Windserpent Review

Windserpent – Swiftwing Shredder (69)

Overall Rank: 7/23 – Recommended

Name: Screwtape
DPS: 143.4/159.2
HP: 6237
Armor: 11000
Damage reduction: 51.03%
Skills: Lightning Breath, Bite, Dive
Solo: (B-) Lightning Breath requires more pet management than most.
Instance: (B+) Good damage especially against high armor targets, and doesn’t get in the way as much as other fliers. Watch for shaman issue.
BG: (B) Lots of PvP gear leads to higher crit and more LB.
Arena:(B) LB from distance seems to really annoy those that immobilize.

In my opinion (which this entire site is) this is not a pet for beginners. Windserpents are the sports cars of pet families. They are temperamental, require a ton of special treatment, and have huge potential. However, for all that work, in the real world, they just get you from A to B just like anything else.

Positives: Lightning Breath can help you pull from range, letting you pull where you may not have dared before. It scales (gains additional damage) from the hunter’s AP (unlike claw and gore), and also deals magic damage which means armor does not mitigate it. LB is also a focus dump meaning as often as you have 50 focus, it can be cast. So, there’s also some nice synergy with GftT and Beastial Discipline. The slimmer profile and smaller wing span means it doesn’t get in the way as much.Dive + higher damage + focus dump make this a recommended pet.

You may reasonably ask, why are windserpents below raptors, everyone says they’re better? Answer: People are lazy.  Windserpent are indeed better, but I’d bet 50% of the people would tame a WS and then come back posting about how they used to have a raptor, and now their DPS went down with their new WS because they didn’t read the next part of the review.  It’s a pet you have to know how to use to use it effectively unlike almost every other pet family which is basically tame and play.  I’m hoping that if anyone ever uses my list to argue against getting a WS, the person on the other end points them to the actual review portion rather than just the ranking numbers.

Warning: Buyer beware.

There’s a bug with Lightning Breath where the pet tries to get to ranged before casting it. I found this to happen even while soloing. The second LB annoyance is that while it can be used to pull, it also means that the mob has to get to your pet before he can growl. Several times I mistakenly opened fire when the mob ran a bit and then stopped short delaying the growl. Agro on me, and if I happen to crit, it wasn’t coming off until the mob was dead. Both of these problems can be fixed by taking LB off auto cast and /macroing it to your steady shot. (This also negates the pulling from ranged advantage.)

This causes another issue, which is that although LB is a focus dump it uses it a chunk at a time. So I would have 15 focus, crit and gain 50 focus, gain a tick from beastial discipline and anything over 100 was wasted because I had to wait for my steady to fire. It’s not that it can’t/doesn’t do well, you just have to pay attention. Attention that may mean you don’t notice a mob/ganker/raid boss coming up behind you.

And what have you gained for all this work? Nothing a Cat, Ravager, or any other above this can’t give. You should also be aware that enhancement shaman’s Stormstrike ability increases damage from the next 2 nature attacks. LB will use those up, when they are better spent on a Boomkin or Elemental spell.

Final note: The run animation is currently (3/31/08) broken. It goes through only a small amount before looping back. It’s hard to describe but it’s very stuttery and distracting.

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18 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    The serpents sometimes steps back to cast LB. It is annoying.
    I do not know if they still do that.

  2. Melki said,

    I had read elsewhere that the beauty of LB is that it ignores armor. This is especially good in PvP. Are you able to confirm/refute this?

  3. Znodis said,

    Both of these are in the review, but yes it still tries to get to ranged and yes it does ignore armor. LB also scales with RAP, but very minimally.

  4. Goeben said,

    I have had a windserpent as my main pet for almost two years now. I got her primarily for rarity (at least back then) and RP, but I have really come to appreciate lightning breath; the damage and agro generation are excellent. You really notice the difference when you fight nature immune mobs such as earth elementals.

    The propensity to go to range is not really a “bug,” as it is predictable and supposedly functioning as intended. Here’s what I have observed: when a windserpent has LB on autocast, it will try to go to range only when its target is immobilized in some way AND the windserpent has enough focus to cast LB.

    I haven’t attempted to catalog all the conditions that trigger this behavior, but it seems to include all stuns and root effects, and perhaps some snares. (Immobilized is different than CC; with the current AI, if something is CCed [trapped, scattershot, sheeped, etc.] any pet stops attacking immediately.) For some effects, it seems to differ depending on whether the pet has agro, or someone else. But if you watch very carefully, the behavior is consistent when the conditions are the same.

    For soloing, this behavior shouldn’t be any problem; you should know when you are using an immobilizing effect, for example Improved Conscussive Shot or Concussive Barrage, and adjust accordingly.

    It does become tricky in groups because it is often impossible to keep track of the immobilizing effects your tank, rogue, ice mage, etc. may be casting. Macroing LB can be a big help, because manually casting LB seems to bypass the AI functionality that causes this behavior.

  5. Znodis said,

    If you’re not willing to use a macro like this, do not use this pet. To further the car analogy, it would be like buying a sports car and refusing to change the oil. Ever.

    #showtooltip Steady Shot
    /castrandom [target=pettarget,exists] Kill Command
    /cast [target=pettarget,exists] Lightning Breath
    /castsequence reset=2/target !Auto Shot, Steady Shot
    /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear();

  6. Goeben said,

    A Steady Shot/Kill Command/Lightning Breath “spammable” macro is fine for high level hunters who want to go that route. Most engame players will find that this maximizes their DPS.

    A simpler SS/LB macro is just fine too. Personally, I’m with BRK on this one — I have nothing against macros in general, but I would prefer to time my own shots rather than using a spammable macro. A little less DPS perhaps, but a lot more fun for me.

    But for hunters who are still leveling, and do not yet have KC or SS and therefore can’t use such a macro, there is nothing wrong with having a windserpent for a pet. If you really want to, you can macro LB into another shot, like Arcane Shot.

    Or you can learn to work with the autocast “bug,” though most hunters probably don’t have the patience to do so. And there is nothing wrong with that either.

  7. Artdia said,

    The animation for the pre-BC wind serpents (for example, Soul Flayer form ZG) is NOT broken.

  8. Darketernity said,

    I personally Find Windserpents a great pet for Survival Hunters. I’m currently Survival, in raids I have 1k agility and 37% chance to crit and once Master Tactician proc I go to 47%. Thus, More crit, more GftT, more LB. Not saying my dps is amazing, Survival isn’t the greatest dps spec for hunters but I definitely keep the Expose Weakness up and my Windserpent keeps the LB coming.

  9. Ziv said,

    As a 41/20/0 BM hunter, I personally I prefer the windserpents over any of the other DPS pets, because of Lightning Breath. The two focus generating talents, GftT and Bestial Discipline, combined with a high crit rating (>25%) will have LB being cast a lot and thus have higher DPS than the others. To avoid the issue with it leaving melee to get into range to cast a LB, just take it off of autocast, and cast LB manually with a macro. This will keep it in melee and blasting LB at your target, and I can’t forget to mention Kill Command. With a properly formed macro and nice rotation, a windserpent is awesome.

  10. Sundog said,

    has anybody else noticed thier windserpent being particularly slow? i’ve run into a few occassions where i’ve been off running somewhere, and suddenly find myself in combat only to find my pet has gone fishing!! although it has been a while since i’ve played that toon, maybe it’s been fixed?

  11. Scott said,

    I still have my windserpent on one of my NE’s, and have to confess I am one of those “lazy” wind serp players who is probably guilty of every single sin you listed above (sorry!); I got him as he seemed the best fit for a +crit build (7-13-41), and for a little while (namely for the first couple levels after obtaining LB 6 from ZG) things went swimmingly.

    Since then I’ve noticed slowly diminishing returns – I had been blaming the lack of higher ranked LBs in Outlands and cursing the (perceived) lack of benefit from RAP scaling… but what you’re saying makes sense.

    I’m just a bit curious about tying LB to steady shot though – how are you doing for mana during solo/PVE when spamming steady shot? Personally I find that forces me to either spend most of the time in aspect of the viper or deal with frequent drink breaks (when you’re piling on +AGI gear, +MP5 tends to fall by the wayside…)

  12. Eriko said,

    The “must be at max range” bug’s been partly fixed in one of the recent patches – now they only fly out to range to cast it if the target is stunned or rooted, otherwise they’ll stay in melee range.

  13. Aylfric said,

    Actually, Eriko, that’s how windserpents have always behaved.

  14. Ayrianna said,

    I love my Wind Serpent and I’m so glad that I’m at the point of progression where it does more dps that a ravager. If you want to use one for raiding, I don’t suggest taking one until you’re at around 2k AP and more than 28% crit rating- waiting until 2k/30% is even more ideal.

    For the 10-70 grind, I don’t think that WSs are bad. They’re a bit tougher than Cats and Ravagers (since they have 0% Armor and 0% Health- Cats and Ravagers have negative modifiers). I have a level 30 horde hunter, and I recently tamed Arikara on her. The puff of smoke is really amusing, but for some reason it runs really slow, but I think that’s all the pets that hunter has.

    As a side note, there have been discussions about how the “Caster” Stat WSs have a higher DPS potential than Melee stats WSs. The theory is that since Caster WSs have higher Intellect, their chance to crit with Lightning breath is higher- about 5% higher. This in turn translates to more FI uptime. However, if you have 30% chance to crit, your WS is using LB enough that FI has a 98% uptime anyway, and you can actually buff it with Arcane Brilliance to increase its chance to crit more.

    So no matter what you hear about Caster WSs, just stick with the noncasters. You’ll be so much happier with that extra 1k health than you would be with that extra >2% FI uptime.

  15. brian said,

    i totally aggree with ayrianna just above my post. u need the stats for this pet to out dps a ravager. is that why this is only 7th on your list?

  16. brian said,

    ok just learned how to read. know why u put em 7th on the list. srry

  17. Mienja said,

    My wind serpent is my top pet atm. He is used to offtank in instances like Kara…including Heroic ones. The thing to avoid is getting the caster ones. STAY AWAY from CASTER windserpents. My windserpent RARELY loses agro, and is awesome at his crits, even tho I don’t use the LB skill much, he still outdamages most on the team, ‘cept me of course, haha! He’s awesome at pinning the mob in place and keeping them there, then the chunks just keep flying. With dive, he’s there Right NOW and pvp players HATE this pet on them. On more than one BG, by the end, they’re looking out for yu to get rid of you and your Zappy pet FAST, before you kill too many of THEM. Good Luck, is my response… gogo Zappy!!

  18. Nokk said,

    I used the wind serpent from the horde quest in 1k needles pre-BC, absolutely amazing. We terrorized 40-49 BGs for quite some time. And although the skin isn’t unique, when you call pet, it appears with a puff of smoke and some thundering… always fun before a bg match starts.

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