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Aspects in Warlords of Draenor

I recently plunged the depths of the Internet reading various blogs, forum posts, and comments, and there seems to be some misconception on Hunter Aspects in Warlords of Draenor, especially in light of the new Aspect of the Fox. Let’s clear things up shall we?

Aspects are gone… Sort of

Let’s start with the patch notes which talks about the removal of Hunter Aspects in Warlords of Draenor.

 Beta Patch Notes

One of the most difficult abilities to decide to cut was Aspect of the Hawk. It began to feel fairly meaningless, since it was used virtually all of the time in combat, so might as well have just been passive. We decided to cut Aspect of the Hawk, and bake in its benefit to the other abilities. The remaining aspect abilities are all utility only, and are being moved off the stance bar and made toggles.

  • Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack both now share a 10-second cooldown and no longer appears on the stance bar.
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Beast: The ability taught by this Glyph no longer appears on the stance bar and is now on the global cooldown.
  • Aspect of the Hawk has been removed. Aspect of the Iron Hawk has been renamed to Iron Hawk, and now passively provides a 10% reduction to all damage taken.
  • Aspect of the Fox: Party and raid members within 40 yards take on the aspects of a fox, allowing them to move while casting all spells for 6 seconds. Only one Aspect can be active at a time. 3 minute cooldown.

 

The key takeaways are there is no more Aspect of the Hawk or Aspect of the Iron Hawk. Iron Hawk is a talent that when taken provides a passive 10% damage reduction. You don’t need to turn it on, and you can’t turn it off.

The damage increase from Aspect of the Hawk has been automagically baked into Hunters.

As the patch notes state, Aspects are now utility only and do not impact Hunter DPS.

You Can’t Dance if You Want to

Okay, so since we still have Aspects that does mean we still have Aspect dancing?

Currently in Mists of Pandaria there is no Aspect Dancing as the only things to toggle between are Hawk, Cheetah and Pack. Not something you’re likely to do in combat.

In Warlords there is no Aspect of the Hawk so the only one you’re really going to activate in combat is the new Aspect of the Fox.

The only other Aspects you could toggle into are Cheetah, Pack and Beast. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you felt like messing around with Glyph of Aspects, and wanted to summon a new animal companion every second. You can’t.

Aspects are now all linked together and they trigger a 10 second cooldown when activated.

There’s no need to Aspect dance in s, and you can’t to boot.

Aspect of the Fox, What’s in it for Me?

One of the complaints about Aspect of the Fox is that it does not benefit the Hunter since we can fire most of our shots while moving.

Blizzard has categorize this as a raid utility, meaning it’s intended to help your raid down bosses.

Raiding is a team effort. If you cast Aspect of the Fox, and it helps your raid defeat the boss, then you’ve just benefited from this ability.

Even if that’s all that was in it for you that would be okay, but as Bendak pointed out in this post, it’s not.  I’ve included his great Aspect of the Fox video at the end of this post, and the featured image of this post is the pinnacle of awesome that he demonstrates with this ability.

What About DPS Scaling?

Traditionally Hunters have suffered from poor secondary stat scaling and Beast Mastery and Survival have benefited less from superior weapons due to key spells not using weapon damage.

Buffing Aspect of the Hawk was a nice band aid fix to adjust Hunter DPS as expansions wore on. It most recently happened in a 5.4 hotfix.

I honestly don’t know how Hunter’s will scale in Warlords, and whether or not having Aspect of the Hawk will hinder Blizzard’s ability to balance Hunter DPS later in the expansion. This is a question for someone like Delirium of Thrill of the Wild to answer.

I think Blizzard has taken some steps to mitigate this in Warlords.

 Beta Patch Notes

We’ve consolidated the way that Attack Power and Spell Power function and scale, to make those values clearer and correct some scaling issues regarding caster weapons relative to physical weapons.

  • Each point of Agility or Strength now grants 1 Attack Power (down from 2). All other sources of Attack Power now grant half as much as before.
  • Weapon Damage values on all weapons have been reduced by 50%.
  • Attack Power now increases Weapon Damage at a rate of 1 DPS per 3.5 Attack Power (up from 1 DPS per 14 Attack Power).
  • Attack Power, Spell Power, or Weapon Damage now affect the entire healing or damage throughput of player spells.

 

I could point you to some articles written about this three and four years ago, but I don’t know how relevant they are anymore. Instead I’ll just leave you with Bendak’s Four Fun Things to do with Aspect of the Fox video.

WoD Beta: 4 fun things to do with Aspect of the Fox

Watch this video on YouTube.
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Crazy Like a Fox

The official Warlords of Draenor patch notes were updated to include the long awaited Hunter Raid cooldown – Aspect of the Fox.

Aspect of the Fox: Party and raid members within 40 yards take on the aspects of a fox, allowing them to move while casting all spells for 6 seconds. Only one Aspect can be active at a time. 3 minute cooldown.

You may remember the first iteration of this back in Cataclysm that allowed Hunters to fire their own abilities on the move. This takes that concept and applies it to your entire raid.

This hasn’t been added to beta yet, so I haven’t had a chance to see it in action. Aspects tend to stay active until you remove them, or something causes them to be removed. If it’s treated as an aspect versus an ability then this is how I think it will work.

You cast Aspect of the Fox and your raid has six seconds to cast while moving. The Aspect drops off the Hunter and goes on a three minute cooldown; well the CD starts once it’s cast, you get the idea. Once it comes off cooldown you can cast it again.

I like the fact the raid wide cooldown is an Aspect. Aspects have been part of the Hunter toolkit since the beginning, and it would feel strange not to have them.

If you think about it, the only real issue we had with them is that you were force to sacrifice DPS for utility. With that now gone, Aspects have the potential to be viable, and this opens the door to having more of them in the future.

Now as far as having a bona fide raid cooldown, all I can say is be careful what you wish for. Hunters now have a responsibility to the raid that extends beyond just shooting the boss in the face.

Expect to be relied upon to push that button when the raid leader calls for it. Given the nature of Aspect of the Fox you can expect to want to use it during heavy movement portions of a fight. I know that goes without saying, but I am pointing it out because that isn’t necessarily on the pull, or something coincides with Heroism or general burst phases.

It’s highly situational, and could require coordination if you have more than one Hunter in the group, which is likely to be the case.

Raid sizes are going to be bigger in Warlords. Mythic has a set size of 20, LFR is set at 25, and Normal/Heroic can range from 10-30 players.

Three Hunters working together could turn a 6 seconds of casting on the move into 18 seconds.

I thinks this is a nice change for Hunters. It’s a lot better than the old Aspect of the Wild which provided nature damage reduction and was rarely used.

While still somewhat situational, I expect this to be used every encounter.

I’m eager to see how it plays out.

Always on the Move

Patch 5.1 testing continues and Blizzard is now starting to release some of the class balance changes that are inevitable once players migrate into end-game raiding and PvP. Hunters are getting a huge buff to their mobility in patch 5.1. According to MMO-C, Steady Shot, Cobra Shot and Barrage will be useable while moving. I’ll say it again, Steady Shot, Cobra Shot and Barrage will be useable WHILE MOVING.

There’s no mention of Aspect of the Fox in the patch notes, but one would assume that it will be redesigned or removed all together. I suspect the the latter myself.

If this is indeed the direction that Blizzard is going with these abilities then it’s a very nice change. The benefit for PvP is that Hunters can now be in Aspect of the Hawk 100% of the time, rather than Fox 100%. For PvE this means no more aspect dancing. Ultimately Hunters gain more from this change in PvP than PvE, but it’s fantastic for both.

It was pretty well known that Blizzard wasn’t happy with Aspect Dancing. During the MoP beta they tried to address it by putting Aspects on the GCD, but this was unpopular and they reverted it.

In Episode 141 of the Hunting Party Podcast we talked to Zumio who had a pretty negative opinion on Hunter aspects in general. He even went so far to suggest that Blizzard change Steady and Cobra to fire on the move. It appears that Blizzard agrees with that assessment – for now.