Much-maligned but also underappreciated, the hunter’s level 85 ability, Camouflage, is our topic this time around. This post focuses pve applications for Camouflage and leaves pvp applications for those who know and care more about hunter pvp than I. This article was researched before 4.0.6, and while I’ve done my best to incorporate the patch’s changes to Camo it is possible I missed some unannounced changes.
The tooltip reads:
1 min cooldown
You blend into your surroundings, causing you and your pet to be untargetable by ranged attacks. Also reduces the range at which enemy creatures can detect you, and provides stealth while stationary.
You can lay traps while camouflaged, but any damage done by you or your pet will cancel the effect. Cannot be cast while in combat. Lasts for 1 min.
When Camouflage was previewed many months ago it fed into the sentiment that hunters would become nothing more than ranged rogues in Cataclysm. Indeed, Camouflage today is a weak Stealth and carries with it many similar tactical advantages. However, it fails to define hunters as Stealth defines rogues. It lacks Stealth’s synergy with other abilities, can’t be activated in combat, and has a cooldown long enough to prohibit frequent use. This leaves Camouflage on the periphery of hunter gameplay, useful but not essential. It’s Stealth-like/lite but it doesn’t make us Rogues.
Learning from Stealth
Even if Camo isn’t exactly Stealth, we can still learn about Camouflage from it. Here are some of the basics of Stealth that carry over for our ability. Note that they largely hold true for our pets when under the effect, too.
- Proximity matters. The closer you are to a mob, the more likely it is to become aware of your presence. If you enter its hitbox, you are basically guaranteed to alert it. One way to think of it is not that you’re invisible but that mobs’ agro radii have been reduced across the board. It’s like you’ve suddenly been made level 100 (or some other high level) and mobs are much more reluctant to attack you, but still will if you get too close.
- You’re more likely to be spotted if you’re in front of a mob. If a mob turns to face you, it has sensed something might be there and is on the lookout for anything suspicious.
- Conversely, if you move behind a mob you’re less likely to be spotted. Camouflage is markedly weaker than Stealth when it comes to this. Even level 7 mobs will notice and attack a Camouflaged hunter moving behind them in melee range.
- Oddly, this does not appear to be the case for pets. Pets in Camo can move around near and behind mobs as if they have full Stealth (at least to my untrained eyes). At they very least, they’re better at avoiding detection than players are.
- Holding still increases your chances of avoiding detection. This is true in a categorical sense for Camouflage since it turns into full-on Stealth (you even get an extra buff saying so).
- Level isn’t the only thing that determines chance for detection. For example, low-level bosses can be more likely to detect you in Camouflage than level 85 non-elites. Conversely, some dungeon elites are better at detection than the bosses they guard. I don’t know if there is much rhyme or reason to it. There is one way you can know if a mob has heightened Stealth detection, though: a blue eye hovering above its head denoting “Truesight.” This eye is only visible to a player in a Stealth state and so we can only see it when we hold still. I’m not making this up; there really are Stealth-seeing mobs will little blue eyes above their heads that you can only see when you’re in a Stealth state.
I was not able to perform strong tests for these rules. I succeeded in failing to find ways that Camouflage violated them, but that isn’t the same thing as, say, identifying quantitative values showing Stealth and Camouflage behaving the same ways. Nor is it the same as performing exhaustive testing with large sample sizes. As such, take the above principles with a critical eye.
What We Can Do in Camouflage
Given this rough sense of how Camo operates, we can now turn to what we can do in it. Here is a list of things that can happen in Camouflage without breaking it:
- The Stealth state does break upon use, so Disengage does not serve as a way to move while maintaining the stationary Stealth buff.
- This includes flasks and pots.
- gear changing
- Hunter’s Mark
- Master’s Call
- Mend Pet
- most non-perfomance-enhancing items (a guess based on those that I tested)
- This is an instance where Archaeology’s Wisp Amulet is actually useful. A Camo’d hunter in wisp form is very hard to see.
- pvp trinket activation
- Rapid Fire
- It resets the cooldown on Camouflage.
- Revive Pet
- The newly-revived pet is out of camo initially and so can take agro during that brief period. This also appears to be true for other types of pet summoning in Camo, such as occurs when dismounting via activating the ability.
- starting some non-channeled casts
- Aimed Shot, for example, won’t break camo until it actually fires. Likewise for Cobra and Steady Shots.
- Hearthstones and Dismiss Pet break Camo almost immediately.
- Eagle Eye, since it is channeled, breaks camo upon instigation.
- Dropping traps doesn’t break Camo, nor do the activations of non-damage traps, but as of 4.0.6 a trap activation that does damage will break Camo.
This list probably isn’t comprehensive because there are likely things I forgot to check, but it provides a good sense of what Camouflage allows. Unfortunately, just about any action by or upon a hunter that isn’t on this list will break Camouflage. Even some of the simplest things not on this list, like fall damage and Feign Death, will break Camo.
With the the properties of Camouflage laid out, we can turn now to pve tactics that make use of it. The simplest is, of course, avoiding fights. Camouflage is valuable for getting to quest objectives unnoticed, for dodging pats, and for taking a breather in an otherwise dangerous place. Yet, even when it comes to this simple use of Camo you can find some nuance. For example, since you can trap while in Camo, you can Freezing Trap a target that would otherwise see you, run past it (even through it) and then FD in a safe place and have the mob be effectively none the wiser. Feigning will break both the trap and Camo, so it really does have to be a safe place.
A related tactic is using Camo to avoid a fight until you’re ready. I see hunters employing this often enough in dungeons when getting ready for a pull. They use Camo to sneak around a trash pack to get a good line on their target and then open with a trap. Likewise, Camo can help with getting into position before a boss fight or with simply being in a safer position before killing some quest mob.
A third tactic is that of using Camo’s negation of ranged attacks to reposition mobs. If a hunter pulls while staying in Camo, mobs will seek to melee her even if they’re casters because their ranged attacks won’t work. In this way Camouflage can be more powerful and versatile than silences or corners when it comes to the positioning of even whole packs of mobs. Key, of course, is the rest of the group knowing what is going on. Also key is using an Ice or Freezing trap to pull because now even damaging traps break Camo.
Unfortunately, this list of tactics is inevitably a little short because Camouflage is only usable outside of combat. If you have any additional tips or unanswered questions, please leave them in a comment below.
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