We welcome Blizzard Watch and Bendak‘s new Locked and Loaded Hunter Column.
Twice now in the last two weeks the Hunting Party Podcast crew has been asked to give their thoughts on Hunter mobility. Granted the question was posed by the same individual, but both were in very public settings. First on the Hunting Party Podcast, and then on the Realm Maintenance Podcast.
I’ve been thinking about it a little and wanted to share some additional thoughts on the topic. In what will come as a surprise to no one, I’m fine with the current state of Hunter mobility. Yes, it’s quite good, although I would point out that Focusing Shot is the only thing keeping us from achieving a state of mobile perfection.
Given that we were asked the question, I can only assume that there is a bit of envy aimed towards Hunters that stretches beyond the norm. Uncommonly good looking, top DPS, great at soloing. The list of reasons why a lesser class would want to prostrate themselves before a Hunter is long indeed, but our mobility seems to be what’s turning heads these days.
So how good is Hunter movement? It’s really darn good, but not necessarily for the reasons you’d think. My guess, and it’s truly a guess, is that much of the angst surrounding Hunter mobility stems from a belief that Hunters have a lot of abilities they can fire on the move, that if they belonged to another ranged class they would not be able to use them while moving.
That simply isn’t true. What makes Hunters great on the move is the large number of instant cast abilities that we have in our toolkit.
Look at Beast Mastery and Survival they both have one casted ability that’s a permanent fixture in their rotations, and that’s Cobra Shot. Barrage is optional, and best saved for heavy AoE situations, which do exist. Outside of that one talent, there are no other casted abilities for Beast Mastery and Survival.
Marksmanship on the other has Steady Shot and Aimed Shot as mainstay abilities. Barrage is optional, but yes there are times where Marksmanship will have three abilities that defy the standard rules of what a class can cast while moving.
Here’s the thing with Marksmanship though, they are discouraged from moving because of Sniper Training. If a Marksmanship Hunter chooses to hop around like a Kangaroo on emphetamines, they’ll do so at the expense of their DPS.
There’s no question that Hunters have amazing mobility, and even they made it so we could not cast non-instant abilities while moving, we’d still have it pretty good. Why the other ranged classes don’t have similar capability is something I cannot answer. I do spend a fair bit of time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. You know, WoW with lightsabers?
Unlike WoW, I like to play a variety of ranged DPS, none of which have the free range of movement that my Hunter does. In the just released Shadow of Revan expansion, BioWare took the time to mitigate some of the movement problems that exist for their ranged classes. Nothing like we have with Hunters, but greatly improved nonetheless.
My Bounty Hunter has a “talent” that allows him to fire a channeled ability while moving. He also has shot that does damage, and makes the next Tracer Missile (a casted ability) instant. He also has another ability that will make the next two Tracer Missiles instant. So in a typical boss fight there are times where I’ll be locked in place and other moments where I can move and DPS freely. I find it’s nice balance from just being a human turret.
Perhaps WoW can do something similar for Warlocks, Mages, Druids and Shaman. In the meantime if you don’t want to wait until Blizzard changes your class, you can always roll a Hunter.
I was thinking about pets over the weekend, and I find them to be in a curious place right now. If you think about it, the system is perfect, and yet something about it doesn’t feel quite right.
In Mists of Pandaria pets were changed to bring raid buffs/debuffs and utility, although some were restricted to exotic pets. This was normalized in Warlords of Draenor and both exotic and normal pets can provide everything. You no longer have to be Beast Mastery if you want to provide combat resurrection services. I charge my raid a nominal fee for this service.
All pets can be Tenacity (i.e., tanks), or Ferocity (i.e., DPS), or whatever it is that Cunning pets do.
We no longer need to feed pets or keep them happy so that they maintain their high level of DPS, and don’t run away.
We have 50 stable slots, and even the with influx of new pets in Warlords of Draenor there is still adequate room to bring new favorites into the fold.
As I said, pets are in a perfect place right now. Too perfect, and therein lies the problem. We’ve reached the point where a Hunter can bring any pet to a raid that they want, and it just seems boring.
Now I understand that for PvP and soloing the choices you make in pets have some meaning, but for raids it usually doesn’t matter. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that Lone Wolf remains the talent of choice for most Hunters.
Our pets can do everything, but in many circumstances Hunters don’t even use one. Flexible raid sizes have also diminished the importance of pets as all the buffs/debuffs and utility are often covered by other classes. Unless the raid size is small and composition unbalanced, there is rarely a need to bring a specific pet.
This is the crux of the problem. Blizzard has made pets incredibly useful, and not just for Hunters, but for everyone in the group. They’ve also made them incredibly redundant, and thus useless.
We want to be the spatula that no one thought bring at that barbecue, but everything is a catered event now, and no one needs a spatula.
Even the buffs from Lone Wolf aren’t needed that often, and because it’s such a great talent, we don’t even see pets in raids.
I think this had led Hunters to think less about pets this expansion. I hardly check my stable anymore before raid to ensure that I bring a good mix with me, because I know it won’t matter.
Perhaps we’ll find some salvation in 6.1. The buff to Stampede will ensure that there are situations where we’ll see Hunter pets running around, even if you have Lone Wolf. There are encounters in Blackrock Foundry where Beast Cleave will dominate and you’ll want play as Beast Mastery.
Not much can be done about the redundancy of the buffs and debuffs, and quite frankly I don’t like being locked into having to bring a specific pet all of the time. What would really be nice is if Exotic Munitions were brought in-line with Lone Wolf and became an option for PvE. Then at least you’d see Hunters bringing out pets in raids, and maybe, just maybe, they’d starting caring about who to bring.
This week Darkbrew, Solarflair, Delirium and Bendak discuss Hunter changes coming in Patch 6.1. We review the talents, discuss the tier set bonuses and give you guidance on what specs and talents you’ll want to pickup when 6.1 goes live.
Blackrock Foundry opens up on Tuesday, ahead of Patch 6.1, so you’ll want to keep doing what you’re doing until 6.1 arrives.
RogerBrown from Method joins us this week on the Hunting Party Podcast. Darkbrew, Artemishowl, Delirium and Bendak talk to RogerBrown on a variety of topics including the Highmaul race to first, what spec he’s playing, the upcoming Blackrock Foundry raid, and changes coming in patch 6.1.
New Podcast Episode
A reminder to everyone that we have a new podcast episode scheduled for this weekend. Episode 210 won’t have any guests, but Solar should be back, and the rest of the hosts will be there too. Our technical guru, Synthparadox, is out of town, so I’ll be handling all of the pyrotechnics on Sunday. Remember when we used to have all those technical glitches in past years?
There’s plenty to discuss this week. Blackrock Foundry opens on Tuesday, and there are a host of talent changes for Hunters. We’ll fill you in on what all of that means on Sunday.
See you at 10:00 am Eastern on Twitch.tv.
I’m getting a new PC! It’s expected to ship on February 5th, so hopefully I’ll have it in hand before Tuesday’s raid the the following week. I’m a little less excited about this then I ought to be. I’ll be ecstatic when it arrives and I power it on, but I wasn’t planning on getting a PC this year.
In November my video card died. I had an NVIDIA GTX 570. I replaced it with an NVIDIA 970 GTX. It ran great, and then it too died. Ouch! I did what I could to try and identify a root cause of the problem, but in end I opted to bite the bullet and order a new computer.
Some of the specs on the new machine include,
- Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0 GHz 8 MB Intel Smart Cache processor.
- 256 GB SSD + 2TB SATA Hard Drive Combo.
- 8GB DDR-3/2133MHz memory.
- 800 Watts Power Supply.
- NVIDIA GTX 970 4GB video card.
It’s a nice upgrade over what I have now, and in theory it will be working when I get it.
I joined a new guild last night. It’s not entirely new, as there are about half a dozen players with whom I’ve known and played with for many years now. Some going as far back as Burning Crusade. I hated leaving, but we just weren’t progressing in Highmaul. My progression looks like this, nine Kargath, four Butcher and two Twins kills. That’s it, and everything else has been a struggle to make any headway. In fact, we spent most of the night wiping on Twins despite having killed them the last two weeks.
The only saving grace from this week was I coined a helmet off of Butcher and I registered my 15th heroic kill. That means my Highmaul missions will now reward Mythic gear. I had to DE a heroic Scales of Doom last week. Sad times indeed.
The new guild has most of heroic on farm and are working on Imperator Mar’gok. They’ll probably start on Blackrock Foundry next week too.
I’m looking forward to the fresh start.
Patch 6.1 is on the PTR, and there are changes for Hunters. Mostly the good the kind. I have to say, I don’t recall seeing this much class iteration during an expansion. Usually there is the big nerf shortly after release, and then things stabilize until there is a tier change. Even then it’s just a small turning of the knob to adjust for stat changes.
This time we’re getting changes that affect which talents we choose, alter our rotations, and even change which spec we think we should play. The focus thus far in Patch 6.1 are talents. Take a look.
- Barrage damage has been increased by 21%.
- Exhilaration now instantly heals for 30% of max health (up from 22%).
- Glaive Toss damage has been increased by 25%.
- Powershot damage has been increased by 62%.
- Stampede now lasts 40 seconds (up from 20 seconds).
The two that are garnering the most attention are Powershot and Stampede. When it comes to PvE Powershot has long been an after thought. A non contender. The damage was never bad, but it was also never as good a Glaive Toss or Barrage. The knock back effect (immune on bosses) was also another reason never to bother with it in PvE.
The damage boost is clearly an attempt to make that tier looks as if it has three competitive choices. Given that Barrage and Glaive toss were also buffed, I’m not sure that we’ll want to take Powershot for raids. Blackrock Foundry (BRF) has enough AoE situations that Barrage will probably be the mainstay for all three specs. Yes, despite the Focus cost, I think Survival will benefit from taking this talent over Glaive Toss.
The buff to Stampede is significant, and we should see it make an appearance in BRF. It will benefit Beast Mastery more than others, but with a 40 second duration I’m sure we’ll find situations where this is the go to talent over A Murder of Crows.
I haven’t researched the encounters in BRF enough to provide you any guidance on where you might use it. Consider that homework for the podcast this week. And by homework, I mean something I’ll ask everyone else :p
- Trap Mastery no longer reduces the cooldown of all traps and Black Arrow by 6 seconds.
- Black Arrow now has a cooldown of 24 seconds (down from 30 seconds).
- Enhanced Traps now reduces the cooldown on all traps by 33% (down from 50%).
Survival has been everyone’s darling in recent weeks, and it’s the only spec that’s undergoing direct changes. Traps are getting nerfed.
The big PvE impact is Explosive Trap, and while you may wish to toss one out during a boss fight, you’ll be able to do it less often. Black Arrow’s cooldown is getting adjusted to compensate, but traps in general are getting a little less useful.
- Basilisks now have a pet family ability. Stone Scales reduces damage taken by the pet. Previously, Basilisks did not have a pet family ability.
- Hydra pets should no longer be excessively large.
- Spirit Beast’s Spirit Beast Blessing now also provides a 5% increase to critical strike chance. Does not stack with other critical strike chance buffs. Previously, other exotic pet families provided buffs to 2 stats while Spirit Beasts provided only 1.
Finally there are a few adjustments to Hunter pets. If you use Basilisks or Spirit Beasts then hooray. If you use Hydras then boo.
I realized that I published Episode 209 of the podcast everywhere but here. For consistency’s stake I’ll do a separate post later, but 209 was a great show. A big thanks to special guest RogerBrown, and a warm welcome back to ArtemisHowl. We discussed many things on the show, but nothing was better than listening to those two talk about what it was like to participate in the Highmaul race for World First.
Episode 210 is currently planned for Sunday, February 1st at 10:00 am Eastern.
PTR 6.1 Build 19508
Patch 6.1 is in full swing on the PTR. They released some class tuning changes, but nothing much for Hunters. If you saw the patch notes on MMO-Champion, they were all tooltip changes, except for maybe Barrage, and it’s not clear if it was buffed, nerfed or stayed the same.
We’re still early in the patch cycle so there may yet be some real Hunter changes.
In more personal news, my three year old PC is dying a slow death. Back in November my GPU died and I replaced my dead NVIDIA GTX 570 with a honking GTX 970. Sadly it now appears to be on life support. I suffered a couple of severe BSODs this week. In both cases my PC recovered just fine upon reboot. Last night, however, I was greeted with a single monitor, grainy 800 x 600 resolution after boot up. The system still recognized the graphics card, but disabled it with a code 43.
I figured the problem was either the card, the PCIE slot or the power supply unit (PSU). I tried putting the card in a different slot, but that only made things worse. I tried using different power cables from the PSU, but that didn’t help either. I finally cannibalized an NVIDIA GTX 560 from a much older PC. It is that ancient piece of hardware that is allowing me to write this post.
I’m not sure what my next step will be. What I do know is my system has fried one GPU, and possibly a second in short amount of time, so a dead GPU may be the symptom of a larger problem. I’ll be curious to see how this one holds up, although I hope to have a permanent resolution before I have time to find out.
Around three o’clock in the afternoon the doorbell rang. My wife and I ran to the door and opened it. The delivery man was gone, but sitting on the front porch was a curious box addressed to me. I bent down to examine it. I pointed to one of the words written on the package – “FRAG-EE-LAY. It must be Italian.”, I said.
I tore through box and all of it’s packaging eventually unearthing a glorious orc riding on his trusty worg. What a great way to symbolize this amazing 10-year ride. Thank you Blizzard!
Now the battle with my wife begins to find a place of prominence in our home for this glorious gift.
In case you missed it Beast Mastery got buffed this week.
- Mastery: Master of Beasts’ effects have been increased by 12.5%.
There was also a change to Haste that benefits all classes.
- The Haste stat is now 11.1% more effective. For example, characters at level 100 now receive a 1% increase per 90 Haste (up from 1% per 100 Haste).
The big boost to Beast Mastery is of course the Mastery change, but the Haste boost doesn’t hurt.
All Hunter specs are in a good place right now, and the buff doesn’t make BM all powerful, although it does it make the best Hunter spec for AoE by far. This is not insignificant as a number of the encounters in Blackrock Foundry require good AoE DPS. Even though it many not be the top single target spec, you’ll probably be utilizing it on many encounters in the next raid.
One other thing to note is this makes Mastery a more powerful stat for Beast Mastery, but I don’t know if it becomes the number one secondary stat, so don’t dump that Multistrike just yet.
We do have a podcast this week, so be sure tune in as we sort all of this out with entire gang and special guest RogerBrown.