Cataclysm Hunter Changes

I’m going to assume that you’ve seen the hunter changes, if not here’s as good a link as any to what’s coming our way in Cataclysm –

With that out of the way, grab a bowl of Swedish Meatballs and a pint of Raven Beer (make that two, this is going to be a long post, I  think) and join me as I dive into the bevy of hunter news that Blizzard sent our way today. Everything thing we know is about to change, and mostly for the better I think. Ammo, clunky traps, leveling without a pet, to quoth the raven, “Nevermore”.

Let’s start with the easy stuff, you know the changes that we can all agree are good and a long time coming.

Moar Pets! – Bigger stables, more pets, hunter’s leveling with a pet from day one; fantastic! I just leveled a hunter from 1-10 for the WHU raid and let me tell you even when you know what you’re doing it still sucks. Getting a pet right out of the gate, along with range abilities is a wonderful change.

Ammo and Quivers – I know a lot people were looking forward to non-consumable ammo, but I think Blizzard made the right decision here to remove it completely. Honestly, what would they have done beside buffs, debuffs, etc. It would’ve overlapped with stings, traps, and pets and would’ve led to more “Oh crap, I had the wrong ammo equipped for that fight” moments. I’m glad to see it gone.

Quivers converted into large bags? Nothing but win here. I just hope I still have one in my bank, if not, it’s time to get one.

Sting and Periodic Effects – They will crit and benefit from haste. Simply put, get four pieces of T10 before Cataclysm hits. I don’t know if the T9 bonus will get updated (I presume it will), but still T10 will be the way to go. This is a great change.

New Hunter Abilities

Cobra Shot will be available to all hunters at level 81 and it will have a cast time like Steady Shot. BM hunters will be given incentive to use this over Steady Shot, and it looks like it will become their signature shot. It will do nature damage and increase focus. BM hunters really needed a shot of their own, although I think I would’ve preferred Raccoon Shot over this.

Trap Launcher (level 83) – I guess freezing arrow was such a success Blizzard decided to give this ability to all traps. Sarcasm aside, this might work better for PvP then it will for PvE. It sounds like a cool ability, we’ll have to see how it plays out.

Camouflage (level 85) – Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well back in Wrath of the Lick King beta this ability was actually planned for hunters. It was going to be a stealth ability and was ditched because it infringed too much on Rogue’s territory. Now it’s back and re-designed. Instead of stealth it’ll be more like a “shimmering PREADATORy” effect. Okay, if it also comes with a “Get to da choppa” emote, then I’m in.

I’m a little on the fence with this ability. Again it sounds neat, but it also sounds like another thing we need to do right before combat starts. Hunter’s Mark, Misdirect and now Camouflage. It’s possible that the damage benefit will force us to work this into the normal shot rotation. We’ll see, but I’m not 100% on board with this one yet.


Okay it’s time to talk about the 800 lb gorilla/Elephant in the room party that’s happening here. I’m on the wait and see bandwagon here, although I’ve seen reactions that have been both positive and negative. To me this represents a major paradigm shift in how we play our hunters. Whether it’s good or bad, I don’t know.

Currently we have a priority based system where we watch our cool downs and fire the highest damaging shot that’s available with little or no regard to how much mana it’s costing.

With focus we’re moving to a resource management system whereby firing the highest damaging shot may not be the best option. We’ll have to plan our shots based on how much focus we have and how much focus we’ll lose. Not only that, but we’ll have to take into consideration everything that might be coming up, or could happen to us in an encounter. In other words we’ll want to make sure we have enough focus to do other things besides just dps.

It’s going to be a big, big learning curve. We know we’ll have 100 focus max, but what we don’t know yet is how much focus our shots will cost, as well as what the cool downs on our abilities are going to be. For example, will Chimera and Aimed shots still have long cool downs or will they be shortened for this new resource system?

There is a lot of critical information that we don’t know yet. Therefore I remain a little cautious and nervous about hunters gaining focus. A beta invite will go a long way to making feel less nervous though 😉 .


It looks like pets are getting normalized in terms of the damage they do. They’re now going to get abilities that are similar to the buffs and debuffs provided by other classes. If these abilities stack with their class counterparts then great, otherwise this may be less valuable in 25-man raids, but could work out okay in 10-man raids. I personally would rather see them be as good as their class counterparts and then see how it shakes out.

Talents and Mastery System

It looks like Beast Masters will have great pet damage, and great focus regen with the emphasis on haste. If their damage is comparable to the other trees this might be the way to go when this system goes live. In fact I’ll probably go BM for no other reason than I’ll lose less dps while trying to figure out how this all works.

Marksman will still be based around Armor Pen. and physical dps. It look like they’re getting something called double-shot which looks like a type of Lock and Load. I’ll be curious to see how often we get the double-shot during combat.

Survival hunters will be masters of elemental damage (fire, nature, shadow, etc.) This isn’t all that different from how they are now.

All in all, I’m excited about what’s coming our way. I love the “quality of life” changes, but I remain a bit skeptical about focus. While I agree that mana does not makes sense for hunters, I have no issue with how hunter’s function. Focus is changing that, and not in a small way.

One comment

  1. An excellent recap. Here are my thoughts:

    Ammo and quivers – More convenience, but less opportunity to screw up (or to excel as a good player). They could have done so much more, but it's still an improvement over the current system.

    DoTs innately affected by crit and haste – Pure win.

    Cobra Shot – This needs a lot of clarification before I can be convinced that this "signature shot" which generates focus instead of costing focus won't simply be the only shot in the BM priority.

    Trap Launcher – I'm going to predict an "Improved Trap Launcher" talent for SV that reduces its cooldown back to the 30 seconds that we're used to for Freezing Arrow.

    Camouflage – Yeah yeah, all the PvP debates can happen. The real question is how bad-ass will our already-cool pets look with the predator effect?

    Focus – You and I are on the exact same page on this. One added concern is about focus regen in PvP (i.e. no steady shots), so I am confident there will be other effective means to gain focus back as well.

    Haste – Haste is going to change our shot rotation, and thus effect its own break-points in gear/gems/enchants/buffs/etc. I am envisioning all the complexity of Armor Pen gemming with an added layer in the form of dynamically changing rotations. In other words "should I gem ArP?" questions are turning into "should I gem haste?" only with no universally correct answer. *headache*

    Pet Normalization – I guess we all knew this was coming. If they're handing out raid buffs to pets, then I want one with Bloodlust.

    Double-Shot – To me this sounds less like a mini Lock-and-Load and more like a built-in Zod's proc. 50% weapon damage sounds like MM is again the spec with the clear reliance on the damage of the ranged weapon.

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