Know Your Enemy – Hunters

While not as troublesome as frost mages or resto druids, hunters have more than enough tricks up their sleeves to make things pretty hard for you. Without your cooldowns, rogue […]

While not as troublesome as frost mages or resto druids, hunters have more than enough tricks up their sleeves to make things pretty hard for you. Without your cooldowns, rogue vs hunter is not only virtually impossible to win, it’s also mostly impossible to escape from. A hunter has a lot of defensive abilities on short cooldowns so you may need assistance from your team mates to be able to actually stay within melee range.

The following is a breakdown of the more troublesome hunter abilities.


deterrence Deterrence

While at first glance deterrence might appear to give a hunter 100% immunity to damage, they are still vulnerable to a couple of attacks.
Firstly, it is impossible to parry a rogue’s opening moves. Ambush, cheap-shot and garrote will all hit through deterrence, so if the hunter uses it at the very last second, there’s still a chance of a kill. It’s usually best to open with a cheap-shot since a stunned hunter is unable to parry your attacks, regardless of the deterrence buff. Unfortunately, good hunters will cast flare when they use deterrence, stopping you from restealthing. If this happens, you can use backstab to continue attacking, since its positional requirements seem to over-ride the chance of being parried. The other attacks that the hunter is vulnerable to are an engineer’s Hand Mounted Pyro Rocket and your shivs.

disengage Disengage

Unless the hunter is BM spec, the cooldown on disengage can be as low as 16seconds with talents and a glyph. It’s common for a hunter to jump just before they cast it, so try and use this early warning to land a gouge just before they disengage. It may break early due to a dot, but every second that you can slow a hunter down will help in the long run.

Freezing Trap Freezing Trap

This is the trap that turns you into an iceblock. Cloak of Shadows can protect you from this, but be careful using it since it will not stop you from triggering the graphically identical Frost Trap.

Frost Trap Frost Trap

Personally, I absolutely hate being kited. As far as raging goes, I’m always a lot calmer when I’m CC’d than when I’m walking through a Frost Trap at a fraction of my normal speed. There’s not much you can do about this snare, cloak won’t affect it and the aura lasts for 30seconds (enough time for it to come off cooldown again). Grin and bear it, though try to take the fight away from the aura if possible.

Freezing Arrow Freezing Arrow

A ranged version of freezing trap which shares the same cooldown as the hunters other frost traps. In arenas this will often be used immediately after a scatter-shot on your healer. Ideally when my healer is hit by scatter-shot, I try and move ontop of where the trap lands so I get to eat the freezing trap instead – most of the time it either breaks cause I’m dotted/autoshot. Easier said than done, especially when you’re on the other side of the map, so try and convince your healer to stay close to you.

Snake Trap Snake Trap

In arenas, this trap can be a blessing as well as a curse. If the snakes spawn and switch to your partner, the deadly poison that they inflict can function as a cc-breaker (very useful for negating wyvern sting, freezing traps and scatter shots) and will give mana back to shamans through their water shield ability. The snakes have poisons similar in ability to your crippling, deadly and mind-numbing poisons.

Feign Death Feign Death

This ability is easily the biggest cause of lost combo-points I’ve encountered. If activated during a snake trap, or when their pet is attacking you, you’ll probably lose your target and start mutilating the wrong enemy. The fastest way to recover from this is to either bind your tab key to “target nearest enemy player”, or rely entirely on target macros (arenas only).

Flare Flare

Flare is another spell that is available for use the second it wears off. CloS will not protect you from losing stealth – getting a cheapshot through a flare when the hunter is standing in the aura’s middle is extremely risky (though possible). I might be mistaken, but flare doesn’t seem to work on ticks/pulses. If you need to vanish after being caught, watch the flare debuff icon – it can stay up a few seconds longer than you’re in the flared area.

Scatter Shot Scatter Shot (Survival, Marksmanship)

While this is in the Survival tree, it is also taken by Marksmanship hunters (BM hunters skip it and take Aimed Shot instead). There’s nothing you can really do about being scatter shotted, other than hope there are dots ticking on you. Take care if you’re hit by this on the edge of a bridge/platform, you’ll come out of the scatter-shot facing a random direction.

Wyvern Sting Wyvern Sting (Survival)

A 10 second CC on the same diminishing returns as freezing trap. Both WotF and Stoneform racials will remove this sting if available.

Readiness Readiness (Marksmanship)

Preparation for hunters, well, Marksmanship hunters. Annoyingly this resets the cooldowns on both Disengage and Deterrence, and there’s no Hypothermia-type debuff to stop hunters using them straight away.

Hunter's Mark Hunter’s Mark

I always like to activate stealth just after the gates open, but the one potential downside to this is that a hunter may be able to drop their Hunter’s Mark onto you before you can stealth. You can cloak the mark off (get out of line of sight to avoid the 10% chance the hunter will reapply it), vanish it (terrible waste of a cooldown) or have it dispelled by a priest, paladin or fellhunter. The last time I can remember being caught out by this was on Nagrand Arena – luckily the hunter sent his pet in to attack me so we nuked it behind a pillar before he could pull it out of combat…

Concussive Shot Concussive Shot

Yet another snare, this time undispellable (with the exception of vanish or a paladin’s Hand of Freedom spell).

Wing Clip Wing Clip

Another 60% snare, though luckily it does not stack with the freezing trap debuff.

Track Hidden Track Hidden

Hunters do have a slightly higher stealth-detection level than other classes (for a breakdown of stealth/detection levels, read this post). Be extra careful when moving around hunters when in stealth and stay behind them whenever you can.


Kill Shot Kill Shot

Evil 10k+ crits at the worst possible time. With a 30k health pool, you’re in danger of Kill Shots at the 6k hp mark. If you have a glyphed Cloak of Shadow, you can perhaps survive the hit long enough to LoS the hunter or receive a heal. Perhaps.

Aimed Shot Aimed Shot

An undispellable healing debuff. You can try and time your evasions so that they are activated just before aimed shot runs out, but there’s only a 25% chance the next aimed shot will miss.

Steady Shot Steady Shot

A hard hitting shot with a short cast bar. Try not to embarrass yourself by kicking it (especially if using a kick-announcing addon… whoops) as it is uninterruptable. It is however a good time to stun/gouge/disarm, since the hunter is unable to dodge or parry any attacks while the cast bar is ticking away.

The Beast Within The Beast Within (Beast Mastery)

Ten seconds of CC immunity on a 1min40 CD. The only way of cutting down their damage is through a disarm. Positioning is vital so make sure you either get behind them before you try, or catch them in a steady shot if they start casting one. While it would be funny if Anesthetic poison dispelled Bestial Wrath/Beast Within, it doesn’t.


Web Web, Venom Web Spray and Pin Pin

Two ranged snares and one melee snare, on 40-second cooldowns (or 27-second cooldowns for BM hunters). These count as magic effects and can be dispelled or cloaked if needed.

Intimidation Intimidation (Beast Mastery)

Limited to only BM hunters (thank god), on a one minute cooldown.

Additional Tactics for Rogue vs Hunter

Rogue vs Hunter is one of those encounters where it’s worth using double wound-poison. You’ll struggle to keep crippling poison on your target otherwise and the chances of keeping deadly poison ticking on a hunter is pretty low. Also, using double-wound will let you gouge when needed. Keeping crippling applied is a necessity – if it does drop off you can use Deadly Throw as a temporary replacement, though it’s not a great alternative since the movement reduction of Deadly Throw is less than that from Wing Clip/Frost Trap. In a BG/duel situation, do whatever you can to stay in range of the hunter, up to and including the use of blind as a gap-closer.

Hopefully some of that information will be of use – there’s no magic pve-style rotation to ensure a kill on a hunter, it’s more a case of perseverence and keeping your fingers crossed. Try not to get too frustrated when being kited (damn I need to practice that) and if you’re in an arena, try and look at the situation as a whole before deciding it’s pointless to chase the hunter and making a switch to another player. It may look and feel that you’re having no impact, but by sticking on the hunter you are limiting his damage and hopefully letting your partner/s work miracles 😉


I have an 80 hunter but haven’t tried to play it seriously in arenas so I’m only really aware of one side of the fight – if I’ve made any glaring mistakes please let me know!

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.