How To: Howl of the Unnerving
Howl of the Unnerving has been around for a long time, but to be blunt it’s been pretty crap for most of that time. It placed a pretty pathetic +2 dread debuff on 4 nearby freeps and required the warg to be rooted in place whilst doing so. In a world of +5 hope token that was definitely weak sauce. However, Howl of the Unnerving got a pretty serious revamp with Rise of Isengard so let’s take a look at what this skill does now …
What Is Howl of the Unnerving?
It’s an OE debuff skill that places a -600 b/p/e debuff on 4 nearby freeps (range is 10m) as well as having a 25% chance to place a 5 sec fear on each of them. It’s usable whilst moving and crucially it can be used from stealth without breaking stealth!
To use Howl of the Unnerving you either need to be rank 9 or buy it from the store. It’s actually a trait, not an active skill, but when the trait is slotted it grants you access to the skill.
Is It Effective?
That’s a really good question and also one that’s fairly easy to answer: yes. There are two components to the skill, the b/p/e debuff and the fear, so let’s look at each one in turn.
Now -600 might not sound like a huge amount, but it equates to an approximately -2% to each of those ratings. That’s not a bad debuff, especially as it affects up to 4 targets. It gets better though because Howl of the Unnerving stacks between several wargs e.g. 3 wargs each use Howl of the Unnerving on a target and that target now has -1800 to his b/p/e ratings!
It’s a useful debuff in 1vs1 fights, especially against classes that typically have high Agility ratings like Burglars and Hunters so that they will parry and evade a little less. It’s also great in group or raid settings too though because it can be used on 4 targets and helps increase the group’s/raid’s damage output a bit.
The fear is both the strongest and weakest aspect of this skill. It’s strength comes from the fact that it gives us access to a fear at last. This is a pretty big thing for wargs because it’s one form of cc that can’t be blocked by anti-stun and which also really hampers a target by greying out all their skills for a few seconds.
Now unfortunately it’s a pretty weak fear because not only does it only last for 5 sec it only has a 25% chance to actually work. That’s pretty poor in my opinion because of the very short duration of the effect. This isn’t full on crowd control, it’s a 5 sec fear that will be disruptive at best so a 50% chance would be fairer in my opinion.
Even so it is still useful. In a 1vs1 situation it can disrupt a freep and buy you a few seconds and in a group/raid situation it has the potential to spread a bit of chaos in the freep lines as it can affect up to 4 targets.
How Do I Use It?
There are two main situations where you will want to use Howl of the Unnerving; solo and when in a group/raid.
When fighting a freep 1vs1 you can use Howl of the Unnerving in two ways, at the start of the fight and then in the middle. Since the skill doesn’t break stealth it can make for a nice opening move ahead of Sudden Pounce. Of course suing it like this gives the game away that you are near, but assuming you attack afterwards that shouldn’t be a problem.
I would recommend using Howl of the Unnerving every time it is off cooldown during a 1vs1 fight. The potential to fear your target is the real killer here as it can disrupt their rotation and hopefully cause a bit of panic as well.
The key here is stacking. If you are in a pack this is pretty easy 9assuming the other wargs also have Howl of the Unnerving), but in a raid there may not be too many other wargs around. Stacking the debuff from Howl of the Unnerving will obviously mean that the target(s) will be taking more damage as they block, parry and evade fewer attacks. However, multiple uses by multiple wargs also increases the chance that the target9s) will be feared too.
In a raid setting this can prove a really effective disruption tool. Because the skill is usable whilst moving wargs can strafe through the back of the freep raid using Howl of the Unnerving and hopefully fear a few freeps. Since the freep healers tend to hang around at the back this can prove very helpful in reducing the freeps healing output, especially since our Rabid Bite power drain has been nerfed.
In a pack facing a group of freeps it can again prove highly useful for its disruptive capabilities. The more wargs that use it the higher the debuff stacks and the more chance there is of fearing the freeps. Wargs can often be at a disadvantage when facing a group of freeps on their because our skill set is pretty limited, but being able to fear a few of them helps to address that imbalance and keep a couple of them out of the fight, even if only for a few seconds.
Howl of the Unnerving does have its drawbacks, as you might expect. Chief amongst these is that it requires a trait slot to use. There isn’t anything you can do about this, you simply have to decide which other trait you can do without in order to slot Howl of the Unnerving.
Another issue is that the skill has an animation that plays out when it’s being used. It’s not an overly long animation, but it does disrupt your rotation a little. However, like Shadow Howler, the animation can be broken by using Eye Rake, which is an ‘immediate’ skill.
Speaking of Shadow Howler I would offer the same advice I gave when discussing that skill: don’t rely on this skill as a sure fire thing. The fear only has a 25% chance of working and it only lasts 5 sec when it does work. You’re not going to be keeping a freep locked down and out of a fight with this skill so don’t view it as such.