WoD Beta: The Focus Talents

There are a new set of patch notes out for the beta, though all of the changes are things Celestalon told us already, via Twitter or the Forums. I had a big long post about Survival spreadsheets, that was going to be up this week, but with drastic changes to LnL, I figured I'd better wait until we get the new patch and start over.

I do, however, want to give more of my perspective on Steady Focus.  As most, I'm sure, have heard: we're losing Fervor, and gaining a new(ish) talent called "Steady Focus", which will give you 50% increased focus regen for 10 seconds, every time you cast two steadys/cobras, or a focusing shot.  Because of the language in the tooltip, unless I hear otherwise, I'll assume this only applies to formal "focus regen", and not to shots which return or generate focus, like Aimed Shot Crits, or Cobra/Steady Shots.

So how does it stack up?  First, let's compare it to what we just lost.  Fervor was an on-demand huge chunk of focus that didn't even take up a GCD, every 30 seconds.  Averaged out, that's the potential to give you 3.33 focus/sec, with the perk of being able to get 50 of that focus immediately, when needed.

Steady Focus, on the other hand, gives you 50% more focus regen.  If we had that with our current gear, in 5.4 BiS BM gear (which is the highest haste levels we'll see in an expansion), we regen about 5.7 focus/second. 50% more then will work out to a measly 2.85 focus/second.  So not only do we not get the any "on-demand" focus, we also get considerably less focus.  In a 7 minute fight (assuming 100% up-time on Steady Focus, and never delaying Fervor more than 2 or 3 seconds), that's a total of  202.9 focus lost.

That might not seem like a ton, but considering Fervor is on-demand focus, and that steady focus only seems as strong as it is because I was using last-tier-of-the-expansion BiS haste values.  As a new 100 in warlords, your focus regen will be closer to 4.5 focus/sec.  That means over the same 7 minute fight, fervor would have gotten you 454 more focus.

As you can see, this is obviously a huge loss.  But, fervor has been a pretty strong talent.  And TotH is receiving a significant nerf in WoD also.  For those who missed it in the last couple of posts, Thrill of the Hunt will now have a variable % chance to proc, based on the focus cost of the shot (Focus cost * .6 = % chance to proc).

Dire Beast seems to have cleared the first few rounds of tuning free of nerfs (or buffs, for that matter).  DB gives the hunter 40 - 50 focus every 30 seconds for lower geared/lower haste level hunters and up to 55 focus for 5.4 BiS BM hunters.  Taking an easily attainable haste level which returns 50 focus per cast, that works out to 1.667 focus/sec.  Dire Beast, as has been the case since it's introduction in MoP, can't be easily compared to talents like Fervor and TotH by looking simply at focus gen/return, because it also contains some extra damage, done by the dire beast, which is why it's designed to give you considerably less focus than a talent like Fervor (although if you're really looking to compare them, it's worth mentioning that fervor also comes with extra damage due to Wild Hunt).

We'll have a better sense of how the TotH nerf is going to actually affect gameplay once they put this build onto the beta (without more info on how changes will affect our rotation, I can't come up with average TotH procs/uses, to compare the value; it will most certainly be different for each spec, though), but for now, it's hard to image Steady Focus really providing more focus than TotH saves.  Though it may become a preferable talent because of the RNG punishment involved with TotH, Steady Focus without the Attack Speed modifier (which the current in-game iteration of steady focus contains), I don't see it being a very valuable talent.

WoD Beta: Celestalon on the Forums

On the Beta Forums, we got a fairly lengthy reply from Celestalon, announcing some upcoming talent changes. This doesn't really address much of what was being discussed in the forum thread, but it at least lets hunters know that a developer has been to that thread; so it's a start.

General Explanations, MM and SV:
"Now then... Yes, the Marksmanship and Survival rotations are simpler than they were before. The goal is to have a simpler baseline rotation, and have meaningful choices that allow you to layer more depth onto that in talents, if you choose. 
"Hunters have a ton of talents which grant rotational or short CD abilities, to support this design. However, they were lacking in rotational depth. The gameplay of most of them boiled down to 'use on cooldown'. No need to think about preparing for when you're going to use it, or how it interacts with your rotation, etc. So, we're going to make some tweaks to try to add some rotational depth to several of the talent choices."

"Barrage is being changed to make it more rotational, with Focus-pooling gameplay required to min/max its benefit. You'll want to pool 60 Focus in anticipation of it coming off cooldown.

"Barrage now has a 20sec CD (down from 30sec), costs 60 Focus (up from 30 Focus), and deals 100% additional damage."

Interesting.  As Esoth mentioned on twitter:
If the goal is to make sure it's not just "used on CD" then boosting it to a 60 focus cost will do the trick. Without actually trying the change (they aren't in the beta yet) I can't really say, but just guessing, it sounds like it will work a bit better with MM, since SV tends to be a little rough on focus (and has a 20 focus lower cap to begin with).  Also, Rapid Fire has always worked well with Barrage, speeding up that channel so much.

If there's some way to make it work with the focus, dropping the cd to 20 sec will definitely make it a much more worthwhile AoE option, especially for

A Murder Of Crows:
"Murder of Crows had a cooldown-shortening effect that hardly mattered in practice; either the fight would likely be over within 1min if used on a low-healh boss, or you'd likely waste most of the damage of the crows if used on a low-health add. Instead, we're changing that mechanic, so that it's primarily useful on those low-health adds. You'll want to time it well to finish off low health targets, while still being as Focus-efficient as possible.
"Murder of Crows has been changed. Its duration, cost, and cooldown have been reduced by 50%. It no longer has a shorter cooldown when used on low health targets. Instead, its cooldown is reset if the target dies."

Sounds good.  Makes it less of a major CD, so will be used in very different situations than Stampede.  As it was, the execute function on AMoC was only really used in very unique situations, like currently, Garrosh.

"The gameplay of Fervor and Dire Beast were extremely similar, so we opted to replace Fervor completely. It's rather late in the development process to be doing that, so went with something tried and true: Steady Focus. This iteration of Steady Focus purely increases Focus regeneration, and has a duration short enough to add depth." 
"Fervor has been replaced with Steady Focus: Using Cobra Shot or Steady Shot twice in a row, or using Focusing Shot, increases your Focus Regeneration by 50% for 10 sec."

This is quite the change. I liked fervor better than Dire Beast, so I'm not super excited to see it go, but Dire Beast does look cool, so there's that. Steady Focus without Ranged Attack Speed buff won't be as enticing for MM, but for SV, with the current state of SV, having a constant stream of extra focus will be great.

Regarding the choice between Fervor and DB, Celestalon later tweeted:

Lock and Load:
"Oh, completely forgot that another relevant change hasn't made it into one of your builds yet. Apologies. 
"Lock and Load is returning to the previous version of it, and Multistrikes will simply do more damage for Survival instead."

I didn't hate the MS LnL function as much as others did.  However, it didn't feel any different to me.  I mean, it didn't feel like we'd gained anything, it was just different for difference's sake. No word yet what this will do to our Stat Attunement.  

Others, however, are more excited to see the old system come back:

WoD Beta: Little More Tuning and The New TotH

Before I get into this, I had to head out of town unexpectedly, so I'm not going to be online a lot, and am going to be doing my spreadsheeting and writing from a laptop for a few days.  On that note, I didn't feel like retyping/linking the latest beta build hunter changes; so, if you haven't already, go read about them on Eyes of the Beast.

Now I can jump right into the good stuff:
I'm not yet sure how I feel about this.  On the one hand, when testing MM this morning and last night, occasionally there would be these super long streaks where I wouldn't get any TotH procs, for over a minute, at some points.  So it'll be nice to have a higher chance of them proc'ing when using Aimed Shot.  However, this will also mean you have a much lower chance of getting multiple procs in a row, since arcanes, multishots and aimed shots which are affected by TotH will therefor have a lower chance of procing it.

This does make it a fairly substantial nerf to TotH overall; since now our highest focus costing shot, Aimed Shot, is going to have the same percent chance to proc TotH as it does now on live, and everything else will have a smaller chance to proc TotH (other than Crows, which will give you a 36% chance to proc it once every 2 minutes, oh boy).  If you don't remember, the reason TotH became so popular in MoP was when they upped the focus cost of Arcane Shots, and then all the sudden you could proc TotH while TotH was already up, just spamming Arcane Shots.  This will be much, much rarer.

If they really think this is a good mechanic (which I think it could be) to give a little more protection from long dry spells, they could keep this in place, but either use a more reasonable multiplier, or put in a baseline proc chance, which it can't go lower then (15%?).

The other big nerf that I don't quite understand is serpent sting.  This doesn't hurt too much in single target, SV's AoE has been going downhill for about a year now, and this just stacks on the pain.  I have no idea why they thought it needed a 22% damage reduction.

WoD Beta: MM with the Aimed Shot Buff and TotH Nerf

I made my way over to Shattrath to play with the Dummies after the first round of number tuning last night. So here's my next impression of Marksmanship Huntering:

Rotation Feels:
I'm still struggling to get down this rotation.  Having only one instant with a 9 sec CD, and one possible talent instant with a 15 sec CD, there's not a lot of easy filler, which means you've really got to have your shots planned out ahead of time.  However, with the extra focus from crits on Aimed Shots, you can't totally plan ahead your shots; so it's not uncommon to have 4 seconds left until Chim Shot is off CD, and not be sure if you'll have enough focus to cast two Aimed Shots, but if you cast a Focusing Shot, you'll have to just sit there for an entire second.   

I imagine I'll get the hang of it and stop having to think about it so much, but my parses thus far have been, well... clunky.

Another interesting thing that happened was, though it's overall kind of boring to have to sit still and have long, slow casts, it does make Rapid Fire really exciting.  I found myself getting excited every time my Rapid Fire countdown started to get close.  Sure, it's all relative, but at least it's something.

As for TotH, it's still coming out the strongest of it's tier, at least in ways I've found to play it.  Though with the nerf, it's even more important that you wait for a fresh proc of TotH before casting Rapid Fire.   

Chim Shot
Celestalon asked, so I thought I'd look into it.  In my PvP gear, my shots' average damage looked like this:

Aimed Shot hit - 20068.8
Aimed Shot crit - 45928.7

Chim Shot hit -  31162.1
Chim Shot crit - 68007.5

Kill Shot hit - 29105.2
Kill shot crit - 61432.1

These numbers are based on a 20 minute fight with a 20mil HP Killable training dummy.  So while I would say that the numbers aren't realistic, their relative value should be fairly close.

It seems pretty clear that Aimed Shot is not a more powerful shot than Chim Shot.  There's really no question there.  Perhaps what some people had been trying to say was during Rapid Fire, Aimed Shot is more powerful than Chim Shot.  With the current formulas for Aimed Shot and Chim Shot, that's going to remain true until around 41% or greater crit.   Even at that point, Chim Shot remains an instant cast, and Aimed Shot, of course, keeps its cast time.  As the expansion goes on and our haste levels go up, we may see a situation where we'll want to completely just spam Aimed Shot during Rapid Fire, but at least for the first tier, that's not going to be an issue.

For those curious, averaged out to account for crit ratings during Rapid Fire (but not to adjust for cast times), the damage amounts for Aimed and Chim Shots (at my pvp gear level) looks like:

Crit %AiS ValueChim Value

Over-all, while I'm not super excited about how close in damage all three of these are, Chim Shot (other than when in Careful Aim), especially as an instant, is considerably more valuable than Aimed Shot, as it should be.  And Kill Shot is right where it should be, well above Aimed Shot, but not quite competing with Chim Shot in damage.  

Speaking of Kill Shot, I did test it out while trying to practice Sniper Training, and the reset is definitely faster now.  Only around max distance did it take longer for the shot to reset than a global CD, but even then it wasn't much longer.   As long as you can stay within 30 yards, hitting double Kill Shots shouldn't be a problem.  

Overall, it doesn't seem like these were enough of buffs to make MM competitive with BM.  It could be that I'm just not playing the rotation well (which is true) but, as I've stated before, I don't see anyway that someone plays MM unless with sniper training, it's considerably higher in damage dealing than SV or BM, which so far, is not the case.   

Of course, my playing at the Training Dummies isn't in the slightest bit conclusive, and I'm sure there are still many rounds of tuning to go before we start to get an impression of how the specs will stack up together. However, MM is so far looking pretty tough in PvE, and it's hard to imagine how it could work in PvP.  I haven't given up hope, but I am having a bit of trouble being optimistic about MM in WoD.

Hit the break for an addendum SolarFlair pointed out on twitter.

WoD Beta Build: Number Tuning

There's a new beta build, as promised, that's taking a first try at numbers.  Let's get into it:

Frozen Ammo - Nerfed: slows enemies hit by your autoshot for 4 seconds, down from 8.  This isn't a huge problem, but takes away a chance to keep multiple targets slowed by target-swapping between autoshots.

Thrill of the Hunt - Nerfed: chance to proc is 20%, down from 30%.  TotH was a bit OP compared to the other talents in the tier, but I was of course, hoping they would buff the other talents instead of nerfing a great talent.  Hopefully the 10% proc chance loss doesn't end up changing the feel of the talent too much.


Cobra Shot - Buffed: 60% weapon damage, up from 42%.  Neat?  meh...

Beast Mastery:

Kill Command - Nerfed: Down from 328.9% of RAP to 278.4%. This is disappointing; first off, if BM needed nerfing, look toward Arcane Shot, not their signature ability.  Second, BM doesn't need nerfing. Yes, it was the highest DPSing hunter spec, but it was also completely lackluster compared to other classes, middle-of-the-road at best.


Black Arrow - Buffed: Up to 85% RAP from 28.32%.  This is an exciting one that Celestalon announced on twitter a few days ago.  I'm excited to see BA have more use than just to proc LnL.  Still hoping to see some sort of dispell protection, but this makes it a much more exciting ability in PvE, at least.

*Slight Update*

Explosive Shot - Buffed: Up to 143.7% of AP spread over 3 ticks, up from 120%. Slight buff to our signature shot, sounds good to me.  It's going to make Multi-strike even more important, but I'm ok with that.

Serpent Sting - Buffed: Up to 45% of RAP, from 30.14%.  This is another great buff, in my book, and will give SV a little boost in AoE as well.


Aimed Shot - Buffed: Up to 385% Weapon Damage, up from 306%.  Again, I'd rather see MM's signature shot buffed before it's focus dump.  But with that disclaimer, Aimed Shot does work a bit different that Arcane, so a little more umphf to it won't be a bad thing at all.  In addition, any buff to Aimed Shot will in turn be a buff to Careful Aim, since this buff will, of course, double on Rapid Fire and when our target is over 80%.

The TotH nerf hits Marksmanship harder than the other classes, since it has considerably less shots per minute than BM or SV.  After playing with it on the beta for a while, I can't imagine anyone going MM as it currently is, unless it's doing considerably more damage than the other two specs. I had a lot of hope for MM in WoD, and the beta has been fairly disappointing on that front, and has given no indication they're going to fix it.  Here's hoping, though.

That's about it so far.  They also made some great changes to spelling and grammar in the tooltips.  Though I doubt that's going to make much difference to game play.

Mo' Melee Mo' Problems

Last night in raid, there was a 566 ilvl fist weapon that no one rolled on, so I finally got to get started on my own Melee Hunter set.  I went out and bought a 550 PvP sword to go with it (I also got the dagger and the fist weapon from the pvp vendor, just because I have nothing to spend conq or justice points on), and decided I'd go try out the timeless isle, melee hunter style.

If anyone out there is interested in giving it a try, note that this is not actually a viable playstyle, and should only be done for awesome points.  With that said, in my current gear, I'd have no problem holding my own in any of the normal SoO fights.  Reforging and Gemming I did using default BM hunter weight; Haste>Mastery>Crit.   I didn't actually have to ever choose between reforging to haste or mastery, so really I went with Haste=Mastery>Crit.

I tried out both Dire Beast and Fervor, but from the very limitted, completely anecdotal testing I did, I liked DB more.  Fervor was mostly wasted Focus, except for pet abilities while over 50 Focus, also DB is just cooler.

On the training dummies I was able to burst around 500k, and balanced out between 175k and 225k dps.  Out on the TI, with those crazy buffs, I could do 250k - 350k DPS, depending on how long the mob lived.  I did try some of the harder mobs, including everything up on the Ordos hill top.  Mostly you're just sitting around a lot, waiting for KC, GT or traps to come off CD, so there's plenty of time to get out of the way from any ground effects.

I also tried to take down Archiereus.  He got me a couple times; though mostly just because I wasn't paying enough attention and would get caught by that fire cone ground effect.  I got him down on the third try, which wasn't really satisfying, since he's (at least at my ilvl), pretty easy in normal hunter gear.

It was fun enough, going through the motions as melee, though I imagine it would get old fairly quickly, since you have so few abilities to use.   I may still go try some random BGs as a melee hunter,  or possibly pug into a normal mode raid, but I doubt I'll be trying to do any heroics this way, at least not any time soon.

A Couple Celestalon Tweets

A couple of things that have come up lately on Celestalon's twitter:

Nothing new there, but worth noting that it's still something they're aware of.   More importantly, they've finally started some numbers tuning for classes/specs in WoD.  Biggest buff so far:
There's not really a lot we can know from that damage change on its own, "in a vacuum" as they say, but some sort of dispel protection would be huge.

I've been fairly light on posts here lately, but once we start seeing some number changes, I'll be sure to ramp up the Thrill of the Spreadsheet posts, which I'm really looking forward to.  Good times await.

10 questions for 10 years

Over at ALT:ernative, the Godmother is working on a project gathering data from players of WoW, answering 10 questions, in honor of the 10 year aniversary of WoW coming up, and I thought it'd be fun to jump on board with my own answers.  So, here they are:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
The first time I played Warcraft I was a Junior in college, nearly 10 years back, and my friend Anfernee had downloaded WoW when it first came out.  I had seem him play the Star Wars MMO (I can't remember which one was big back then), so when he got WoW, I got to see him play through it a bit, and then I actually made a character on his account (shhh... don't tell).  They had an apartment that everyone would just hang out in, so it didn't seem weird at the time that I was playing this game on his computer.  Given how much longer leveling took back then, I got surprisingly far on that toon.

Several years later, I got the game on my own.  This is a story I'm sure many WoW players can relate to, but it came right after a break-up, and I all the sudden had tons of time.  As serendipity would have it, I happened to stumble across Felicia Day's The Guild on youtube around the same time, which made me remember playing WoW back in college.  So I decided to pick it up again.  

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?
It's hard to remember what the first character I ever played was. As I mentioned, I was in college, and playing on someone else's computer.  There were several characters I started.  One of the first that I really remember was a Nelf hunter. I don't actually remember levelling in the tree,  but I do remember the quest when you finally go across to kalimdor, and how jaw-dropping it was to find out there was such a huge world out there. 

When I finally bought the game myself, the first toon I rolled was a male Draenei Hunter.  Since I hadn't played the Warcraft games, and there hadn't been draenei the first time I played WoW, I didn't know much about their lore, but I thought they looked pretty cool: I liked the wildness of the tentacles and the goat features.    

Even though I've never done any role-playing in WoW, everytime I create a chracter I imagine I might, some day, need to RP, so a hunter was just by far the most appealing class for me because of that.   I loved the idea of it being just me and my pet, matching wits against the wilderness, or whatever creature came our way.  

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?  
Faction for me was totally random at first. I really just picked classes I wanted to play, and ended up with whatever faction they were.  I didn't until much later realize how incredibly terrible that dirty rotten no-good tyrant Varian Wrynn was. 

If I were really allowed to choose a faction, the Tauren would leave the horde, and the Draenei and Worgen would leave the alliance, and they'd all create a new faction together.   Maybe in a later patch, the trolls would leave the horde and join as well, since they're fairly wild also.   Oh, also, the Mok'nathal would definitely be part of our faction.  

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
I'm trying to think of one that stands out above the others.   There were a lot of really small victories, in my quest to become a decent hunter, and I imagine those were the most important. As I think back, a lot of them involve mastering disengage.  I don't know if it was the most memorable, but one big moment was the first time I got dropped of the ledge by a Valkyr while fighting the lich king, and I actually managed to disengage back onto the platform (sure, we still wiped, but it was a personal victory).  Or there was the first time 

5. What is your favorite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
I don't really have a favorite.  I really like raiding, I really like soloing, and I really like PvP. At various points in the game, I'll be more into one or the other, but they're all so different, that it's hard to compare one to the other.   

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
Grizzly Hills. Whether leveling as Alliance or Horde, I love the Grizzly Hills.  The music, and the scenery is the best the game has had, I think.  

I also tend to like the funny quests.  When leveling horde, there's that area in the eastern kingdoms a bit southeast of Undercity, where you have to deal with Johnny Awesome, and the main quest giver makes fun of wow players a lot. Also, the Day Deathwing Came is always a favorite quest chain, just for the silly-ness. 

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I haven't played continuously, and I'm on new accounts, so I don't know what my overall /played would be. My current main is at about 121 days, which covers being my main from Dragon Soul through now.  The next closest is another hunter, which doesn't get played as much these days, but was played during late wrath and early cata.  The closest currently that isn't a hunter is a druid I have sitting at a measly 22 days 16 hours played. 

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?Hardly ever.  I mentioned this on my blog recently (a month ago or so), I don't find leveling super compelling in WoW.  I'd really like it if they would make the quests interesting enough that I wanted to read the text, but if it's just telling me I need to collect 10 such and such, then I don't really care why I'm collecting those things.  Every once in a while I'll end up wasting a lot of time not understanding how I'm supposed to collect whatever it is I'm supposed to be collecting,  but generally you can guess quite easily.  

I imagine they'd get too many complaints in a game like wow (since people are used to having most of the game designed toward the lowest common denominator), but I wouldn't at all mind if the quests became more intricate, and there was actually some amount of puzzle to them.   That's a part of traditional RPGs that I miss when playing WoW.   

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
I really started getting into playing my hunter well, or at least striving to, from reading Frostheim's posts on the Warcraft Hunters Union, and I suppose one of my only real regrets was not rolling a Dwarf Hunter on Icecrown when they first started the WHU guild and the all hunter events there.  At the time I just didn't have enough time to participate in those and IRL things going on, but I loved watching the videos of those events, and often wish I could have been a part of them.   

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?
I think playing Warcraft opens you up in a way. This may sound strange, but I think it's a stigmatized enough game, that when you tell people IRL that you play WoW, it opens them up a lot, or brings their defenses down.  In the more recent years, "nerd" has become a lot cooler, but it's in this strange sort of hipster way, where it's really only cool to be nerdy ironically. But if you tell someone about spending your free time slaying dragons and fighting tyrant kings, they're like "hey, here's some dork who plays WoW, I can really be myself in front of them".  

And there it is, my 10 for 10.  If  you're interested in participating, head over the Alt:ernative where she has listed several ways that you can submit your own answers. 

WoD Beta: The Subtleties of BM

After taking a break from raiding for the month of July, my main team is starting to get back in to some SoO runs, in hope of gearing up some new members for faster levelling, and just to get some practice working together before WoD and the new Mythic system drop. I played the current live version of BM in a farm run last night, and it got me thinking a bit more about some of the changes to BM when playing in WoD.

The Target Swap:
The first thing I noticed, is I don't have to think much about target swapping in WoD.  I mean, I have to think about which target I should be prioritizing, and to some extent keeping up Beast Cleave, but for the most part, in WoD, you just hit your highest priority target.  The reason this is sticking out to me as a significant difference is while playing the BM on the WoD Beta, I very quickly forgot about Serpent Sting.

I don't think I ever noticed it before, but now I find myself sitting in raid anytime there are a couple targets for a significant amount of time, trying to decide if I should put up SS or not.  I realize this is a little bit silly, and that as I get back into the swing of the 5.4/MoP playstyle it will go back to being second nature.  Still, it was something that stuck out to me as making BM a good bit easier on multi-target fights.   You only have one thing to really think about, a fairly simple cleave up-time.

Level 100 Talents:
The more I play with them, the more I'm starting to notice more differences with the level 100 talents.  The one that's surprised me the most is Adaptation. At first I felt like this was a cool talent, but not really something that I would notice; like it would just be my pet over there doing neat stuff without me.  However, it's really growing on me, and I feel like it is changing the playstyle of BM, even if just a little bit.

For example, RoS is one of those abilities that I have macro'ed/key-bound in PvP, but since I only use cunning pets in PvP, I don't really think about it any other time.  Now I have this extra bit survivability CD when using a tank pet or a DPS pet, and all of the sudden I'm finding all sorts of situations where I want to use it.  Sure, chances are I wasn't really going to die, but, especially while learning new 5-player dungeons, if the tank slips up or the healer slips up, you've got one more go-to ability to save the wipe (even if it just involves keeping one of them alive for a few extra seconds so you can finish pew pewing).

The other big thing with Adaptation, is now that they've removed the Empowered Pets perk, that combat experience buff is looking pretty sweet (not that it didn't look sweet before, really).

Another one I've liked (which, really, I liked with SV and MM too) is Focusing Shot.  It just feels good to be getting that huge influx of focus.  There's no more needing to slowly build up your focus to get ready for Bestial Wrath,  just hit Focusing Shot once, then pop BW with plenty of focus to spam arcane and KC through the whole duration.   It does, just like when using it on the other two specs, take a bit more attention to detail, but it feels totally worth it to me.

As I mentioned when talking about BM earlier this week, it could be that it just feels so good because it's the only spec we have in WoD that's doing even average damage. But, I am having fun with it, and that'll have to be good enough until they start doing some damage tuning.

WoD Beta: Baking in Perks

Build 18689 was released for the Warlords Beta, and basically everything is the same, but in a different format.

Beast Mastery

  • Arcane Shot: An instant shot that causes 114% Arcane damage.
  • Cobra Shot: Deals 35%42% Nature damage and generates 14 Focus.Useable while moving.
  • Kill Command: Give the command to kill, causing your pet to instantly inflict [1.5 * (0 + (Ranged attack power * 1.5751.89)) * 1] damage to its target. 25 yard range.

Replacing the boring perks with plain, baseline +20% to Kill Command, Cobra Shot and Arcane Shot.


  • Aimed Shot: A powerful aimed shot that deals 306% Physical damage.
  • Bombardment: Your critical strikes with Multi-Shot cause your subsequent Multi-Shots to cost 25 less Focus and cause 60% additional damage for 5 sec.
  • Chimaera Shot: A two-headed shot that hits your primary target and another nearby target, dealing 0% Nature or Frost damage to each target for 35 Focus.
  • Steady Shot: A steady shot that causes 42% Physical damage and generates 14 Focus.Usable while moving.

Steady Shot and Aimed Shot both get a 20% buff baseline instead of as perks, and  Chim Shot is now has a baseline focus cost of 35, and bombardment reducing the focus cost of multi-shots by 25.   *Yawn*


  • Arcane Shot: An instant shot that causes 114% Arcane damage.
  • Black Arrow: Fires a Black Arrow at the target, dealing (169.92% of Attack power) damage over 18 sec.When your Black Arrow multistrikes, you gain 1 stack of Lock and Load. Lock and Load causes your next Explosive Shot to trigger no cooldown. Max 5 stacks.
  • Cobra Shot: Deals 42% Nature damage and generates 14 Focus. Usable while moving.
  • Serpent Sting: Targets hit by your Multi-Shot and Arcane Shot are also afflicted by Serpent Sting, dealing (150.72% of Attack power) Nature damage over 15 sec.

20% buffs to Serpent Sting, Cobra Shot, Black Arrow and Arcane Shot, again, instead of perks.

And finally, a baseline increase to focusing shot of 20% damage:
Focusing Shot: Carefully line up a shot at the target that deals 120% Physical damage and focuses you, generating 50 Focus.Cannot be cast while moving.Replaces Steady Shot and Cobra Shot.

The perks that are left (now only four per spec) look like this:


You'll surely notice a very fun one is missing from Survival's perks.  I'm not really too disappointed about it. I had had some fun with Improved Camo in Ashran on the Beta.  But it wasn't that great, and it certainly didn't make up for doing piss-poor damage.  So if not having that perk means we can be tuned reasonably for damage dealing, then I'm all about it.   

We still haven't seen any balancing start.  Hopefully that happens sometime soon.  Though with the announcement of the new old raid in November, it seems they've got plenty of time to do balancing. 

More Melee Hunter

Just an hour ago (or so), I saw Bree Mookie put up another Melee Hunter video, and thought it might be worth mentioning here.  Something must be in the air.  Check it out:

I imagine she just mis-spoke, but make sure you ignore the part about ignoring aspect of the hawk, since Kill Command and Glaive Toss use ranged attack power as a modifiers:  RAP * .938 + 935.333

Melee Hunters: Following in Rexxar's Footsteps

While questing through Gorgrond for the second time in the WoD Beta, I decided even though I'd already done that portion, I really wanted to go do Rexxar's quests again.   He's easily one of my favorite characters in the game. When WoD was first announced at Blizzcon last year, my biggest dream for the expansion was that they would announce Mok'Nathal as a new playable race, and to go along with it, an aspect that would allow BM or SV hunters to use modified melee versions of their abilities with melee weapons.

That, is obviously not going to happen, but a hunter can dream, right?  Let's take a second to talk about why Rexxar would be such an amazing archetype.  First of all, there's the outfit.  Hunters do not need mail, especially when we're shooting a bow or gun, but even when we're in melee.  A single shoulder guard to take arrows, or deflect a silly warrior who tries to leap at us, that's enough armor. We most certainly don't need an ornate helm; a nice bandanna to keep the hair out of our eyes, totally acceptable, but no need at all for the helms they've been giving us.  My final point about his outfit (and then I promise to stop talking about clothes) is why do only the ladies get to go around wearing almost nothing?   It's hot out, and sometimes I just want to take my shirt off, damn it.

The next, and I think most important, reason I want to see Rexxar as the hunter archetype, is while he has some allegiance to faction, his first loyalty remains to his animal companions, and to the wilderness.  Even if he comes to the aid of the horde in their times of need, he can't remain cooped up in a city, he's got to get back to the wilderness. In Warcraft II he explained to Thrall: "I am Mok'Nathal--a wanderer. I belong in the wilds, amidst the beasts and elements of the land."

Rexxar's allegiance to the beasts of the wild is further exemplified in Warlords of Draenor's Rexxar, when you have an opportunity to save his bird, and in doing so get to team up with him to take on some of the clans of the Iron Horde together.  You also, as someone he respects, get to decide if one of your compatriots under your command get to live or die.  Though actually you can't go forward with anything if you let Rexxar kill them.   Still, it's an interesting dynamic, and definitely fun to see.

The point of all this is, Rexxar is a skilled melee hunter, duel wielding axes, and it's freaking awesome.  I really like the way it looks and feels, and while I wouldn't necessarily want to play melee hunter in a raid (cause melee is kind of silly in raids anyway, other than the tank), but it would be fun to level or do some soloing as melee.  It wouldn't have to be a huge design change for hunters, just add a stance type ability which lets you use your core rotational abilities as "strikes" instead of "shots".  Cobra Strike, Arcane Strike, Explosive Strike (ok, that one doesn't make a lot of sense).  It would be significantly different from Rogues, Kitties or Monks, mostly in that you're still rebuilding your resource the same way all hunters do, and there would be no combo points of any sort.  Just like with Lone Wolf, where you can't use abilities that require you to have a pet, this could have similar limitations, other than converting core rotational abilities to melee abilities, you wouldn't be able to launch traps, only set them, and it wouldn't have to convert talents like binding shot.

Even though it's not a real, viable way to play well, there are a few hunters out there having fun with Melee.  Pypo has a video of a random  BG where he plays a Melee BM Cow.  And most people who follow hunters will remember the Melee Hunter vs Dark Shamans video that made the rounds back in March.  Part of me likes that it's not really something blizzard helps with, but hunters just make it happen.  Still, I wouldn't mind at all if we one day received a melee option.

WoD Beta: Beast Mastery

I've really been trying to think about Beast Mastery in the WoD Beta.  Unfortunately, there really isn't that much to report.  Regardless of which level 100 talent you take, or which perks you've got (or if you have them all), the rotation is still fairly unchanged.

The real trouble with BM is that in the beta, since they haven't done even the slightest bit of damage balancing between specs and classes, BM is the only hunter spec doing acceptable damage.  So it's hard to be super critical of your rotation when you're doubling the damage you had been doing as Survival.  Still, I'll try to go over a couple of the changes, even if they are slight.

BM levelling is in a pretty good place, as mentioned before, because it has by far the most damage possibility of the three specs.  I did run into a couple of issues where I would have to keep my pet on passive and make sure I got off a shot before my pet killed them.  Especially if you're used to opening on mobs with Kill Command, if you get the kill command perk early, or empowered pets, it will be really easy for your pet to one-shot things, which you don't get credit for.

Pet Perks:
Speaking of Empowered Pets (and Enhanced Basics, and Improved Beast Cleave, and Improved Kill Command), the percentage of your damage being credited to your pet is going way up in WoD.  Most logs I've seen have the pets hovering around 60% of the total damage.  This isn't going to make a huge difference in your rotation, but it will mean that getting off the most KCs possible will be even more important than it is now.

Of course, as I always say, it's too early to make a definitive statement in the Beta, but, I feel like we can already, fairly certainly, see that BM will continue to be the best AoE spec.   Even if you adjust to consider that SV and MM are way behind the curve in all damage, their AoE potential still doesn't compare with BM's.

Improved Focus Fire:
I'm really quite excited about this change to Focus Fire. As it currently is, Focus Fire is a delicate art which has the potential to gain you just a small amount of dps, while being able to cost you a significant amount if you use it incorrectly, or have bad RNG.  This perk, however, adds in a little more incentive to use it at the appropriate time.

At first glance it may seem like this will be another neat ability that won't at all affect our playstyle/rotation, but if you really want to get the most out of it, it will change the rotation just a bit.   Where before,  you generally wanted to use Focus Fire right after Bestial Wrath, in order to give your pet full stacks of frenzy during BW.   While that's still going to be important, we're also going to add in that to get the most out of Focus Fire, you'll want to be close to focus capped before you use it.  Without any snapshotting, there's not a lot of opportunity to take advantage of a small, short buff like this, so having a lot of focus to burn will allow you to smash through some harder hitting shots.

The other thing we'll want to look at, is getting off two Kill Commands and one Glaive Toss during the Focus Fire buff.   That should be fairly simple to do, but will require just a little bit more planning than we've currently been doing.

Overall Impressions:
There's not really that much more to say.  As I was writing this I realized that in the MM and SV articles, I really didn't spend much of any time talking about "perks", but since there's not that much new to BM, that's about all there is to talk about here.

I do appreciate that they left one spec fairly unchanged, even if it makes that spec a little on the boring side.  BM was in a good place all through MoP, so as long as it continues to do competitive damage, I feel pretty good about how it plays.

Blizzcon 2014 Hunter Meet-up

ArtemisHowl of Blood Legion and TeamHunter is helping to organize a hunter meet-up at Blizzcon this coming November.  Currently, the times they're looking at are:

  • Wednesday Early Afternoon (Nov 5th)
  • Wednesday Evening (Nov 5th)
  • Thursday Evening After Badges (Nov 6th)
  • Friday Evening After the Convention (Nov 7th)
  • Sunday During the Day (Nov 9th)
Since most of you are on the WHU's facebook page, the easiest way to let your preference for time known is through a survey on that page.  You could also tweet @ArtemisHowl, or if you want, leave a comment or use the contact form here and I'll pass that on to the organizers.   

Artemis, if you're reading this, so long as there's plenty of beer and hunters, any time works for me.