Dumbing Down Marksmanship

Today's Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch-notes were updated after-the-fact to sneak in some substantial Marksmanship changes. While I wouldn't call changes to the amount of damage a shot does a "nerf" because it will all be balanced with other classes and specs, I am completely comfortable calling some of these changes nerfs, as they change the nature of the ability, making them less valuable.  Perhaps not a nerf in the sense that the class will be worse off overall on the damage meters; but a nerf to the abilities, and the style of play we're accustomed to.   Perhaps, in the end, these changes will be for the best, but we won't be able to know that until WoD comes out.  Until then, here is my take on the changes:

Chim Shot
  • Chimera Shot has been nerfed to no longer heal the hunter for 5% of total health.
Removing the Heal from Chim Shot isn't a huge issue.  In PvE a 5% heal every 9 seconds is rarely a lifesaver.  In PvP, it was a nice heal, though really it's the reduced relative damage done by Aimed Shot along with losing Silencing Shot that will most hurt MM PvP. Hopefully MM PvP'ers will be able to snipe enough killing blows in battlegrounds to make up a little of this lost heal, but in arenas, and in the majority of BGs that mechanic won't be part of the gameplay.

It's important to remember we'll still get a small heal from Enhanced Camo every minute, which is only 2% less healing per minute, and is available as a more bursty heal.  

Master Marks
While it may seam insubstantial, for Marks PvP this is a major change.  An instant cast Aimed Shot can mean the difference between a killing blow and seeing your opponent healed back to full health.   The switch from Arcane to exclusively Aimed Shot is going to make the loss of Master Marksman even harder.

Conc Barrage
This is one I definitely would not call a nerf.  They've had CC on the chopping block for WoD, so the loss of the daze effect on Chim Shot and Multi-Shot doesn't come as a surprise at all, and is only fair with the CC that other classes are losing.

Careful Aim
  • Careful Aim has been nerfed from 75% increased Crit chance to 60% increased Crit chance
I imagine the point of this one is to keep it relevant as we get further into the expansion and our crit rating gets higher.  That's understandable to some extent, but it will make Marks less appealing at the beginning for the first tier.  Careful Aim was the mechanic that had most top-end hunters excited about getting to play MM early in Warlords of Draenor.  A 60% buff is still substantial,  and will balance out the added duration of Careful Aim since it's now active during Rapid Fire as well,  but it means we'll be more RNG dependent, and our openers won't have guaranteed 30-focus Aimed Shots.

It could be that the devs plan for the Marksmanship Attunement bonus to make up for this, but we'll have to wait and see what our crit levels are like.

Steady Focus
This is another that I'll be sad to see go.  I would assume they'll change the cast times on Aimed Shot to compensate for it (hopefully, at least), or perhaps they were hoping to make sure MM hunters really needed haste, but this was an interesting ability and had great flavor for Marksmanship.  I recognize that it would take some added effort by the Devs to make this work with Focusing Shot, but I to me, this is too fun of an ability to lose because of that.

My real problem with this change, is it feels like it's part of a continued trend of dumbing down the game. Raising MM's focus to 120 was already lowering the skill cap for Steady Focus, in that it makes it easier not to focus cap while hitting two Steady Shots in a row; taking it out altogether is just disappointing.

Piercing Shots
This is one of two significant nerfs to the benefit of Marksmanship Crit.  This was the primary mechanic that made crit so valuable for MM hunters, that it wasn't simply doubling the damage of these shots, but was adding a 30% bleed as well.  And the bleed was a substantial part of what made MM hunters unique from SV and BM.   I really don't know what they were thinking with this one, but if I had to guess, I would think they perhaps thought crit was becoming too valuable with the extra crit benefits from the Draenor Perk Enhanced Aimed Shot.

Speaking of Draenor Perks,  I didn't see if they listed what the new perk would be to replace Enhanced Piercing Shots.  That perk would have gone a long way to bringing MM's AoE damage in line with SV's and BM's.  Assuming this change sticks, I'll be looking forward to seeing what new perk MM will get.

"He just does that to show he could've snuffed me"
A clever way to get people on board with changes to the game, is to take away more than is intended; then the devs can give us back something, placating us, and still they've removed what they really wanted to remove in the first place.  I certainly don't actually know that this is a strategy Blizzard uses, but it feels like that sometimes: take away a handful of abilities with the first alpha build, then give us back Distracting Shot and Rapid Fire, then all of the sudden we've forgotten the other losses.

My hope is that this is what they're doing here.  Take away a lot of MM's flavor, then give us back a couple, so we'll forget the ones we lost.   As they keep reminding us: this is just the alpha, and none of the changes are final.   Even in these patch notes, they put in a comment that they'd be adding something to ensure that Crit remained the most valuable stat for MM.  Hopefully that will be something to keep MM a fun, exciting spec.


  1. I popped over to read my blog list before even going over to MMO-C and in a way I am glad. Reading your post was better than reading a list like that on MMO-C and raging.

    Seriously WTF?

    I was so looking forward to being able to play marks again for the first time since wrath. It had always been my favorite spec and now it just feels so lackluster. Even if they balance it, even if MM still works out the be the spec of choice for raiders. They just took all the life out of the spec.

    The chim 5% heal was a nice little bonus in PvE, it helped the healer some and with the way we know healers always get screwed at the beginning of an expansion they will need all the help they can get. I called it a nice little bonus, no, that 5% heal was HUGE. Even more so n PvP.

    The removal of master marksmen leaves me perplexed. It will come back, trust me on this one. Blizzard design philosophy for all damage dealing classes is reactive play. With no procs, which MM would have none now, there is no reactive play. I can make a macro and do my 100% maximum DPS rotation with one button now without having to ever react to anything. This will never happen, trust me. If not this coming back, something that procs and changes the rotation will. They will not let a spec go live that can be put in a one button macro for 100% DPS.

    Concussive barrage should not be removed. I know they are trimming the PvP CC bloat, but this is not CC. It is a slow and it is weaker than slows other classes have by a long shot. If they are leaving other classes with spammable abilities that not only slow but stop movement, this is just a case of "we hate hunters" going on to remove it from us and not others.

    Careful aim, believe it or not, I have absolutely no problem with this as weird as it might sound. With it being tied to rapid fire now it just seemed too powerful the way it is. The main difference is we will now need to wait until the second or maybe third tier before crit capping for CA time instead of getting their in the first tier.

    The post was too long so I removed the bit about steady focus for a second post.

    Piercing shots, and the related perk, just make no sense. I do not see what was wrong about a physical bleed effect. This might be removed for balancing, but if it is there is one side effect that might seem nice. Our shots can be stronger, so we would feel like we were stronger, because they would not have to keep them down knowing they were leaving bleeds behind. But with no bleed, and no buff to the shots, this is a huge nerf. A very huge nerf.

    Today is a say day for hunter.

    Lets all take a moment and bow our heads for the death of the marksmen spec.

  2. Steady focus is the one that made me want to respond WTF. This is the heart of the MM rotation, this is what sets the good marksmen away from the bad ones. Hunters are lucky enough that they can do okay even if they mess up priority a little as long as they are always casting something. But that was not as true for marks. You needed to keep steady focus going, and that was the skill of the spec. Actually I loved the spec for the brief time I could use in in cataclysm because of the short span steady focus lasted for and the tightness you needed to perform at to get maximum DPS while keeping it up. As I explained to someone in guild once about it when I called MM one of the hardest specs in the game and he said hunters were not hard. I said, you have half a second leeway, which mean any lag, any indecision, and you lose steady focus and your DPS goes in the tank. Half a second every 7 seconds and you can screw it all up. Name one other spec that requires you to work at that rate of precision to do it well. Sure it was made a lot easier in mists, but it was still the entire draw of the spec. You actually needed to do something. There were actual decisions that needed to be made. Steady focus was a skill ability. Rarely do I agree when people say dumbing down. Even when they raised to to 20 seconds I did not call it dumbing down, I just said they are making it easier. This time, no doubt, they are dumbing it down. Removing one of the things I loved most about MM. Sad day, sad day indeed.

  3. It does feel a lot like watching them yank the guts out of the MM spec honestly. Those are literally the first three things most people think of when they think of the spec: Steady Focus, Bleeds for giant crits and instant aimed shots.

    Until this point I was VERY satisfied with the changes hunters were going into WoD with, but this...this is disconcerting. You don't just smash all the gears in a complex clock and leave it that way (or replace it with a simple pendulum).

    1. Yeah, I've actually been surprisingly ok with most of the big changes they made so far, too. These were much harder for me to grasp though.