The Hunter in WoW (World of Warcraft) may be the most popular class in the entire game. This is because the class is fast to level, easy to play, and then there’s the coolness factor of having your own personal war machine as a pet.
The pet is what defines the Hunter. Almost any class can use a bow or gun, and Warlocks get a certain set of demons to pick from, but Hunters can tame and work with practically any critter in the game. Cats, bears, boars, crabs, Thunderhawks, Bats, Owls, and more, there’s a pretty long list of critters to pick from.
While any critter has it’s advantages, besides the coolness factor, I’m going to suggest you pick from bears, boars, or cats. Bears can really soak the damage, cats don’t soak as well, but they dish it out better, and the boar can take some punishment and has a nifty charge ability. That charge ability has additional uses in certain situations, such as PvP (Player Vs Player.)
When you hit the Hunter trainer always make sure you hit the Pet Trainer as well. Always keep your pet’s health, growl (if it has growl,) and armor maxed out. As your pet levels up it will get training points which you can spend on increasing its abilities.
Also, higher level critters have certain other abilities, so you will want to upgrade your pet occasionally. An example is the stealthy cats in Thousand Needles or Stranglethorn Vale. Dismiss your current pet (right click the pet icon and pick “dismiss” from the menu) and tame the new one. You’ll also eventually gain any special abilities your new pet has and will be able to train other pets with those abilities.
As far as your stats go you will want to get as much Agility as possible. It’s your number one stat, figuring into your damage, your Crit Bonus, and your dodge. It even adds to your armor. Since you won’t be engaging in melee combat (or shouldn’t be, anyway) you’ll have no use for Strength. Spirit is wasted on you.
Hunters do use Mana, but they don’t use it as fast as a caster (eg: Mage) so while a little Int (to increase your mana pool) is nice, don’t sacrifice Agility to get it. Stamina goes directly into Health, so more Stamina is always good, but you don’t need as much as a front line fighter (Rogues, for example.) Look for Agility first, then Stamina, maybe some Intelligence, then skip the others.
Some gear comes with special abilities such as “Attack Power” (AP.) This factors directly into your ranged damage so the more AP you can get the better. Other good ones to get are bonuses that add to your “Crit Rating” and/or Hit Rating.
Once you get your pet at level 10 your usual attack pattern for the rest of your career will be mainly this: send the pet in, let it grab the target’s attention, and then start shooting the target. Hunters are very weak melee fighters, even with their special melee attacks. Those attacks are mainly to hamper the target, allowing you to get back into shooting range. Your pet’s job is to handle all the melee combat.
Sometimes the target of your attack will ignore your pet and charge you instead. Other players will always do this. If that’s the situation then your freezing trap, wing clip, and concussive shots will allow you to get some breathing room. Feign Death works very well against monsters, but it won’t work more than once against players.
As far as talents go… well, that’s the subject of some interesting debate. My suggestion is to go down the Beast Mastery tree primarily, with come Marksman talents to supplement the BM talents. The idea here is to eventually make your pet into a lean, mean, destruction machine. Everything else is done in order to support that goal.
Lastly, work on your Hot Keys. You’ll want to bind your most used abilities to certain keys which you can easily reach while moving about. Try to develop a system where you can do the whole combat without ever having to use the mouse to click a target or activate a power.
For example, you use the WASD keys to move about and look around with the mouse. TAB will target your next opponent. Consider setting the F key to be your main attack, perhaps Arcane Shot. I use T for my auto attack and Shift+T for my pet attack.
If these keys don’t work for you that’s cool, come up with a better system. By not using the mouse for everything, but using the keys instead, you will greatly improve your fighting efficiency.
The Hunter is a pretty versatile class, actually. There is a lot of variety in pets and talents and many of the combinations one can come up with are quite worthwhile. Don’t be afraid to look into some of these variations and what things you may want to change, especially for PvP and Raiding.