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Everything’s New

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.

New PC

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.

New Guild

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.

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Hunter Changes in Patch 6.1

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.

Talents

  • 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

Survival

  • 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.

Hunter Pets

  • 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.

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Podcast, PTR, PC Woes

Episode 209

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.

PC Woes

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.

Happy Friday!

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It Must Be Italian

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.

orcrider

 

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Meanwhile… Beast Mastery Gets Buffed

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.

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Patch 6.1, RoBro, Highmaul High Jinx

Patch 6.1 is on its way to the PTR. You may have seen a whole list of changes for Hunters that make is sound like we’ll be powerful enough to one-shot Gul’dan on our own. Don’t be fooled, these are just tooltip changes to synch them up with what’s already in game. That awesomeness you’re reading? Yeah, you’re living it today.

The one change that is real is the battle rez update. Currently, when one of your raid member stands in the stupid and dies,  your pet has to be within 20 yards of the corpse to bring them back to life. In 6.1, the battle rez will have a 40 yard range making it infinitely more easy to rez. That’s something I certainly could have used in raid this past week.

Thanks to Artemishowl who brought the need for this change up to Celestalon during Blizzcon. There’s a reason why she was good choice to take over the WHU, and be a host on the podcast. Regarding the podcast, our next episode is scheduled for January 18th, and will feature RogerBrown as our guest.

RoBro has appeared on the podcast many times before, including episode 200, and I look forward to talking to him again. He and Artemishowl can trade stories on what it was like to participate in the Highmaul race for world first.

Finally this week, my Highmaul mission became available. There are four Highmaul missions. On two of the four I’m able to counter all six boss abilities. The other two are at five of six. I got one of the five of six missions this week. hmaulmission My best lineup gave me a 90% chance of success. All three followers have a 654 ilvl, and all three have epic mounts. I’ve heard of people failing these at 96% and higher, so 90% is no guarantee by any means.

The epic mounts reduced the mission time to one hour, so at least I didn’t have to wait long for the bad news. Fortunately things worked out, and not only was the mission a success, but I actually got an item that I needed.

I’m glad my 90% chance worked out, and this follower mini-game is my current obsession. My goal is to get all my Highmaul missions at a 100% success rate. I’ve got six followers that I’m leveling that can counter one of the abilities that other followers cannot. There’s still hope that they’ll pick up the ability to counter one of the other abilities and fill the third slot in those missions. A few of these followers will max level by the time my next Highmaul mission becomes available. Maybe by then it’ll be a Mythic.

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It’s Not Just for AoE Anymore

When I read this post by Delirium espousing the benefits of using Explosive Trap in Survival’s single target rotation, I thought it would be a good topic for Episode 208. I also wanted to hear for myself that Survival Hunters should consider using Explosive Trap for single target DPS.

It seems that every expansion we go through this analysis. If my memory serves me correct, we reached a point in Mists where it was a DPS loss to use the trap as part of the rotation. From a design standpoint I think Blizzard would prefer it this way. In fact, I’m sure most players would prefer that too, but like the IRS trying to squeeze every last penny out of taxpayers, we Hunters like to squeeze every ounce of DPS that our stout dwarven bodies can muster.

With Glaive Toss and Barrage we’re used to using AoE abilities as part of our rotation, but Explosive Trap seems different. Part of the problem is it’s awkward to use. It’s not a shot. We have to pull up the targeting reticle, aim the trap, and then launch it. This is further complicated now that our trap launcher has been redesigned by Azeroth’s “finest” Goblin engineers and is never on when you need it.

Seriously, there was nothing wrong with the way Trap Launcher’s worked in Mists of Pandaria. I don’t know how many episodes of the podcast we recorded during Mists, but I’m pretty sure we neither praised or complained about how Trap Launcher functioned. It was perfect, and didn’t merit any discussion.

Now it toggles off whenever you switch specs, change talents, sneeze, breath, open your inventory, blink, and any number of seemingly random acts.

The good news is that while using Explosive Trap can be a DPS gain, it certainly isn’t mandatory to mix it into your rotation, and if you’re not efficient with launching it, you could cost yourself some GCD’s and negate the DPS gains of using it.

The best tip I heard for using it was to pull up the reticle while you’re casting Cobra/Focusing Shot and then launch the trap as soon as the cast is over.

I’m not sure how much I’ll mix this in, but I’m definitely playing more Survival now than I was before.

If you do mix Explosive Trap into your rotation, let me know how it goes. Perhaps I can just live vicariously through you on this one.

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Episode 208: Happy New Year

DarkbrewDeliriumBendak and Alisaunder ring in 2015 with episode 208. This week we discuss Survival’s continued rise in popularity. We tell you whether or not it’s advantageous to use Explosive Trap in single target situations. We also give you some tips on how ensure success on those lucrative Highmaul follower missions.

Artemishowl and Solarflair were out this week, but we’ll try and get the entire gang back for Episode 209 on January 18th.
Happy New Year!

The show is broadcast live on Twitch TV. In addition to the live show you can find it at,

Episode 207: Spec Parity

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Happy New Year!

I feel like I say this at the end of every year, but it’s hard to believe that another one has come to a close. I’d like to thank you for your continued support of this blog and the Hunting Party Podcast.

Overall 2014 was a good year. January began with the end of the Hunting Party Podcast. It was a bittersweet moment to be sure. I really didn’t want to give it up, but the timing was right. There was a big void in the Hunter community that needed to be filled, and until that happened I didn’t think the show could continue on and be successful.

As the year progressed that void started to fill. In February, Bendak launched Eyes of the Beast and immediately started producing some of the highest quality content I’ve read in some time. His Warlords alpha/beta coverage was incredible, and his guide on how to tame Gara does everything but tame the damn thing for you.

In March Solarflair started a new Hunter podcast called Cloak and Quiver. It was a one-man show and a worthy successor to the Hunting Party Podcast. I was considering doing something similar, but the quality of Cloak and Quiver was so good it made more sense to sit back and let it take off.

In April another new Hunter blog exploded onto the scene when Delirium started Thrill of the Wild. Focused on theorycrafting and spreadsheets, Delirium offered a unique perspective of the Hunter class that wasn’t found elsewhere. New pets are great, but what is the best pet for the DPS in Warlords? Delirium was the man with answers.

The Summer months were all focused on the Warlords of Draenor alpha/beta, and as we headed into Fall there was a seasonal shift in the Hunter community. Zeherah bid farewell and the Warcraft Hunter’s Union made a triumphant return with Artemishowl taking the helm.

The Hunter community was back and better than ever, so it only made sense that the Hunting Party Podcast return to its former glory as well. On September 28th, myself, Bendak, Artemishowl, Solarflair and Delirium banded together to bring you the return of the Hunting Party Podcast.

I predict 2015 will be a great year for the show. Now that things have settled with the expansion, we should have more time to focus on the show. I’ve been very pleased with how it’s gone thus far, and it should only get better in the coming months.

We will have a podcast this Sunday at the usual 10:00 AM Eastern time, and we should have a full house of hosts. I still don’t know what we’ll be discussing this week, but I’m hoping Artemishowl will talk about what it was like to be part of the race for world first in Highmaul. She’s left Blood Legion and is now raiding for an Alliance guild. I’m trying not to hold it against her for going Worgen instead of Dwarf, but it’s not easy.

Again, thank you for your support and I wish you happy and healthy 2015.

Good Hunting!

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Happy Holidays!

Another year is coming to a close, and I wanted to thank all of you who come here each and everyday (even when I don’t have anything new), and listen to the podcast every other week; especially to those of you who brave the early morning to listen to it live. Without you there’d be no point to doing any of it.

Of all the things that transpired for Hunters and World of Warcraft it’s the podcast that I was most excited to see come back. I’m really happy with the new lineup, and I hope you are too. 2015 should be an exciting year. We’ll should have all of the hosts back for the next episode, and we’re looking to bring more guests onto the show as the year progresses.

I’m still having fun playing Warlords, but the bloom is definitely starting to fade. While some have said that information about 6.1 has come too soon, I find myself in the opposite camp, craving not only information, but looking forward to a playable PTR.

I’ve settled into raiding mode, and am finding less need to logon other than raid nights. There’s stuff to do, but not much that I care to do right now. Most of my time is spent managing my Garrison. I continue to fine tune it, and I’m pleased with my current configuration.

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Other than playing the the follower mini-game it’s mostly about raiding right now. Our team should kick it into high Highmaul mode after the New Year. Now that the specs are on more even footing, I’ll be giving Survival a serious look. If I like it, then I might go with Marksmanship and Survival as my two specs. It’ll be the first time in quite a while where I didn’t carry around a Beast Mastery spec.

You can add Tri-spec to my top Winter Veil list.

Happy Holidays!