6.2 Patch Notes Follow-up

It was pointed out to me, that my rant yesterday didn't include as much math as I normally would, so I thought I'd dig into the changes a bit deeper.  To do so, I'm going to use the same single target fight I looked at yesterday, since we've already done some of the work with it.

As was shown, we'd be looking at doing a total of 84 ticks of serpent sting under the new mechanic, as opposed to the 235 ticks on live.  But there are some other things that will curb that loss. Mainly, the mastery buff.

If I go through all of the shots that are affected by SV's mastery, I can fairly easily readjust how much damage would have been done with the increased mastery. (On a mostly separate topic, I often forget about how amazing the commutative and associative properties of multiplication are.  I mean, I'll even question whether they're still true or not, as though perhaps math has changed since the last spreadsheet I got.  Fortunately, they still work.  Thank the math gods).  The individual abilities would look like this:

Ability w/ 0 Mastery Old Mast New Mast
Serpent Sting 8295.7 10374.1 10768.95
Arcane Shot 13107.2 16391.2 17015.07
Black Arrow 8209.5 10266.3 10657.05
Explosive Shot 6164.4 7708.8 *6958.44

*Note that I also included the 15% nerf to Explosive Shot.

After looking at by how much each ability is affected, we can use the same percent to affect the totals, giving us a new total damage, and therefor a new DPS.  What we get for the log pictured above, is about a 3.8% increase in damage to Serpent Sting, Arcane Shot and Black Arrow, and a 10.8% nerf to Explosive Shot (the reason ES looks funny, is when blizzard says "15% less", they mean the damage done divided by 1.15, not the damage done multiplied by 1 minus .15).  It's worth mentioning, I suppose, that these numbers are particular to the individual hunter in these logs.  As many hunters will have different amounts of mastery, the increase in mastery's effectiveness will affect them differently.

The changes to total damage done by these abilities will then look like this:

Ability  Old  New
Serpent Sting 2440k 904k
Arcane Shot 1460k 1516k
Black Arrow 1030k 1069k
Explosive Shot 1710k 1544k

The total of 9.88 million damage has gone down to about 8.27 million, a total loss of 6,354 DPS, which is, for those not wanting to do the math in their heads, a 19.4% nerf overall.  

Of course, this doesn't mean we're getting a (almost) 20% nerf to our damage.  Our stat priorities will change, and our rotation will change, so that we can better utilize the new mechanics.  However, adjusting playstyle will no come anywhere close to making up for the huge nerf.  

As I mentioned yesterday, this is still very early in the testing process, hopefully Blizzard either didn't realize how huge the serpent sting change was, or even better, they have a plan for something even more awesome that they just haven't added yet, which will bring SV hunters back up to their rightful place as glorious Damage Dealers. 

6.2 and the Nerf Bat

Yesterday, we got our first look at datamining and PTR patchnotes for patch 6.2.  This included some fairly substantial changes for hunters, including the loss of Aspect of the Fox, and some minor tweaks for MM and BM (MM had Aimed Shot buffed, BM had its mastery buffed, as well as kill command).

Survival, on the other hand, saw some minor changes, and on huge nerf.  On the small adjustment side, we'll be seeing a nerf to explosive shot, with a buff to SV's Mastery.  Overall, that should end up being a buff to SV single target and multi-target DPS.  The other change, however, is much, much larger than it appears.

Serpent Sting no longer deals an initial "tick" of damage when the periodic effect is first applied.

That doesn't sound huge, but if you've been following the SV hunter mechanics this xpac, it's going to equate to a huge DPS nerf.

To explain why, it's important to understand why SV hunters are so madly in-love with the multistrike stat.  While yes, the actual multistrikes do more damage for us as it's our attunement stat, and we get a little bit more of the stat when it's on our gear.  However, those amount to a relatively small amount of DPS, compared to the primary purpose of Multistrike for SV hunters: when Arcane or Multishot multistrikes, it applies an additional tick of Serpent Sting damage.

Without an "initial tick" of serpent sting, the most ticks of serpent sting damage we'll ever be N*T/3 (where N is the number of targets, and T is the average time the targets are alive in seconds).  For an example, this is a friend of mine's combat log from heroic Gruul the other day.

As you see, he had 235 ticks of Serpent Sting, for a total of 2.44 million damage.  Had this same fight included the new 6.2 Serpent Sting mechanic, the most he could have done is the duration of the fight divided by 3 (that is, one tick every three seconds).  At four minutes and thirteen seconds, that would have been a maximum of 84 ticks of serpent sting (253/3), A little arithmetic tells us that he'd be missing out on 64.3% of that total Serpent Sting damage, so instead of doing 2.44 million damage, it would have only done 871K damage.

That's a loss of 6,197 dps total over the course of the fight.  In a fight where he had 39k dps, that's about a 16% nerf.  And, that's for a pure single target fight, where this nerf will affect us the least.

AoE Aftershocks

In AoE fights with fast spawning and dying adds, there will be little reason to even both with Mulstishot.  If adds will be alive for longer, it will still be worthwhile to multishot once, to see that everything has a serpent sting DoT on it, but after there, you won't be using multishot again for fifteen seconds, unless you're dealing with just insane numbers of adds.

Let's look back to my friend's log. I took his log from Operator Thogar run some basic arithmetic on, since that fight includes a good mix of AoE and Single Target.  For this fight, each of his Multi-Shots (which doesn't include the damage from serpent sting) averaged 2,567 damage per target (not including Crits or Multistrikes, which should effect both abilities similarly). His Arcane Shots, on the other hand, averaged 10,351 damage per hit (again, without crits or multistrikes).   That means, after applying your initial Multishot to apply Serpent Sting, you'll need to be facing more than four targets before there's any reason to use your AoE ability.  (It's worth noting here, that this isn't even including the additional damage we'll get from Arcane Shot due to the Mastery buff).

The moral of the story, is even Marksmanship will have stronger burst AoE than Survival in 6.2.

Make Sure Your Harness is Secure

Odd that just the day before this was all announced, we were on the Hunting Party Podcast, talking about how amazing it was that all three specs were so well balanced, and had such similar potential for DPS (at least in single target scenarios).  Should have known that would mean changes weren't far away.  I never would have guessed they were planning on buffing the already strongest spec we had, and nerfing our lowest performing spec.

As Bendak mentioned last night, it's time for another round on the hunter-balancing roller coaster.  I can't imagine that Blizzard would leave SV hunters so severely gimped, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more patchnotes or PTR releases.   

I've heard several hunters mention that maybe blizzard didn't know that Survival's Multistrike was "double dipping".  If true, that would, for one, be pretty embarrassing, but would make the nerf more understandable, as they had announced before that they didn't want the mechanics working that way.  Still, even if it was a mistake/bug, it was the only thing keeping Survival competitive.

I'd assume we're about to find out they have more reasonable changes planned, or at least, I'm hopeful that that's the case.  Until then, I'm gonna go play some more Skyrim... :-)

Hunting Party Podcast Ep. 215

The hunting party podcast ran a bit short on hosts yesterday; so Alisaunder stepped up to help out, and RogerBrown of Method joined us.  I was a bit nervous to do the show without the folks who usually direct most of the conversation, but it turned out to be a lot of fun, and the three of us actually ended up continuing in skype for a few hours after the show was over, discussing some pretty random topics: typical things like writing hunter guides and beer choices, and less typical things like European geography and ancient Greek mythology.

Next show will be on the 26th of April, at 1pm Central.  Hopefully we'll have the entire crew back.