealt by the Hunter.

The Aspect of the Viper change seems pretty big to me.  Soloing with my best pet, I almost never run out of mana.  Fights just don’t last that long.  This seems to switch it so that I’d be getting the efficiency I’m used to at ~50%.  Basically instead of always being at 100% mana, I’ll have to get used to 40%.

The other thing that’s interesting about this changed is that it may now be more useful to use AotH from 100-50% and then swap over to AotV to give a DPS boost at the beginning, and maximize mana regen later.  Hrm…

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UR Duin Eet Rong!

July 5, 2007 at 8:40 am (Hunter, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Huntard? You mean Hunt-I-guess-you-can-make-it-to-70-only-meleeing-if-you-really-try… Well that didn’t really work.

‘Grats to Gweryc Halfhand for his ding 70 as a completely melee hunter! I guess he did show it’s viable but leaves the question: how full of a playstyle can it really be? Or as a doctor would put it: He’s alive, but what’s his the quality of life? Is it comparable to say a cat druid to rogue? As in play the same but with fewer abilities. Or is it something completely different?

It seems there’s only a few abilities available, probably less than a full action bar. Lets see: Raptor, Mongoose, Wing Clip, Kill Command, Counterattack, 5 traps, Deterrence, and Intimidation. Well, with Auto-Attack that’s 13, so with aspects and tracking a total of 2 action bars. Ok, there’s trinkets and potions and tradeskills too, but really only one action bar for all possible abilities. That seems like a severe limitation to my options. Good grief, I forgot Feign Death. Wonder how often that gets pushed :)

From what I know of his playstyle, he’s focused on off tanking as a role, aiming for high stamina and defense. When I’ve tried melee hunter, I focused on Agility (w/ Lightning Reflexes) and Dodge to try to up my Mongoose availability, and it didn’t work too well. He also did a very good job of utilizing talents, but there are a few points I’d move in his posted talent trees.

Survival (current):

This is a really solid build for what he’s doing, and this is more of a ‘could move’ instead of ‘should move’ critique. It’s actually pretty amazing how many SV talents are not ranged specific. Might be one of the reason’s MM is still the go-to build for most hunters. It’s too bad that he couldn’t fit Thick Hide in here for the boost to armor, but then Intimidation and Bestial Discipline are definitely worth more.

I do wonder if Spirit Bond wouldn’t be the better choice here. Since he’s over 10k HP, that’s 100+HP/5s for both himself and his pet, and since the fights last longer, that’s going to make a bigger difference. On the other hand, BD is going to generate more focus over the combat and will definitely give more DPS than a typical hunter. My vote is that if he’s focused on off-tanking, even more so if his pet is OT’ing as well, take SB. If the pet is just there for DPS and has a 0s cooldown ability (claw, gore, lightning breath) take BD.

Beast Master:

My thoughts are this is a DPS – melee hunter build. The pet would be very buff, but losing a lot of the personal damage mitigation. My experience with the new Mend Pet says you don’t need to put points in to Improved Mend Pet. The mana reduction is nice, but the difference between 300 and 240 mana is not really significant enough IMO. And really, how often does your pet absolutely need to be cleansed. Improved Revive Pet might be worthwhile, but I would still take Improved Aspect of the Monkey to keep Mongoose active and myself alive. I mean if you know a mob is going to be beating on you, 2% dodge per talent point should not be passed up.

For the SV part of the build, I’d take 3 points out of one of the Slaying talents and put them in Deflection. Damage was definitely optimized with the original build, but as the saying goes “Dead hunters do no damage.”

The last thought here is that having recently read this by BRK recently linked from the petopia blog, a windserpent would at least give ranged pulling ability without having to skill up engineering. Put on Cower to negate that initial threat and you’re good to go.

A warp-stalker might also be worth looking into as an instance pet. Warping to the nub squishy that pulled agro could make lots of friends.

And for the record:

Optimal != Viable

Underpowered != Broken

Deadly Ability != Over-Powered

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