I played my hunter all weekend, soaking up the last of the delicious double experience I'd saved up with her. I had a couple things to do in Uldaman still, since my last pug there was unable to complete it, so I put my name on the LFG list first thing on Saturday.
I got an invite after an hour or so, and joined a group consisting of a mage and another hunter. I recognized the other hunter -- we had quested together briefly in Stranglethorn a while back. I don't remember which quest specifically, but it was one where we had to kill a bunch of trolls, and we got our butts kicked. We'd send our cats in, and within moments, we'd be stormed by angry mobs that had been standing just around the corner where we couldn't see, I guessed. After a final suicide run to retrieve our bodies, we fled the scene, getting chased by a pack of gorillas as we tried to get to safer ground. I thought it was completely hilarious at the time.
So, recalling that fondly (unsuccessful though it was), I was looking forward to this Ulda run. When I joined, that made the group two hunters and a mage, so as far as I was concerned, as soon as we picked up a tank and healer, we'd be ready to go. Moments later, the hunter invited another mage. Hmm. I supposed my cat could tank, but I'd never be the first to suggest it. I just made my way toward the summoning stone and thought I'd wait to see what happened.
It seemed like it took a very long time to get a fifth. I think this is in part because we somehow were no longer on the LFG list for Ulda, and when I suggested that the hunter advertise in the LFG channel, he said he didn't know how. Instead, I think he just started looking for folks in the right level range and whispering to them. Must have been successful, because we finally got a fifth, a druid, who greeted us by saying, "Um, guys, I can tank or heal, but not both." Yeahh....
I seriously considered dropping from the group so they could find a fifth that would be more appropriate, but since it had taken us so long to get five together, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. At least if I stayed we'd all be playing instead of waiting, and if it was clear it wasn't going to work, we'd just call it quits. One of the mages pointed out that we should have pretty good DPS and crowd control capabilities, so as long as we communicated well, we should be fine. (I liked her!) I suggested that the leader (the other hunter) mark the pulls so we'd all know what was what. This ended up not happening.
Instead, it was decided that the other hunter and I would have our cats each tank a different mob to split up the aggro. So, at the beginning of each pull (some of these with six mobs ready to charge us), the plan was that we'd each mark a mob with our hunter's mark, signifying we were ready. Then, we'd release the cats and ideally, the DPS could focus on the two marked mobs first. In theory, this probably could have worked. The problem, however, was that the other hunter was specced Marksmanship, not Beast Mastery, so this meant that he was doing a lot more damage than his cat. He possibly could have compensated for this by delaying his fire and letting the cat build up some aggro, but he didn't make an attempt to do this at all. Each pull went like this:
1) He'd put up his hunter's mark, and then I'd put up mine. We'd both send our cats in.
2) I'd wait a few moments for my cat to growl before shooting. He would start shooting immediately, sometimes before his cat even got to the mob.
3) My cat would effectively tank its assigned mob. He would pull aggro on his mob and usually most of the others in the area, and they would come rushing over to our party.
4) My cat and I would kill the one mob I'd marked, and then I'd hurry my cat back to try to help sort out the chaos in the area where we were standing.
5) Lather, rinse, retrieve corpses, repeat.
The mages did try to sheep whenever they could, but mostly it was futile. At one point I asked the other hunter if he was using multi-shot, given that he was pulling so many mobs to the group on every single pull. He said he wasn't, so it just must have been due to poor decisions in timing/choosing his other shots. One of the mages finally asked to be leader so that she could mark a few mobs for sheeping. This helped quite a lot, but I swear, this other hunter pulled every single mob that my cat wasn't tanking on every single pull. It was unbelievable.
(Note, I did download AuldLangSyne, and while it isn't quite what I expected, it is kind of cool. Whenever you apply notes to another player, it includes them when you hover your pointer over them. So, in this case, hovering over the other hunter would make it say:
Level 43 Blood Elf Hunter
It made me smile every time.)
We wiped only once, but like I said, those poor mages had to collect their bodies many times during the instance. It was taking us long enough, too, that those retrieving their bodies had respawns to deal with, so the whole group had to go back to help at one point. The mage who was leading us showed us the back way in to speed up later body retrievals, but I was beginning to doubt our ability to handle the final boss, given the way things had gone up to that point.
We made it to the final room, and the mage now in charge suggested that the other hunter have his cat tank the boss while mine took care of all the adds. Seriously? I whispered her and said I thought my cat might be able to hold aggro better on the boss. I told her I was worried about the other hunter's cat doing any major tanking because the other hunter had pulled aggro to himself on every single pull. "Hold up," she said, and whispered a thanks for the suggestion. The way she said it, I thought she might be discounting the idea at first, but then she reversed her orders. My cat would tank the boss, and the other hunter would take care of the other stuff. Whew.
It was really a very close fight, but we brought down Archaedas in one attempt. It was awesome... my cat managed to hold his attention through lots of growling and some well timed intimidations. Both the druid and I kept her healed enough that she was still there at the end of the fight. She was down to 10% of her hit points as Archaedas fell, and I was down to less than half of mine thanks to some roaming adds I happened to engage during the fight. One person died (either a mage or the druid -- can't remember now), so ... not too bad. Way better than I was expecting.
Archaedas dropped the Stoneslayer, and again, in this group, everyone was rolling greed on bind-on-pickups whether they planned to use the items or not. I really prefer to pass on BoPs unless I plan to use them, but I finally said, "what the heck" and rolled greed and won it. I didn't feel too badly about it since it's doubtful that anyone other than the other hunter or I could use it, and the other hunter had just won Grimlok's Charge earlier (in a roll that I passed on).
Anyway, it makes total sense to me why that hunter and I had such problems in Stranglethorn Vale before. It's also becoming clearer to me why hunters have such a reputation for not knowing how to play their class. Seems like I've run into so many clueless ones recently.
(My hunter is now at 47! Whee!)