WoD Beta: Survival Tier Bonuses

Last (and possibly least): a look at the tier 17 Survival set bonuses.  I'm sorry to say that they're not quite as impressive as the BM or MM set bonuses.  Between when Blizzard released the t17 bonuses to test, and when I got around to writing this, the SV 4-piece bonus received a fairly significant buff, indicating, I think, that they at least are aware that the set bonuses were fairly lackluster.  It seems more than possible that these set bonuses might change again before long, but just in case they don't, I thought I'd go through how they're looking right now.

This is somewhat fun.  Though not quite as powerful as BM's or MM's 2-piece, it provides an opportunity for planning out a little bit of burst damage.  

With the increased (even after the last round of nerfs) daage of Black Arrow, you can't quite delay BA until right after you cast an Explosive Shot.  Though, around when there are less than 2 seconds left on the CD of  ES, it does become (most likely, still RNG to factor) worth it to delay BA until right after the Explosive Shot.  

Other than that situation with Explosive Shots, Black Arrow is going to be at the top of our priority list, including keeping Serpent Sting up (though there shouldn't be any occasion where you have to choose between the two).  

The other area this really affects is your opener.  Just like we used to pre-casting Ice Trap, the 2-piece gives us a chance to force proc LnL on our opener, while all of our trinkets and pre-pot are up.  At early x-pace haste levels, this does mean we'll have a fairly limited options on the opener.  My favorite opener looked like this:  

-1 - Pre-pot
-1 - Arcane Shot (must be 40 yards back)
Pull - aMoC (or stampede, perhaps)
+1 - Explosive Shot
+2 - Black Arrow
+3 - Explosive Shot
+4 - Explosive Shot
+5 - Explosive Shot
+6 - Cobra Shot

This opener leaves us with almost 0 focus left after that last Explosive Shot, and we're actually almost out of focus when we cast Black Arrow.  Depending on our gears haste rating, we might have to wait a small fraction of a second before casting the last Explosive Shot.  

Another option I considered, was if we used GT to begin. We would run out of focus before getting off all of our explosive shots if we used GT and Arcane at the beginning, so instead we'd have to push it back until after the last ES. If we did that, we could either use arcane shot at the +6 sec mark, or a second and a half later after a cobra shot, depending on whether TotH proc'ed or not.   However, in this situation, we'd be delaying losing three ticks of Serpent Sting, and the damage from an Arcane Shot and 3 ticks of SS is about 33% more than just a Glaive Toss.  

Regardless, the point of all that is, while having a guaranteed LnL proc in the pull might not be as impressive as two back-to-back Bestial Wraths, or that 45% increased crit damage at the end of Rapid Fire, at least it's something. 

Out of four 17 - 20 minute training dummy fights, during the fight I had this buff up the least, it's up-time was around 90%.  On the other three fights, it's up-time was >99%, which at this point we're assuming is the intended mechanic of bonus.  The only effect it's going to have on players is making Multi-strike a bit more valuable as a stat on gear.  If we still had DoT snap-shotting, there might be a way to take advantage of the extra stats, but as the mechanics are working in WoD, there shouldn't be any change to our rotation.

Neither of these set bonuses, as they exist right now, look like enough of a buff to bring SV to a very viable place in tier 17.  Perhaps these could create some fun times soloing, or using SV in other PvE situations, though.  We still haven't received any explanations of the recent nerfs SV has received to Black Arrow or Explosive Shot, so, though it's doubtful, there must be a chance that SV has the potential to do more damage in a way we haven't considered.  Unfortunately, I'm afraid that blizzard has sort of painted themselves into a corner, in a matter of speaking.  Both of the other Hunter specs' tier bonuses rely heavily on their being a spec CD that they can use.  That's been true for a while now, that at least one of the set bonuses would augment a CD.  Perhaps I'm too quick to judge, but with SV having no CD or Execute outside of talents, they seem to be coming up short on ways to make effective, fun tier set bonuses.  

The biggest help doing all of this testing has been, is I'm finally getting used to refreshing SS with my Arcane Shot instead of Cobra Shot, so my up-times are back up where they should be.  It's the little things in life, so they say.  

WoD Beta: Marksmanship Tier Bonuses

Sniper Training: because running around like an idiot is the rogue's job

I had a lot of fun testing the Marksmanship tier bonuses.  Much like BM's 2-piece set bonus, MM's set bonuses completely change your rotation.

To be clear, that's a total of 35 focus.  That means when TotH is proc'ed and Aimed Shot crits, you'll be building focus, not dumping it.   During Careful Aim, without the 2-piece when TotH is up, you're better off just spamming Aimed Shots (unless you have enough focus to make it all the way to the end of Careful Aim without running out), because the amount of damage you can do hitting Chimeara Shot and 2 Steady Shots (to get back your focus) is less than the amount of damage you'd do in the same amount of time, just spamming Aimed Shots for 10 focus each.   However, in the same rotational situation, with the 2-piece, you'll now be building focus by spamming Aimed Shots.  So you'll need to hit Chim Shot on CD, just to keep from focus capping.  

Another consequence of the 2-piece is, aside from burst AoE situations, there's really going to be no place in your rotation to use barrage.  The ultra high Focus cost is a complete waste during Rapid Fire, despite how much Barrage benefits from the Haste buff, because it's damage per focus just doesn't compare to Aimed Shots with guaranteed crits. Barrage will, however, still be very helpful in helping MM be viable in AoE situation, though it's really not looking like it will be viable for heavy AoE situations anyhow. 

Speaking of AoE, I am a bit disappointed to see that while BM's 2-piece set bonus is an incredible buff to BM AoE, MM's isn't going to do anything to help with AoE situations.  The 4-piece, however, will at least have some effect on AoE:

This isn't going to be a game changer for MM, but it does mean that we'll be seeing a little bit more damage out of our Multishots and Barrage.  In Heavy AoE situatioins, with TotH and Bombardment, we should be able to get some considerable Multishot spam, and start to get a bit more damage out of it.  This has the downside of still being very RNG intensive, and you will lack a lot of control, since you won't be able to make the damage go to a specific target, but will instead get randomly more damage to random targets.

I haven't done a lot of testing with AoE coefficients yet, so I don't have an exact number of targets where Multishot becomes more valuable than Aimed Shot.  With the 4-piece, during Rapid Fire, that number will go up.  That is to say, you'll need your Multishot to hit more targets to make it worth more DPS than the guaranteed Aimed Shot crits, as they will (at a certain crit rating) always be benefiting from the 4-piece set bonus.

In single-target situations, the MM 4-piece set bonus is much more clear cut, of course, and it really doesn't have any effect on our rotation.  There may be a slight addendum that it will be even more important to make sure you can spam Aimed Shots the entire way through Rapid Fire (you do not want to be using Steady Shots), but you should be doing that anyway, so it's hardly a change, just more important to do it right.  

Another single-target effect of the 4-piece is it will, for the most part, make Lone Wolf your talent of choice in the lvl 100 tier.  When those buffs start multiplying together, you'll being seeing unreasonably large crits.  From my last logs, I had Aimed shots crit as high as 86,870, and a Chim Shot crit at 144,329 (which, at least for the Chim Shot crit, was about 50k higher than I'd seen before, with similar gear but without the set bonuses). Given that your 2-piece will cause Aimed Shots to be returning a lot of focus anyway, though it may be a bit too early to rule it out completely, I don't see much reason to use Focusing Shot. 

Closing Remarks:

Overall, the MM tier bonuses were a lot of fun.  There's something really satisfying about seeing those ridiculous crits.  Especially if the devs have decided that MM will be a slow, casting type spec. It is a little strange, that I was really upset about the prospect of a two button rotation.  But now that those two buttons are Aimed Shot and Chim Shot (at least, during the first 20% of the boss's health) with their monster crits, I'm surprisingly ok with it.   

WoD Beta: BM and the Tale of Tier Bonuses

On Wednesday evening, blizzard released the next tier's gear for testing.  Hunters now have the Rylakstalker set, with a few pretty decent bonuses.

For BM (I'll get into SV and MM's bonuses another time), the bonus reads:

(2) Set: Kill Command has a chance to reset the cooldown of Bestial Wrath.
(4) Set: While Bestial Wrath is active, one additional pet is summoned to fight with you. 

After a few thousand Kill Commands, it looks like the "chance" to reset is somewhere close to 20%, or about one in every 5 Kill Commands will reset Bestial Wrath.  I ended up averaging 1 Bestial Wrath every 31.8 seconds, which is a pretty nice little bonus.

Lining-up Multiple Resets:
When I say I averaged a BW every 32 seconds, that could be a bit misleading.  Sometimes I would go through the entire cd of BW, and it would reset the old fashioned way, and sometimes it would reset on the first Kill Command I cast after popping BW.  Unfortunately, this is going to make Beast Mastery just about as reliant on RNG as Survival has been in 5.4.  however, there are a few things we can do to manage some of those quick resets, and make sure we're prepared to get the most DPS out of them.

The first question that was brought up to me, is should we use the second BW immediately, before the first is over.  I imagine the line of thinking here is something like: if we wait until the end of of BW, then we might miss a reset, because BW will be off cd already.  So let's take a look at how that would compare.

If our goal is to always have BW on cd when we hit KC, we can accomplish that by simply macroing it into KC.  That way, if it resets on one KC, we'll use it fractions of a second before the next KC, allowing it to be on cd again, before the next KC.  So it would look like this:

0 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
0 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
6 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
6 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
12 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
16 sec - Bestial wrath ends.

So in this situation, where we received one BW reset right after casting BW, we would have been better off waiting until the end of BW to cast the second, since that would have given us 20 seconds worth of BW, and here we only got 16 seconds.  What about if it resets twice in a row? That would look like this:

0 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
0 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
6 sec - Bestial Wrath
6 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
12 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
12 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
18 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
22 sec - Bestial Wrath ends

Here we actually did get an extra 2 seconds (we would have only had 20 seconds, again, had we waited until BW were finished to re-cast it).   If we continue to play this little game, and look at all the various options on which KCs reset BW, you'll find most of the time, you're going to get 4 or 8 extra seconds of BW by holding off on casting it until the BW that's currently up is over.  But, there certainly are some situations where that's not the case, and you'll gain 2 or 4 seconds of BW by always assuring BW is on CD before casting a KC.

I'm having trouble getting Warcraft Logs to work reliably with Beta information, at the moment, so this next bit is perhaps more speculation than fact.  You've been warned.

So, when you do get multiple Bestial Wraths in a row, we have a new set of problems.  The traditional advice for dealing with BW, is you should pool focus leading up to when BW comes off cd, so when you cast BW, all you have to do is hit KC and AS (and Kill Shot, if it's that time in the fight).   This is still just as true in WoD as it's been in MoP (with exceptions for barrage and Glaive Toss).  Using BW while you're low on focus, means you're buffing cobra shot (or focusing shot, if you swing that way), which just, well, isn't what you want to use your buff for.

What I found produced the best results, was holding my second BW even longer, hitting a couple of Cobra Shots (and, if applicable, focus fire, but we'll get to that later), then popping my second Bestial Wrath.  This allowed me to really get the most out of the Bestial Wraths.  Furthermore, if you hit BW a second time right after the first one ends (and you started the first one right before hitting a Kill Command), you'll only just barely have time to get a second Kill Command into the second BW.  If you end up running low on focus, and need to use Cobra Shot, you may push the second Kill Command out of the BW buff.  The benefit of using a couple Cobra Shots before reapplying BW, is you will then be reapplying it right before your Kill Command, insuring you'll most definitely get two into both Bestial Wraths.

Once I have access to less bugged logs, I'll try to actually run the numbers and some probabilities, to see if I can verify this, but for now, I feel pretty confident about it.

2-Piece w/ Barrage
This also plays pretty well with barrage.  Because Barrage has that super high focus cost, it can be a bit difficult to use without delaying your Kill Command, however, if you use it while in Bestial Wrath,  What I've found gets the most out of my BWs, is hitting my normal Kill Command and Arcane spam, and then on the very last GCD of BW, use barrage.  This gives you the half focus price, without having to use a big long channel in the middle of BW.

Though as I mentioned above, I'm not completely trusting my logs at the moment, it does appear that Barrage is not snapshotting damage.  So if you cast Barrage on the last GCD of BW, you'll only have one second of buffed Barrage hits,  not the full 2.X.  So if you do end up with a string of multiple Bestial Wraths in a row, I don't think it would be wrong to cast Barrage on CD (instead of waiting until the end, so long as you can insure that you aren't delaying Kill Command.

Focus Fire Glory
I am loving the new Focus Fire.  While in the past, Focus Fire has been more of a Focus Regen kind of cd, that you really just use during the dull points when you're going to cast a few Cobra Shots; now it has become a monster DPS cd.  I don't have enough numbers to say so definitively, but it's looking like the AP bonus to FF is going to be enough to make stacking it with BW more valuable than having five stacks of frenzy on your pet during BW.  The real reason I love it so much, is after testing a lot of Marksmanship, I'm just so bored with cast times.  Cutting down the cast time of CS 66% of the time is just awesome.

Without the 2-piece bonus, the best way I've found to use Focus Fire, is make sure you want to hold your frenzy stacks so you have five, 10 seconds before BW comes off cd.  If you can use it 10 seconds before BW, then you'll have 10 seconds of increased focus regen, and 10 seconds for your pet to build back up a few stacks of frenzy, in addition to having the AP buff all the way through Bestial Wrath.  Then I can generally use it again after BW, so long as I have at least around 35 seconds left on my BW cd timer.

I did once, while testing, have the problem where frenzy ran out of time before building another stack, so I lost my four stacks.  Because of this, I'd say it's still worth while to have a decent Weak Aura or Tell Me When set up, so if it's within about a second of falling off, you can use up whatever amount of stacks you have. Even if it's for a smaller AP/Haste buff, it's better than nothing.

With the 2 piece set bonus, there's really no way to plan out your Focus Fire uses, since you, for the most part, have no idea when you're going to be getting your next Bestial Wrath.  It's not too bad though.  For one thing, having 5 stacks of frenzy is still a pretty decent buff during Bestial Wrath, so as on live, you'll still never want to cast focus fire while in BW, as it's a very wasted GCD, and you're already getting some benefit from having the frenzy. If I do get a couple of Bestial Wraths in a row, I will use FF right after the first one, then hit a Cobra Shot, before reapplying BW.


There's really not much going on with your 4-piece.  It doesn't affect your rotation really.  One consideration might be that because it will lose up-time when it bugs out, you'll want to switch targets before casting BW, but that's something we all should have been doing anyway.  Bendak over at Eyes of the Beast found the summoned pet wasn't doing any basic attacks, it was only doing melees.  Which means we don't get a lot of DPS from it.  Basically, a lack-luster bonus, even if it is cool to see a second pet up there.   With the huge rotational change in the 2-piece bonus, I think we'll be ok without getting much out of the 4-piece.

Closing Remarks
I am getting more excited about having to play BM for another xpac. The Focus Fire buff is interesting and fun.  That two piece set bonus, even if I'd prefer a lot less RNG, it's pretty cool.  I was loving seeing constant bit red pets smashing the boss's face in.  I haven't tested the SV or MM changes, but they're looking fairly interesting also.  I'll try to post my thoughts on those set bonuses early next week.

For anyone who made it all the way through this fairly long post, tomorrow is my birthday.  I'll most likely be off line for a bit this weekend.  While I do love beta testing, and especially testing hunter abilities, it's not exactly what I think of as a fun birthday activity.

Thrill of the Spreadsheet: Understanding Multistrike

I've seen a few explanations of how multistrike affects your damage, and each time I was left a bit unsatisfied.  So, as perhaps can be expected at this point, I decided to try to give it a shot, and really spell it out as clear as I can.

Multistrike - gives most abilities up to two separate chances to hit their original target an additional time for 30% of the original amount in PvE. 

Just as a little side note here, to make things a little bit clearer, from this point forward, I'm going to refer to one of the 30% damage shots following your main shot as a "multistrike", and i'm going to refer to the stat as "MS" ("MS%" or "MS Rating").

The trouble in understanding that, is it doesn't really explain how much of a damage increase each % of multistrike gives you.  However, with a little bit of algebra, we can convert this to a bit simpler to understand function.  

To start off, the number of multistrikes you average per shot will be a simple function of the MS%.  If you have, for example, 20% MS, then you have have a 36% chance of getting at least 1 multistrike for any individual ability you use; that is to say, if you fire 100 arcane shots (which do 5000 dam each, we'll get to that later though), you'll get (on average) 36 of those to proc at least one multistrike.  In addition to that, you have a 4% chance of getting 2 multistrikes off of any individual ability.  So of those 36 multistrikes (proc'ed off of a hundred abilities), 4 of them will will have partners, bringing our total up to 40 multistrikes out of every 100 abilities. Of course, that's the same thing as saying you'll average .4 multistrikes per shot, if you have 20% MS.  

Then, because each of those multistrikes do 30% as much damage as the original shot, in our little example here we can go ahead and multiply that in there. If we have 100 arcanes doing 5000 damage each (500,000 damage total), and then we'll have 40 multistrikes which will do .3*5000 damage, that brings us 560,000 damage, a 12% increase in damage.   And that's the number we're really interested in.  For 20% MS, we get a 12% increase in damage.  

The function which explains that for any given MS% or ability's damage is:

Total Damage = (MS% * 2 * .3 * base damage)

Or  we can divide that all by the base damage if we're interesting in just the percent increase in damage:

Increase in damage = (MS% * 2 * .3 * base damage) / base damage

which can be simplified to a much easier:

Increase in damage = MS% * 3/5

In increments of 5% MS, that ends up looking like this:

MS % Dam. Incr.
20% 12%
25% 15%
30% 18%
35% 21%
40% 24%
45% 27%
50% 30%
55% 33%
60% 36%
65% 39%
70% 42%
75% 45%
80% 48%
85% 51%
90% 54%
95% 57%
100% 60%

For those who don't like to think in algebraic, the easiest way to understand that, I think, is looking at that last entry, with 100% MS.  It makes sense that 100% MS would give you 60% extra damage, since it will guarantee you 2, 30% extra damage shots. The point of all of this is, 1% MS gives you 3/5 % increase in damage.  

There is then, just one more number we need to look at when thinking about the stat: the amount of the stats on gear that it takes to make up 1%MS. As it's tuned currently on the beta (which seems likely to make it onto live, at this point), it takes 66 MS rating.  That means for every 66 MS you get a 3/5% increase to your damage.  For a 1% increase in damage, then, you'll need 110 MS rating, which is a somewhat interesting number, and not because it's the smallest number that's the product of two different substrings (just look it up), but because it's the exact same rating you need to get 1% crit (which much more conveniently, 1% crit happens to equal a 1% damage increase).

So basically, we have two stats which do the exact same thing.  This doesn't mean they'll be of equal worth.  Currently there are a few more mechanics which add benefits to crit; perhaps the biggest for hunters right now is the MM Aimed Shot, which returns 20 focus to you when it crits.  Another major effect on the value of the stats is the newly introduced Stat Attunements, which provide 5% more of the respective stats from gear.  There's also specs like Survival which has a basic, flat increases to Multistrike damage (for those interested, you get more stats from your gear, and you get 20% more damage per multistrike, so in the end you get 1% of MS from less stats, and instead of getting 3/5% damage increase per 1% MS, that extra 20% damage per multistrike gives you a total of .72% damage increase per 1% MS). *Edit* Thanks to dues payer and WHU member Jacques for pointing out that the 20% is not applied to the damage of the original shot, but to the damage of the multistrike.

The last thing I'd like to bring up (which I've already mentioned on this site, but I feel like it's worth reiterating) is that that Multi-strike is multiplicative with with the other secondary stats (except for perhaps haste).  What I mean by that, is if your arcane shot does 5k base damage, and you have 25% crit, and 25% multistrike,  your arcane shot will not average 7500 damage (which would be 5k + 5k*.25+5k*.25), instead, it's going to average 7812.5 (which is 5k*1.25*1.25).   This is because Multistrikes can Crit.  So Critical nets you more damage when paired with Mulistrikes, and vice versa.  This is also true of Versatility, and for hunter specs, Mastery (on applicable abilities).  

Anyhow, after writing this, I'm not sure if I've actually managed to make the subject any simpler, or if perhaps I've made it seem even more confusing.  Hopefully something in here will help someone, though.  

WoD Beta: Marks and the New Barrage

I finally, last night, was able to go over my logs from testing the latest iteration of Barrage.  As I've already shown relatively similar comparisons using SV, I'll try to keep this fairly brief.

If you don't remember, the new barrage has a 20sec CD, and does 960% weapon damage to its main target, at a greatly increased cost of 60 focus.  My stats were as follows:

Weapon Damage952-1430

I killed a couple of test dummies to come up with this info, which amounted to around 18 minutes per fight. Still, even at that length, there were several discrepancies that didn't regress toward the mean, so either RNG is off a bit, or I'm not testing something right.  Anyhow, here are the shot values as MM, with Lone Wolf:

ShotHitCritPer cast ave:

With each test, Chim Shot came out the clearly most valuable shot, as the highest damage dealing shot, the highest Damage per Focus, and the highest Damage per Cast-time per Focus, at 1601.65.  For comparison's sake, the DPCTF (there's gotta be a better way to say that) for the shots ended up looking like:


What's more interesting here, however, is that Aimed Shot (even without TotH procs) beat out Barrage in both Damage per Focus, and Damage per Cast-time per Focus.  If you have a TotH proc, then Aimed Shot's DPCTPF shoots up to 582.99, and when you crit with a TotH proc, the DPCTPF outpaces even Chim Shot, going all the way up to 1748.96.  (I'll add more on this later).  

The result of this is, unfortunately, for single target the fancy new buffed barrage will net you less DPS than spamming Aimed Shots.  Glaives gives you a lot more bang for your buck, so to speak, and at the same time gives the spec an extra instant to use when you've got nothing else to do.  If you aren't using Lone Wolf, the numbers do look a little bit different, but the value of Barrage only comes up to about the same as Aimed Shot, it doesn't really pull ahead.  

One of the other things I noticed about using Barrage with MM, is it doesn't play well with TotH.  That is, because of the super long cast time for Aimed Shot, you've really got to use your AiS quickly, or you'll lose your stacks of TotH.  This can be a problem if you're attempting to pool focus to use for Barrage. At the whim of RNG, getting off Barrage on CD can sometimes be troublesome.  

Revisiting the Chim Shot vs. Aimed Shot Debate

As I mentioned above, the value (as measured in DPCTPF) of Aimed Shot goes up when you get a crit, or when you use it while having TotH.  Another way to increase the DPCTPF of Aimed Shot, however, is using Rapid Fire. RF brings the cast time of AiS down to 1.55 seconds (in the 660 gear I was testing in), which brings the value of Aimed Shot up to  2493.68 (with TotH, assuming automatic crit from Careful Aim).  There is still some tuning to do, and I'll continue to check the numbers, looking at different gearing options and such, but so far I feel like we're pretty much ready to say during Rapid Fire, if we have TotH up, we spam Aimed Shot, even at the cost of delaying Chim Shots.   If you don't have TotH procs to use, then Chim will retake the lead, however.   

Stat Weights and the SimC

A quick bit extra, while I'm talking about Marksmanship, there have been some questions about stat weights due to simulations from the recent builds of SimC.  What people have noticed, is when they run a simulation using the Marksman t17(heroic or mythic) gear set and fight type, they're getting a report that says Multi-shot is, by a decent margin, the most valuable secondary stat.   

The problem with this, however, is that we now have three (four for some specs, depending on how their mastery works) which have very similar results, and furthermore, are multiplicative.   So the value of Multi-strike increases if you have a lot of crit, and vice versa.  This comes down to a very basic concept:

x*x > (x-1)*(x+1)

Of course, in the case of our stats (especially for MM), certain stats will have added mechanical bonuses, such as Aimed Shot crits returning focus. That has to be accounted for as well, but if we didn't have those, we would get the most DPS from having similar amounts (after adjusting for rating to percent increase ratios, and the stat's actual function for increasing damage) of Crit, MS, Versa and Mastery (assuming Sniper Training is up the entire fight).  

The problem with the default build on for MM hunters on SimC is that they've started you out stacked with crit; it's on nearly every piece of gear, and all enchants are crit enchants.  At that point, when you already have all of that crit gear, yes, 1 more MS rating will net you more dps than 1 more crit rating.   But if you switch the default build, and add in just a couple pieces that have MS already on them (I switched the helm and shoulders, but kept all the crit enchants), then run the sim, Crit will overtake MS in value again.  

This is going to be a continual problem in WoD.  While some specs/classes may still have a definitive stat priority, for MM hunters at least, most of the secondary stats will remain so similar in value that your goal will be finding the right balance of all  of them, instead of stacking all of one and none of the other. The exception may be mastery for heavy movement fights if you're playing MM, but in general, this should hold true through-out the xpac.  

If you're interested in more of the math behind this, check out Esoth's post on Versatility:  http://www.esoth.com/blog/versatility-and-its-relative-value

WoD: WoW Hunter Tools!

World of Warcraft hunter tools

In the wake of the news that we'll be losing the Female Dwarf hunter spreadsheets, I thought it might be prudent to start getting adjusted to some of the other amazing hunter tools that are out there. So, today we have a special guest here at the Thrill of the Wild.  A dedicated raider and hunter maths extraordinaire, Esoth has been playing his hunter since 2006, raiding since BC, and since Cataclysm been part of the highly esteemed guild, Something Wicked, who, despite a limited 3 days a week schedule, continuously manage to stay competitive on the national and international raiding scene.  Esoth has been a main stay of the Hunter forums on Elitist Jerks, and has been creating hunter spreadsheets since before I first logged into EJ.

For Warlords of Draenor, Esoth decided it was time to switch to a web app, and it has quickly become one of the more popular hunter tools on the web right now, so I asked him if he could give a quick overview of the tool, and how to utilize it.

Hello all! Delirium has asked me to give a sort of how-to on using my new hunter web app at http://www.wowhuntertools.com/hunter/ and I’m happy to oblige. First things first, please note that this is intended to match the current state of beta for Warlords of Draenor and will go forward from that. It does not and will not ever work with Mists of Pandaria mechanics. You can check the latest changes on /changelog. As always if something looks incorrect, feel free to tweet at me.

The bulk of the actual app part of the site is broken down into a set of tabs, the first of which is for inputting your data. There are two main ways of doing this: either filling out your stats/talents/weapon info, or entering your armory location and hitting the “Shoot” button. This will perform all sorts of calculations that you can now access. But first you should also note that there is a little section under the “Enter Stats” header called “Rotation options”. In this app, you don’t design a priority rotation from scratch. In my experience the priority choices have either been obvious or negligible. Rarely did it matter if you hit Black Arrow and then Dire Beast, or the other way around, in the long run. Instead I have opted to assume a reasonable rotation include a bunch of options to determine behavior. My plan is to add a lot more of these eventually – feedback is welcome here – while filtering out any options that just don’t look to ever be viable.

Now that you’ve hit the “Shoot” (my clever, hunter-themed version of “submit”) you can see calculations on other tabs. We start from the beginning – calculating your stats from the raw data you input, or we pulled from armory. There are notes about any buffs, food, flask, racials, etc. applied to each stat. “Spells/Abilities” goes a step further and calculates the values for each spell based on your stats and the particular mechanics of that spell. Hopefully this gives some insight into each of these spells about how to make them stronger.

The “Single Target” and “AoE” pages are probably most of interest to the average user here – it’s where all of these spells are put together to create that single metric everyone cares about the most: DPS. For each of these it gives a total number as well as a breakdown of each ability’s relative contribution. If you are interested in a more advanced diagnostic, click the View Model button to see how the rotation is actually modeled for your settings. Note that some states (like whether Bestial Wrath is active) will result in a damage change while active.

Hunter stat scaling
Finally, the scaling tab is available to calculate relative stat weights (i.e. is crit better than haste). I don’t recommend using this too often right now – it’s a very intensive process, because in order to get any meaningful metrics we need to run it with several different stat combinations. It literally takes 60 times as long to compute as your DPS! In the future we will probably have a good idea of how these stat values look for a given tier and be able to recommend stats through a blog post instead.


Hunters wanting to look more into their play and how their stats and abilities are working together should make sure you check out his site.  Any questions or comments can be sent to Esoth on twitter @Esoth, and you can also check out some great theorycrafting articles at his website/blog, at Esoth.com.

WoD: The Movement Skill Cap

While the numbers tuning is far from complete on the WoD beta, it's looking like there's a chance MM is going to come out on top of the hunter specs, with the most possible DPS.  There are certainly still a lot of issues with the way MM is set up rotationally, but at this point, it's seeming less and less likely that Blizzard is going to address those things.  So, I suppose it's time to start preparing for for the situation where, to be competitive in top tier raiding, we need to play MM.

Simply for the reason that hunters haven't had to think about movement for the last several patches, I would imagine that dealing with Marksmanship's Mastery is going to be the biggest change for a lot of hunters.  This has an added degree of difficulty, even compared to casters who can't cast on the move, because we don't have less powerful spells to time with movement phases.  For example, Boomkins can put up their dots while moving, and then when they get to a place they can stop, use their powerful direct spells.  For MM hunters, that won't be the case, because we'll have to stay still for 3 seconds before we the buff goes back up.

Another added skill cap we'll need to deal with is "down-time".  For all of MoP, no hunter specs have had down time; what I mean by that, is it's currently better to hit the wrong shot, than to delay briefly and hit the right shot.   For MM in WoD, that won't be the case.  With the various cast times of Steady Shot, Focusing Shot and Aimed Shot, you're going to have times where you've got a GCD or two before Chim Shot comes off CD, but not enough focus to cast and Aimed Shot, and not enough time to cast a Focusing Shot.

The solution to both is somewhat related, which is why I wanted to talk about these problems at the same time.

The thing is, there are inevitably going to be times when you need to move for more than three seconds. What we'll want to do in this situation, however, is make sure we time our shots accordingly.  We have six seconds after we start moving while our mastery buff will still be applied.  If you can get stopped again in three seconds, then you're good to go, no need to change your rotation.  If, however, you can't,  you'll want to time your movement so that six seconds after you've started moving, you're going to need to use steady/focusing shot.  These are the shots that will be the least effected by not having the mastery buff, so if you can make sure you're using them, when the buff is down, you can avoid the more substantial dps loss that comes from using Aimed Shot or Chim Shot while the buff isn't up.

The other great thing to use while the Sniper Training isn't up is of course, down-time.  If you're going to have to skip a GCD anyway, do it while your buff isn't up.  That might mean using the empty GCD right after Chim Shot, instead of right before, which will, admittedly, take a great deal of planning and practice.

Other, more minimal uses of the down-time / no Sniper Training time could include Tranq Shot or laying down traps or binding shot, and while not likely in raids, perhaps dismissing, healing or rezzing your pet.

Hunters have been asking for a way to differentiate really good play from average play, and this is definitely a way to do that, even if we aren't super excited about the way the mechanics are looking. This will mean a lot of planning ahead, and very close tracking of your focus and buffs, but if MM ends up the clear DPS spec of WoD, then mastering Sniper Training will be a significant part of top-end huntering.

A Farewell to Female Dwarf

From Zeherah on the FemaleDwarf.com:

It's been over 5 years since I started FemaleDwarf.com, and it's been a great experience for me. I've learned a lot from my work on the site, and I've greatly enjoyed being able to contribute to and participate in our wonderful hunter community. It's with a heavy heart that I announce I don't plan to update the site for the Warlords of Draenor expansion. I've greatly enjoyed my experience in WoW over these almost 10 years, but I'm not sure if I'll continue playing in the upcoming expansion, and I just can't make the time investment required to keep this site up to date with it.
When I started this site, hunter options for optimization and theorycrafting were a lot more limited. Simulationcraft is now a much more mature and easier to use tool. Esoth is now working on his own web based theorycraft tool at http://www.wowhuntertools.com/hunter/. Ask Mr Robot is a popular alternative option. I hope the hunter community will continue to be well served by these and any new tools that may come along in the future.
I want to thank all the people who've helped make the site a success over the years: the authors of the original hunter spreadsheets that the site was inspired by and based on, the hunter bloggers that helped get out the word about the site, the many hunter theorycrafters whose work has helped me keep the site up to date and accurate, the devs who've made a real effort in the last few years to engage the theorycrafting community and the player base at large, the volunteer translators that have helped make the site more useful to WoW players in many countries. I also must thank the many wonderful users of the site, some of whom have sent donations over the years, or have shared their stories with me of their experiences with the site, helped make suggestions for improvement or have offered to help in whatever way they could. The hunter community is full of great people that made me proud that I could do my bit to help.
- Zeherah of Stormrage
 I've spent a perhaps unreasonable amount of time using the Female Dwarf hunter web app, and will greatly miss everything Zeherah brought to the hunter community.  For anyone interested, here's an "interview" I did with Zeherah last spring.  Be sure to jump on twitter to let her know how much we've appreciated everything she's done: @Thefemaledwarf.

WoD Beta: The New Old SV and Barrage's Effects

I spent a while this evening working on the old new SV rotation which made it to the beta last night, as well as playing with the new barrage, thought I'd write up what I've noticed so far.

Here's roughly the damage my shots were doing at 660 ilvl and full buffs, and the following stats:
Agi-4314; RAP-4745; Haste-12.85%; Crit-29.92%; Mast-18.36; MS-14.83%; Versa-4.72.

Tick/HitCrit TickPer cast ave:
Explosive Shot3323.86616.814577.78
Black Arrow4077.48108.856562.50

And with Lone Wolf:

Tick/HitCrit TickPer cast ave:
Explosive Shot4470.99235.618917.54
Black Arrow5400.510602.683125.00

There are some unexplained anomalies with Barrage's numbers (could be that it's mistakenly benefiting from lone wolf, but I'm a bit too tired to put in any more time in Shattrath), but still, it's starting to sound like fun. However, it isn't exactly matching up when I play with the numbers. Looking at damage per focus, Barrage sits around 518 (or 819 if you use the LW parse), while arcane hits for only 386, though with TotH that jumps up to 1158.  If I average it out for TotH up-time (which I clocked at 44.8% over about half an hour), that gives me 732 damage per focus spent, which is considerably better than the expensive new Barrage.  

Glaives are looking to be the top choice again in WoD, at least for single target.  They're averaging around 963.5 damage per focus.  That cheap focus cost means there's never any need to think about focus, too.   And that's really what will make the difference in determining the viability of these two shots.  If Barrage was doing noticeably more damage than GT (after considering the focus cost and need for steady/cobra shots), then it'd definitely be worth dealing with the focus cost and cast time of Barrage.  As it is, a small mistake with barrage will cost you a lot of DPS (especially now that BA is so powerful), but there isn't really much to be gained, even if you can get off barrage without delaying ES or BA at all.   

Of course, these numbers will be more clear after I collect more data, and I'm sure they'll continue to adjust and tune the abilities as the beta continues, so take this all with a grain of salt; it all may be wrong, tomorrow.

WoD Beta: Long Weekends Focused on Fears

Yesterday I got to play with the latest WoD Beta build. However, since Blizzard "announced" the newest build features before the long weekend (for those of you not in the United States, for some inexplicable reason we celebrate a "labor day" in September instead of on the first of May like every other country) I've been spending too much time thinking about some of the hunter changes they've made, and it's got me a bit worried about some of the over-all changes coming in Warlords of Draenor.

To be specific, the change that comes to mind is the Lock and Load mechanic.  Unlike the majority of hunters out there (at least those I've talked to about it) I didn't hate the new (now old) LnL function, the one based on Black Arrow Multistrikes.  After playing the spec for quite a while on the beta, yeah, it was a bit clunky, but it wasn't terrible, and it was a little bit interesting, thinking about how it would change throughout the x-pac (a recurring problem for hunters over the years has been stat scaling, so this would have at the very least helped in that regard).  With that stated, there were obviously lots of problems with implementing that mechanic, and they ultimately decided it wasn't worth it.  So now, the problems with the MS based Lock and Load make me wonder if there's really a lot of hope for all of the new stats.

The last time Blizzard created a new stat for WoW, we had a fairly interesting stat in Mastery.  Sure, it needed several iterations to become interesting for all classes, and even now isn't the most interesting for every spec, but still, it represented what I would think of as an interesting new stat.  One of the reasons I think it fit into the game is even for the specs that have Mastery as their most important stat, the class isn't unplayable without it. Even now while leveling, Mastery represents something new and interesting when you get to the point that it exists.

This, however, is not the case with the new stats in Warlords.  In trying to make them interesting, they made the stats interact with game mechanics, and by doing that, they made the stats necessary before level 90. This is exemplified by the Lock and Load mechanic being based on multistrike: it's a fun idea, but it doesn't work holistically, when that means there is no LnL until end-game.  It would mean SV wouldn't be a whole spec until the mid-nineties, when you can start getting multiple pieces with MS on them.

Introducing several new stats, and trying to make them all interesting and a fluid part of game play is simply a  bigger task than Blizzard is up to right now. It's one of the problems with having a ten year old game and trying to keep it relevant. I really had high hopes for these new stats when they first displayed them in 5.4, and when they first really showed them off at Blizzcon last year. But at some point they've got to cut their losses, realize that they took on more than they can handle.

I'd like to think of myself as pretty open to change, I try not to freak out too much over every change, at least not without really giving it a try first. I would love to see Blizzard update the game and keep it relevant; I am not at all excited about recommending they take away anything that's even a little interesting. I just don't understand how they can think these hastily thrown together stats and mechanics are going to keep subscribers (not to mention bring in new subscribers).  They need to either implement them into the entire game, so they're important while levelling, doing end game PvE, and doing PvP, or they need to just cut their losses and drop the new stats, just like they did with Readiness.

/end rant