Shot of the Week: Steady/Cobra Shot

shotoftheweek

Each week we’ll look at the history and utility of some of the greatest abilities in Hunter’s arsenal

This week I’ll cover two shots that are critical to every Hunter’s rotation, and they are Steady Shot and Cobra Shot. The two abilities are not identical, although they basically share the same role and purpose which is to regenerate focus and provide some damage.

Steady Shot is granted at level three for all Hunters, so no matter what spec you choose at level 10, you will be using Steady Shot for most of your leveling. At level 81 Survival and Beast Mastery Hunters gain Cobra Shot, while Marksman stay with Steady Shot. Cobra Shot completely replaces Steady Shot for Survival and BM.

Both shots have a two second cast time that can be reduced by haste effects, and they also generate 14 focus, which is the primary benefit of these abilities. Steady Shot and Cobra Shot can also be fired while moving. This was something that was baked into each ability in patch 5.1. Prior to this Hunters had Aspect of the Fox which allowed them to fire these shots on the move, but at the expense of some DPS.

Although they are similar, there are some key differences with these abilities. Cobra Shot does nature damage which is nice because it bypasses the target’s armor. Steady Shot does physical damage, which does not ignore armor. This is why the damage of these two abilities differs, and you will sometimes see one get buffed while the other does not.

Cobra Shot refreshes Serpent Sting if it has been applied to the target. Steady Shot does not, as this is  handled by Chimera Shot. Steady Shot does impact the Marksman rotation in other ways though.

Firing two Steady Shots in a row triggers Steady Focus, which increases ranged attack speed by 15% and generates an additional three focus for 20 seconds. Careful Aim increases the critical strike chance of Steady Shot by 75% on targets who are above 80% health. Finally, Master Marksman has 50% chance grant the Master Marksman effect which lasts 30 seconds and stacks up to three times. Once it reaches three stacks your next Aimed Shot’s cast time and focus cost are reduced by 100% for 10 seconds.

As you can see Cobra and Steady Shot are an integral part of each spec’s rotation. The key is to fire these shot enough so that you properly manage your focus while not over using them at the expense of higher damaging abilities, and that my friends, really is the trick.

Good Hunting!


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.


Camouflage and Cobra Shot

Okay, here’s the deal any cataclysm alpha or beta related posts I make will have a spoiler disclaimer and you’ll need to click on the title or the “read the rest of the entry” to see the actual article.

Today’s post is going to take a look at the MMO-C data mined hunter abilities, Camouflage and Cobra Shot. If you do not want to hear about any Cataclysm related information that has not been released by Blizzard then do not read any further.

Since this is all coming out of an Alpha version of the expansion everything needs to be taken with a shaker of salt as it can and most likely will change.

As it stands right now, Camouflage is a cool but mediocre ability at best and may prove to be more annoying than practical in PvE.

Camouflage is an instant cast costing 45 focus, but takes 3 sec. before we fully enter a camouflaged state. It has a one minute cool down and cannot be cast in combat.

Basically, Camouflage is an opening ability that will give us a slight dps boost to our first shot in PvE. It also allows us to sneak around and drop traps pre-combat, which is only useful if Hunters are required to do any kind of crowd control.

The fact that it cannot be cast in combat rules out incorporating this into our regular rotation. In boss encounters this will be like casting Hunter’s Mark on ourselves. So for our big level 85 ability we appear to have been given a prowl ability and I’m a little underwhelmed. One final thought is that since this will consume almost half our focuse we’ll want to make sure that we cast it early enough so as to start combat with a full bar. I’d hate for my opening shot to have to be a Cobra Shot.

Cobra shot has a 1.5 sec. cast time, costs no focus (as expected), generates 9 focus, does nature damage, and it appears to extend the duration of serpent sting by an obscene amount (almost 3 minutes).

I suspect that is just a place hold number and won’t impact Serpent Sting by that much. If it did then all three specs (BM, MM, SV) would probably choose to use this over Steady Shot. Still though, even if the duration is reduced to something reasonable then SV and BM hunters might choose this shot over steady. Heck, even MM hunters might use it if they think Serpent will drop off before it can be refreshed by Chimera. It’ll be interesting to see how this one develops.

The talents haven’t been updated for hunters yet so It’s not clear how this shot will be buffed for BM hunters. It does sound like you’ll want to have a serpent sting applied before you cast this though.

Note that the [NYI] stand for “Not Yet Implemented” which means these abilities are not available in the current version of the Alpha, and as such are very, very much subject to change.

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 – http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/24261186675/cataclysm-class-preview-hunter/.

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.

Focus

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 ;) .

Pets

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.