Friday, January 28, 2011

The art of the Empty Trap


Today, I'd like to talk about something that I feel that modern hunters have lost in their gameplay. Any Vanilla WoW player will tell you about the good old days of traps, where you had to feign death to leave combat in order to even place them. A hunter FD trapping something was a thing of beauty, because typically they had about .5 seconds before they re-entered combat from their moron pet attacking someone to get the trap off.

Then again, back in those days, there were no DRs and PVP durations were way longer than current CCs, so you could trap someone and they would stay that way, for a long, long time. Of course, poly and fear were always way stronger back, and as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

For some reason, Blizzard decided that they enjoyed the pattern of Hunters having to use two cooldowns in order for trap to be a reliable CC, and gave hunters Scatter Shot, then removed the restriction on combat traps. But, Hunters still didn't have a reliable method of actually getting their traps to people, so they would have to scatter, then walk over and manually place the trap at the feet of the target in order to successfully trap someone.

The game evolved from that point, giving us Freezing Arrow, and now, the drastically inferior Trap Launcher, the art of placing traps has been lost on modern Hunters, and the time to revive it is now. Sit well, and listen, grasshopper, I will show you the way.

Hunters becoming habitual trap launchers is not really a bad thing. But not for the reasons you may suspect. Since the days of the manual trap placement date back to The Burning Crusade, its been about two and a half years since people would need to be on the lookout for that tell-tale kneeling animation that gives away a trap drop. This is fantastic for anyone who is looking to score what I call the "empty trap", or a trap that is laid and successfully traps a player without the use of Scatter Shot or Trap Launcher.

Consider this: what is the most noticable thing about a trap being deployed using Trap Launcher? Random resists aside, its the large frost nova-looking animation that occurs where the trap lands. Spotting this animation has become second nature to any serious Arena player, and why not? Its very obvious and easy to spot, and even makes a sound to make sure that they are absolutely aware that a trap was just thrown at that location. This is why the empty trap is so powerful: the only indication that one has been laid is the kneeling animation that your character makes, and people have been trained to look for a different indication that a trap has been deployed.
You're not fooling anyone.
Ok, so by now, I've probably convinced you that an empty trap is potentially useful in the Arena. And you may be thinking to yourself "Ok, I understand. You just lay a trap and they walk into it. How hard can it be?"

Actually, its not really that hard. Like I said, they almost always aren't looking for it. But, I'll give you some pointers. (and I'll put a video up later when I have some footage demonstrating)

So you want an empty trap. Remember the following:
1. Traps do not drop at your feet. They actually drop about 1-3 yards in front of you. It may be easier to visualize empty traps as traps that are instantly launched directly in front of you.
About this far, actually.
2. Depending on your comp, empty traps may not be possible! Sometimes, it may be better to use your ice trap cooldowns on freezing traps.
3. Be mindful of your diminishing returns! Remember that it takes 15 seconds to clear DR on a target, especially if they don't hit the trap right away! It could be possible to accidentally refresh the DR, and this could lead to problems.
4. Its almost never a good idea to try to empty trap a target that is moving. Be patient.
5. Remember that enemy players, especially healers, are aware that you could be trying to scatter/trap them! Use this to your advantage. If a healer is trying to LOS you, drop a trap on one side of the pillar, then chase them around until they hit it. Be creative!

Here are some situations that you could see crop up, and how to work empty traps into them.

Situation One: You are being focused.

Welcome to being a Hunter. Against our comp, Enhance/Holy paladin/Hunter, I'm almost invariably the person being trained by the enemy team. Your movement speed is nearly always being limited, and you're trying to kite and put out damage, and your thoughts are going a thousand miles per second. This is not always your best opportunity to score an empty trap. Or so it seems!

Firstly, if you're in a giant cluster-fuck of people, you can still score an empty trap, and its actually even LESS likely that they will notice you kneeling. Just keep in mind the distance in front of you that a trap is laid, and you can pretty accurately drop a trap at precisely your target's feet. Its all a matter of practice.

Remember that trapping a healer is not the only thing you can trap. It can also be effective to score traps on your off target, and most trapped pets will go the entire trap duration without being dispelled. This can be very handy against DKs and other Hunters, as their pets can sometimes do decent damage, especially when the DK's ghoul is transformed. If you are survival, you will usually get LnL procs off traps, so a frost trap cooldown is almost never wasted, unless you don't use it! (unless LnL doesn't proc. 100% my ass.)

Also remember that traps can be used as a really crappy interrupt. If you are attacking a mage, the healer is 100 miles away, you're being focused, and theres a warlock that your team is not attacking standing nearby freecasting, just walk up and trap him. He may get dispelled fairly quickly, but remember that it takes GCDs to dispel, and their healer wont have time to do it if you're destroying the mage. At the very least, you can get LnL from it, and it stopped his casting for a few moments.

Situation Two: You are allowed to freecast, or are being CCed.

This is prime time for empty traps. If possible, work to position yourself near the enemy healer as much as possible, to desensitize them to your presence. If you are focusing the healer, keep an eye on their casts, especially if they are moving around a lot. Wait for them to stop and start casting a heal, then walk over and place the trap at their feet. Even at very high ratings, I've successfully scored many empty traps on healers who just didn't see it coming, and most players are not even looking for it.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember about empty traps is to remember that it is an option when scatter is down. In my opinion, its always best to scatter trap a healer first. But when scatter is down and you need CC right now, most healers wont see it coming.

Happy hunting.


  1. very interesting read. i used to play a hunter as well

  2. good info brah

  3. I remember hunter with traps being pretty annoying back in vanilla days. Didn't know that it lost on popularity though.

  4. I used to play hunter, now a Warrior.

  5. I have some pleasant memories as a hunter, but I played a mage and a druid alot more. Heh.

  6. Not a big gamer, but following.

  7. Hallelujah.. great blog, interesting topics, well written and great info. Thanks very much, please keep the articles coming. Top level arena hunters are a rare breed atm and sites like this coming from one of them are an inspiration, at least to me, a hunter just starting first season of arena.

  8. I think if you make a jump while putting the trap, the kneeling animation is off. Makes it harder to position it of course ..