Cooldowns? Plural? Yes, hunters actually have a several options for reducing damage taken in raids, for ourselves and for others. Take a look at the descriptions of Intervene, Deterrence, Disengage and other abilities after the break.
Aspect of the Wild
I hate to say it, but, yes, this ability sometimes has its uses. I use it for soloing Vortex Pinnacle but it also has its uses in situations where your raid is about to take a spike of nature damage but you have no shammy, such as might easily happen on 10man Nef.
Cower does occasionally come in handy for our pets. I use it on Firelands trash and while extreme soloing. On bosses it is usually only helpful when the pet is somewhere it is not supposed to be, such as under a lava wave in The Obsidian Sanctum
Deterrence increases the miss and deflection chances of incoming attacks by 100%. This means that Deterrence will turn away Bloodthirst, Arcane Shot and Wrath but it will not prevent damage that has no `miss table,’ like magma damage. The spells and abilities that are affected are not always clear. For example, Deterrence works on orbs on Majordomo but not on shards on Baleroc.
Disengage is great for getting out of dangerous situations. There are a few things worth noting about the ability when it comes to damage, though. The first is that the game reads Disengage like a jump, and so if you use it to `jump’ out of fire, the game reads you as still being in the fire until you land. This means that you continue to take fire damage during your flight time even though your character is visibly out of the fire. If a simple sidestep gets you out of the fire faster, it is preferable to Disengage.
The other thing to note about damage and Disengage is that the ability can be used to reduce fall damage. Disengage causes the game to calculate fall damage taken from the point that Disengage was used, regardless of how far the hunter has already fallen. You could fall from miles in the air and take no damage if you Disengage close to the ground (providing that you manage to shoot a bird or something on the way down so that you are in combat at the right time).
Feign Death cancels many casts in addition to dropping agro, making it great for avoiding damage. Unfortunately, feigns in raids often result in burden-shifting, where some add or mechanic’s attention may get put onto another player instead disappearing upon the feign. In these situations it is often better to not feign if it means potentially keeping the attacks or mechanics off of a healer.
Glyphed Raptor Strikes
With the glyph, Raptor Strike will apply a five-second buff reducing the hunter’s damage taken by 20%. Since Raptor Strike has a six-second cooldown, this means that the hunter can have the buff up 83% of the time if it comes down to it. However, Raptor Strike is a melee ability and costs globals, leading to Raptor Strike’s use being a dps loss. Using it requires some cost-benefit analysis regarding which is more helpful to the raid: taking less damage or preserving your dps level. Glyphed Raptor Strikes are most useful on fights like Nefarian where the hunter can dps in melee range and use Raptor Strike before spikes of raid damage.
The Intervene ability will cause a tenacity pet to apply a buff to a friendly target that absorbs damage on the target until any of the following conditions are met:
- a direct-damage attack is taken by the target, at which time the Intervene effect ends and the attack is absorbed up to a value equal to 50% of the pet’s health
- the pet absorbs the equivalent of 50% of its health in indirect damage (the absorption could go beyond 50%, but I couldn’t find a good way to test it)
- the buff duration of ten seconds comes to an end
Intervene, then, works sort of like a priest bubble, absorbing a potentially huge amount of damage (85k+ with raid buffs and Last Stand). This, combined with its very short cooldown of 30 seconds (21 for BM), makes it a good tool for helping a tank take a large blow or helping another player (or yourself) survive burst AoE damage. Intervene won’t absorb all kinds of damage, though; for example, it won’t absorb fall or drowning damage. Intervene’s eight to twenty five yard range means that it is not always the best tool for quickly saving ranged (who may be 30+ yards away) or melee (who may be standing on top of the pet).
Note that Intervene’s absorb value is set by the pet’s max health. This means that Shell Shield, Cower, and the pet being at full health do not matter. Stam buffs, stam talents and Last Stand, however, do help because they increase the pet’s maximum health. Last Stand increases the absorb value by ~30% and can be macro’d with Intervene.
Of course, like some of our other abilities, Intervene has a price. To use it, we have to use a tenacity pet with suboptimal dps talents, and that means a dps loss. This can make using Intervene on some fights something of a tough call.
Roar of Sacrifice
I mention this ability only to say that it actually is not that helpful in PVE settings. NPC spells do not crit and tanks who are not idiots do not receive melee crits, making this ability largely a PVP cooldown.
In those rare situations where you have an attack whose damage needs to be split among a number of targets, activating a snake trap can help because each snake will usually take a share of the damage. This allegedly works on Majordomo for eating scythes but requires careful timing so that the snakes spawn in time but are still in front of the boss when the scythe hits.