Musings on Hunter Life

This blog is called "Priest with a Cause" because once upon a time, I mained priests on both Horde and Alliance side, and at the time I couldn't even imagine ever wanting to be anything else. I didn't just play a priest; I was a priest. The classes and roles we play in an MMO define how we interact with the world and how others see us, and the way priests took care of others and were popular in groups just seemed to fit me to a T, even though me becoming one had been more coincidental than a conscious choice.

Mainly I'd rolled a priest because my friends suggested it, telling me that it was a class that was useful and in demand. Back then I didn't have any point of comparison to realise just how slow and awkward it was to solo as a priest compared to pretty much any other class, but I also spent a lot of time playing with my friends anyway, who were always happy to have a healer around. It just seemed to fit.

However, ever since I originally quit WoW during Cata, I've been eyeing priests with a certain weariness. I think initially I was just worried that becoming a priest again would feel too much like trying to turn back time and doing it all over again the exact same way, which is not something I wanted to do, but as time has passed, I've started to miss being a priest. The problem is that I now know how comparatively un-fun it is to play a priest (or any kind of healer) on your own, and I haven't had much luck with finding long-term companions to team up with. Remember how I started Classic as a resto shaman wanting to heal my friends, and then they all fell by the wayside? I also recall being so excited when my little dwarf priest first made it to Outland - and a couple of weeks later my guild fell apart.

So I've been a hunter for most of Classic more out of necessity than out of passion. Don't get me wrong; I like hunters... but it's just not the same. Naturally, it's always after I've levelled a hunter on my own that I actually find myself being pulled into the sort of social setting that I missed while levelling, and switching roles at that point is kind of awkward. I mean, in the Forks I did end up healing on my paladin for a good chunk of Naxx - and oddly, one of my friends told me that he thought the paladin felt more "me" than the hunter in a way he couldn't quite pin down - but ultimately, I was still considered a hunter main.

Back in Vanilla, hunters did not have a good reputation. However you may feel about them, terms and phrases like "huntard" and "all loot is hunter loot" didn't come about for no reason. Hunters were generally thought of as lazy, stupid and greedy. Mind you, that wasn't my personal experience.

The first hunter that really left an impression on me was a night elf called Drorion (whose player I would later go on to meet in real life once!) - I can't recall for sure how we first met, but it was somewhere in the higher levels, as I remember having him in our group for something or other in Feralas. Drorion was a clown and a bit of a troll (I remember how much he enjoyed winding me up with feign death, back when using that ability also showed you as dead to your fellow group members), but he was good company and also pretty good at the game. I have a screenshot of him soloing elite ogres outside Dire Maul while a small group of us just watches on. Nowadays a hunter soloing an elite isn't really that noteworthy I suppose, but to little noobish me it was pretty impressive!

He was also happy to do dungeons with us, where he would hang out near my priest at the back and protect me if a mob got loose and decided to come for me due to healing aggro. I liked Drorion, and by association Drorion made me like hunters. And honestly, it's continued to be my experience that people who play a very solo-focused class but make a conscious choice to join groups anyway often make for the best buddies, maybe because you know they really don't need to be there to have fun in the game but have chosen your company because they enjoy it. I've encountered this with both hunters and rogues.

My experience with the Forks certainly fit into that mould as well. Being a hunter may not have been my first choice, but boy, did I luck out joining the Fork hunters. Their leader was both an officer and everybody's darling, the kind of person who is online all the time and knows and talks to everyone. He made me feel very welcome from the beginning, but even aside from that, I guess the fact that he was both in a position of power and popular kind of set a certain tone for what it meant to be a hunter in the Forks.

We did have one guy who bucked the trend a bit by having a reputation for being a cantankerous old man, but the others... the second most respected hunter after the class leader was so beloved that he was chosen to be the guild's Scarab Lord, I became quite popular when I started uploading my first YouTube videos featuring the guild, and finally there was a young mother who was also always going on about how much she loved the guild and everyone in it.

We were loyal attendees to every raid, we were reasonably well-liked, and our leader demanded a certain degree of attention. While the way we were always asking for buffs for our pets was a bit of a meme, it was accepted that pets should be buffed, and also healed if any heals could be spared. I remember one time one of the druids even used his combat res on my pet, which I thought was hilarious. With that power came a certain degree of responsibility too, as we were assigned a number of special duties in certain fights even in places where it was perhaps not customary to use a hunter. (We had a special strat for Faerlina trash in Naxx for example which required all of the hunters to kite one mob each for a short amount of time.)

I'm recounting all of that to say that even though I perhaps didn't consider the hunter class the perfect fit for me and they weren't really Classic's big stars, being a hunter in the Forks was a pretty sweet deal due to the way circumstances had shaped their community. I may have "only" been a goofy hunter, but in their own way, the hunters were considered important and valued.

Now, the reason I bring this up is that for as nice as I've generally found my new Horde guild on Classic era, this is one area where things have sometimes felt a little "off" somehow, and I'm struggling to explain it in any other way than it being related to the class I'm playing. Basically, the Warriors of Sunlight seem to have a more - how shall I say it - "traditional" view of hunters, meaning that not much seems to be expected of them and the established hunters don't seem particularly sociable. For example it was only after I pointed out on Discord that all classes and roles except the hunters seemed to have an in-game chat channel that someone bothered to create one.

To be honest, that complete lack of expectations and interest in newcomers wasn't so bad during my first few raids, as it basically allowed me to look around and get a feel for the culture in a relaxed environment. (Bit of a contrast to the way the Forks immediately made me the designated puller in my first AQ20!)

However, as I've become more comfortable with how everything works, I've got to admit that the position of quiet tag-along has started to feel a bit "off" to me and I found myself craving both more social interaction as well as opportunities to prove myself. I've actually been really happy when the most senior hunter, who is (naturally) the only one who's given some responsibility every now and then by having to handle certain pulls, decided to bring his druid alt to BWL in recent weeks.

The raid leader actually seemed kinda surprised that I basically just stepped up and "usurped" the kiter/puller position without anyone asking me to when this happened, but where many hunters prefer to quietly meld into the shadows to avoid responsibility if they can, I was just weirdly desperate to make myself useful in some way. Those runs have felt more satisfying, but I've also found myself wondering whether I wouldn't be better off just returning to a healer role if I'm in this for a long run, which is something that more naturally creates situations where you talk, cooperate and have to take on some responsibility.


  1. One of my favorite people back in Classic --until he dropped out mid Naxx-- was a Hunter named Sitka. Great person, and we had a lot of fun out in the field. He was the one who kept saying "You are becoming one of us" when I joined that first AQ40 2 years ago. (It was that long ago? Yikes!)

    While I've come across the asshole Hunters out there in the field, the ones I've raided with I've really really liked. Such as the one who pulled in AQ40 and we'd buff her wolf Grr before each pull, even though we knew Grr was gonna bite the dust. Or the one who had a macro for Feign Death that said out loud "Roto has not really died" when Feign Death was invoked. Or Gruber, who used to curse whenever he pulled a mob in Naxx, but when something really went bad on a pull you'd hear "Oh.... no...." When I heard from a friend last night that there was a lot less trash in Wrath Naxx, my first quip was "What is Gruber going to do to wipe the raid now?"

    I guess I'm trying to say that the memorable Hunters are the sociable --or screwball-- type as opposed to the taciturn loners. I feel you there.

  2. Even the full 40-mans feel quiet sometimes! Most people keep to themselves, preferring to soak in the atmosphere rather than jump into conversation. Some only communicate through whisper. Others never at all.

    I've considered this a lot, since other guilds I've been in over the years were full of chatterboxes. Might be an age thing? Language barrier? I think there are smaller pairs/groups of people who chat to each other while playing. I often get whisper responses to things I've said in raid, which feels a bit odd for sure.

    As far as expectations of roles/players go, we basically have none and that's part of the culture. People don't get pressured or put on the spot because having a good time is the #1 priority. If you wanna step up then go for it, no one will stop you! It probably helps the leaders a lot to know they can count on someone in different situations/setups.

    1. Oh, I'm fine with not everyone talking in 40-mans. Would be pretty chaotic if they did! You kinda need at least some people to be happy to be quiet and just follow along there.

      The "no pressure/expectations" thing is still something I'm trying to adapt to. On the one hand I appreciate the sentiment, but I've got to admit that there've also been times when it came across almost as apathy to me - like everyone's saying: "You do you; we don't care what you do or whether you show up at all", which to me feels a little sad.

      I was wondering whether high turnover had just made people too jaded to interact with anyone who hasn't proven themselves over time, as they might've seen too many people who show up and join raids for a month and then just disappear again (which was a thing I saw in regular Classic as well, but it seems even more pronounced to me on era).

    2. Yeah the turnover is very high. Not that things are unfriendly, but there's certainly less necessity to get to know people. I guess it requires more effort to make others realise hey, I'm in it for the haul please interact with me! There's also a bit of history of players leaving on bad terms after being core members so perhaps some are a little wary. We had some recruitment issues so numbers became WAY more important than fun/interesting characters for a time. I totally get times where I feel like a nobody so it's nice to be reliable where I can, but understand that things will always keep spinning without me.