Tranq Shot Changes

The latest ptr patch notes for 6.2 included a change to Tranq Shot, which was somewhat expected, given the huge change they recently made to it in the live game.

Tranquilizing Shot has switched functionality with Glyph of Tranquilizing Shot. Tranquilizing Shot no longer costs Focus but has a 10-second cooldown.

Glyph of Tranquilizing Shot has switched functionality with Tranquilizing Shot. Glyph of Tranquilizing Shot causes Tranquilizing Shot to cost 40 Focus instead of a 10-second cooldown.

For those unfamiliar, just a few weeks ago, Tranq Shot was changed in the live game to cost a fairly ridiculous 50 focus.  This change came in response to complaints about Beast Mastery PvP.  I had a chance to talk about it with multi-gladiator, Dillypoo just the other day.  This was his explanation (before the 6.2 change was announced):

Basically for BM hunters tranq shot was problematic due to the fact that outside of your burst with BM Crows and Barrage (with 5 stacks focus fire) you don't really have much to do in terms of keeping up pressure.  Since your sustained [damage] is in your pet mostly, spamming tranq shots is more efficient than your entire rotation. Outside of that with bestial wrath up it lowered the cost of tranq by half, so 10 focus tranqs were extremely powerful. Fighting a resto druid healer BM hunters could just crows and BW and spam tranq and the druid could not heal through the damage in any way whatsoever, due to their hots being removed so rapidly.  
However this was a BM specific issue, as the other specs still needed to keep up their rotations in pvp: Marksman needed to focus Aimed Shot spam to keep Rapid Fire's cd short for their 4piece, and Survival has an extremely focus demanding rotation, so tranq spam only happened as BM. The only other class that really has a better time spamming purge in PvP is enhance shamans (whose purge didn't get changed) due to the fact that they don't really do damage either, and are mainly just utility bots with off-healing, shears, and groundings, as well as being very tanky, leaving their purge spams as their form of effective damage. Since almost every healer gets effected by magic buff removal (monks enveloping, priest shields, druid hots, Hpal Bops/sac as well as pally freedom), they just end up being annoying by spamming that one button with no cost. 
I saw a lot of hunter rejoicing when they saw the original 6.2 patchnotes, as they included some PvP only changes, in the form of Barrage only doing 80% its normal damage against players, and a Murder of Crows also only doing 80% it's normal damage against players.  Many thought we had finally seen the day come when PvE would no longer be nerfed because they couldn't balance PvP. It seems now, we were all a bit too quick to proclaim victory, as this is not just a PvP change affecting PvE, but an ability which was only powerful for a single spec being nerfed for all of the specs, in both PvP and PvE.

Reasonable Nerfs

I have no intention of writing about this without saying that BM hunters don't need nerfs.  I think in both PvE and PvP they're tuned a little bit too high.  In PvE, it's simply a damage out-put issue.  In PvP, it all seems to stem from Adaptation making pet damage a much, much higher percentage of our overall damage.  Unfortunately, the newest iteration of Tranq Shot does little to address either of these issues.

The biggest obstacle in balancing this ability (when thinking about the ability in a vacuum, so to speak), is that during BM's largest cooldown, focus costs are cut in half.  So a reasonable person might think that would be the place to start changing the ability. From the conversation I had with Dilly:
Realistically their change was gone about the wrong way for hunters. It would have been more realistic to make tranq shot no longer effected by BW's focus reduction, and made tranq cost maybe 25-30 focus for BM only. But the way they went about the change really only hurt the other specs more than BM.
 The new change has the same effect, in that if you put on the glyph, and use it during Bestial Wrath, you'll be able to shoot off 5 or 6 Tranq Shots with no problem.  Still, that wouldn't even be a useful tactic if the vast majority of BM's damage weren't coming passively from pets.  If Arcane Shot were worth using, we'd see hunters using it instead of tranq shot.

I'm going to reiterate that in bold, for dramatic effect:

This problem cannot be solved by changes to Tranq Shot. It will only be solved by removing passive damage and adding enough active damage that we'd rather use that than Tranq Shot in most situations.

Since it doesn't seem like we're going to see the root issue resolved any time soon, I thought I might offer up some alternative ideas for Tranq Shot:
  1. The simplest solution was offered by Dilly above: "Tranquilizing Shot is no longer effected by Bestial Wrath's focus reduction".  In PvE, you'll almost never see a BM hunter using Tranq Shot during BW anyway, so I can't imagine any complaints there, and in PvP, it will provide the nerf they were looking for.
  2. As I mentioned above, PvE hunters were ecstatic to learn that there would be separate PvP and PvE spell information, to tune the two types of gameplay on their own.  Since we already know the technology exists, why not use it here?  "When Tranquilizing Shot is used against player characters, it triggers a 10 second cool down."  This has the pleasant effect of not nerfing hunters in challenge modes, or on the occasion that we can help our raid by using Tranq Shot.  
  3. "Tranquilizing Shot no longer removes Heal over Time effects".  If the RP function of a Tranq Shot is to calm down your target, then it could only work against empowering type magic effects with no problem, which seems to be more in line with the original intent of the ability.  
Anyhow, there are plenty of options, which I'm sure anyone reading this could think of.  Truth be told, I'm not outraged by tonight's announced change.  That is, I'm more annoyed that they're addressing the wrong problem, than with the solution they came up with.  

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