This episode was sponsored by Audible. *overwatch music plays* I’ve made it pretty clear that I see house cats and domestic dogs as top tier, but although I’ve made videos already on the non-domestic felines, I haven’t done the same for canines yet. Canines are some of the most successful builds ever, despite being relatively new to the competitive scene. They debuted in the oligo scene expansion, but they really hit their stride in the Miocene because the devs nerfed the dominant herbivore factions that had previously been untouchable. Canines had great matchups against the new, less tanky herbivores like deer, cows and horses, and so canines were able to expand from North America and become a part of the meta on every single server other than Antarctica, but enough about the patch notes, let’s get back to present-day. All canines may seem similar, and they are, but there are some awesome unique attributes and abilities that are worth discussing, as well as some misconceptions worth dispelling, so without further ado, let’s get into it, so one of the key components to a successful canine build is teamplay. Hunting in packs and having a defined social structure turns what normally would be a pretty average build into a truly dominant one, and so the dogs that are the lowest on the tier list are of course gonna be the ones that don’t do this, or do this poorly. At the bottom of the tiers we have the maned wolf. Now it’s hard to look at this build and not think: “Wow, that’s really cool.” The maned wolf is the tallest canine in the current expansion, Which gives it a bonus against stealth because it can see over tall grass. It’s also the only one with a mane, a rare attribute that’s usually only seen on lions and horses, and while manes do provide some protection against critical hits, it doesn’t do much else. The maned wolf is also the biggest outlier of the dog faction in that it has a completely solitary playstyle. As a result it doesn’t have near the same PvP potential that the more social dogs do. Despite being the tallest of canines, it has to settle for hunting small targets. Since those aren’t a very good source of XP, it actually has to make up for it by eating a lot of plants and fruit. It’s good that it’s omnivorous, as being able to function as a scavenger is great, but there’s no ignoring that this build could have a much higher potential if it utilised team strats. One step up on this list and we have the coyote, or for the non-American players, the jackal. A build that honestly just needs a slight buff in order to be really strong, but at the moment isn’t in the greatest spot in the meta. Even with solid team plays coyotes just don’t do enough damage to score eliminations on targets that aren’t already super weak. For example in this clip here we can see a team of coyotes diving on this low-level deer player, but they’re actually unable to get the pick before the rest of the deer team rallies and chases them off. If coyotes were to spec into some longer, more dagger-like teeth, I could see them being better suited for this, but for now they just aren’t threatening enough. They tend to have equal or possibly favorable matchups against lynx and bobcat players, but lose hard against cougars, so I think this puts them at the high end of D tier definitively. One step higher and we’ve got the fox. Now I know most of us are used to seeing fox at the top of most tier lists, but in outside they are a lot more balanced. They have extremely similar base stats to coyotes, but also have a few unique abilities of their own. They’ve got extremely strong perception abilities that allow them to deal with stealth strategies employed by their targets, and their precision pounce attack is extremely useful for picking off targets they discover hiding under the snow. Some foxes have also specced into climbing abilities which is really useful for getting out of reach of the more powerful players. While their higher agility can help them avoid land predators, their smaller size does make them a target for raptors, so it’s a bit of a trade-off. Coyotes and foxes both utilize team play, but in a very disorganized fashion. Unlike the higher tier builds, they don’t have an established pecking order or coordinated strategies. They sort of just band together and use numbers to their advantage, sort of like social spiders, which I cover in my spider video. Next up we’ve got the wolf. The wolf is one of the cornerstones of the forest meta and pioneered the technique that most pack hunting builds use today. The wolf hunting technique has been dissected and analyzed to an incredible degree, so here’s a rundown of the strat, plus a few tips on how to counter it. The basic wolf strat is a five step plan that utilizes every ability in the wolf’s arsenal, and it goes like this. Step one is locating the target: Wolf players will use perception abilities like smell, sound and footprint tracking to locate a potential bounty. What’s found, they gather the pack and move on to step two. In step two all wolves go into stealth mode and attempt to get as close as possible to the target without alerting it. Once the target detects them, they move on to step three. Step three is the defining moment in the hunt, and the success depends on what the target does here. Once the target detects the wolves, it can either charge, stand or flee. The wolves will only proceed to step four once the target flees. If the target chooses to stand its ground, the wolves must use intimidation abilities like growling and barking in order to reduce the target’s resolve. If the intimidation succeeds and the target flees, step four is triggered. Step four pits the mobility stat against the mobility stat of the wolves. This step is also when the wolves will attempt to isolate the target player from their group if they’re in one. If the wolves managed to catch up to the target, the final step begins. Step five is the actual attack. Wolves rely on their bite move to inflict damage, and the size of their target determines where they’ll try to land the hit. Against midweights, wolves will go for a crit by attacking the throat. If this succeeds, it should result in a one-shot kill. Against heavies, they actually won’t go for a crit at all, because heavies can one-shot wolves if they aren’t careful. Going for a crit puts them in the range of an attack, so usually wolves will opt to attack the hindquarters since it’s safer. Since they can’t crit by attacking the hindquarters, it generally takes three successful bites in order to deal enough damage to inflict the bleed status effect. This drains the target stamina and health over time, eventually leading to a game over for them. It’s awesome that Wolf mains have made their strategy guide available to new players, but doing so also allows players to learn the matchup and develop counter play options. Here are some of the best ways to combat the five step wolf strat. The first is to spec into some high level stealth abilities. Wolves actually have a relatively weak sense of smell, so camouflage is actually really useful against them. A good stealth player will be able to stop the hunt at step one. If stealth doesn’t work with your build, you can stop the hunt at step two by detecting them during their stealth phase. Strong perception abilities will easily cause the wolf’s mediocre stealth to fail against you. For example, wolves would pretty much never be able to successfully get within a dangerous range against a giraffe, but if they do manage to sneak up on you, the most important counter play option is to stand your ground. Wolves will only move to their attack phase if their target opts to flee. A player who opts to defend drastically increases their chances of success, since the wolf’s only option at that point is to use its rather weak intimidation abilities. If wolves had access to roar, like lions and tigers do, they’d be really tough to deal with, but since they don’t, it’s pretty easy to resist the intimidation attempts, especially in a group. In fact a heavy player can end the encounter pretty quickly by using their own intimidation abilities, like charge. So even though wolves do have a pretty solid offensive strategy, players with good fundamentals and matchup experience will be able to thwart their plans most of the time, and so wolves, much like birds of prey, function as the gatekeepers to the higher tier, and are placed solidly in A tier. The highest-ranked canine build, other than domestic dogs of course, which I’ve already covered in another video, is the African painted hound. This build follows a very similar strategy to the wolf, but has stats and abilities much better suited for it. It’s higher stealth allows it to get closer before being detected, and it’s higher speed reduces the chance that its target outruns it. Their sharper teeth deal more damage, and they’re highly sophisticated social structure is actually built around propping up the weaker members, rather than simply funneling the best loot to the highest ranking members. Considering that these players succeed in a meta that contains some of the most powerful builds in the game, it’s tough to deny that African painted hounds are top tier. If you’d like to learn more about how canines evolved to become some of the most successful builds of all time, I highly recommend the book “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)” by Lyudmila Trut and Lee Alan Dugatkin, which you can listen to on Audible, the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Audible is offering our listeners a free audiobook with a 30-day trial membership. Just go to audible.com/tierzoo and brow the unmatched selection of audio programs. Download a free title and start listening. It’s that easy. Go to audible.com/tierzoo or text TierZoo to 500-500 to get started today.