Alright, I knew Survival would be the unpopular Hunter spec going into Legion, but I didn’t think the disparity would be quite this severe. After a week of Emerald Nightmare, the numbers are in and it’s not pretty for Survival. As I write this, there are ~48,000 Hunter parses in Heroic Emerald Nightmare on Warcraft Logs thus far. Only ~660 of those are from Survival Hunters, along with ~36,000 Marksmanship and ~11,000 Beast Mastery. Those Survival numbers are pretty appalling.
First of all, yes, not all guilds upload their combat logs (or even keep any) but I think in the first week the vast majority of them doing Heroic content will be doing so, and these numbers should be fairly representative of what’s going on. When you add anecdotal evidence about seemingly never seeing Survival Hunters in the wild, it becomes pretty clear: Hardly anyone seems to be playing Survival.
That went by fast. I started by leveling to 110 in essentially “one sitting” which was exhausting but fun. Everything since then has been a blur of world quests and dungeon runs. Oh, and profession quests. Endless. Ceaseless. Profession quests. I’m still on that new expansion high so I’m not ready to say anything definitive yet (I seem to remember enjoying Warlords for the first week), but I think Legion has the potential to be my favorite expansion, or at least second favorite. If Hunters were in a better state, it would probably already have the title.
Reaching wave 30 on Endless mode in Proving Grounds to get “the Proven Assailant” title has always been a bit of a pain in the ass, but that has changed for Hunters in patch 7.0. I’d go as far to say as it’s now been kind of trivialized for Marksmanship. You still need to pay attention, but it’s way easier than it used to be.
Marksmanship is absolutely ridiculous for spread AoE damage if you take the right talents, and it’s just as good for single target to boot. These are the main talents you care about:
Sidewinders allows you to mark many things at once, and Patient Sniper adds a huge damage buff without having to build up 3 stacks (takes too long for these 1 minute waves). Combine that with Barrage when Marked Shot isn’t available and you have a deadly combination for Proving Grounds. Here is a good build to start with.
Patch 7.0 is upon us and Hunters are… well, kind of different. The reaction I’ve seen to the new Hunter specs has been mixed to say the least. It’s probably more shocking if you didn’t put in any serious play time on the beta or PTR. These are new specs, and it’s pretty much a new class. So take a deep breath and give it at least a week. 😛
I’m not saying negative reactions are unwarranted because I had many of them myself. The difference is I’ve had about 6 months to adjust! Accepting these changes didn’t happen overnight for me. Don’t think I’m totally happy with everything either — far from it — but I also realize that at this point nothing serious is going to change. So I’m done with complaining about changes and giving feedback. It’s time to move forward.
If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend trying out all 3 specs. If you want an easy low-stress place to do that, just do some Timewalking dungeons. It will give you some perspective on where the whole class stands. Maybe you’ve always been a BM Hunter, but you’ll try Survival and love it? Who knows?
Personally, I’ve warmed up to the new BM. It’s not perfect, but I have fun playing it. And it’s even better (IMO) once you get Hati and are able to have two custom pets. Marksmanship feels kind of disjointed to me unless I am using the Sidewinders talent. Survival is mostly a curiosity. I’ve never been a fan of melee combat in WoW, but Harpooning around with your pet is pretty damn fun.
Hunters can regain some of the functionality of old glyphs by heading out to Sholazar Basin and visiting Mardan Thunderhoof at the Nesingwary Base Camp. Originally I thought these items were only available in the class hall, but it turns out I was wrong!
Here is what this vendor sells. All four items cost 50 gold each.
- Pet Training Manual: Fetch — Teaches you the Fetch ability. Use this to have your pet loot nearby corpses for you.
- Pet Training Manual: Play Dead — Teaches you both the Play Dead and Wake Up abilities. This is actually better than the old glyph because you can have your pet feign death without you. If you want to replicate the functionality of the old glyph, you can macro both Play Dead and Feign Death together.
- The Art of Concealment — Teaches you the Aspect of the Chameleon ability, which makes you untrackable for 1 minute. This is similar to the old Aspect of the Beast.
- Hunter’s Call — A toy that summons a small beast to follow you around for 15 seconds on a 30 second cooldown.
Update 7/23: Additionally, you can pick up the Fireworks Instruction Manual from Bryan Landers in Dalaran (both old and new Dalarans) to teach you Fireworks.
As for glyphs, we are lacking them in the pre-patch (only Lesser Proportion is available) so you’ll have to wait until Legion. I previously covered the new glyphs here.
It’s been nearly 13 months since the last major WoW patch. Can we never have that happen again, Blizzard? Please? Alright then… so what’s there for a Hunter to do on patch day? Well, I can tell you what I’ll be doing.
First I’ll login to every character to collect their transmogs, then vendor most of that gear away (I have a feeling the enchanting market will be flooded). Then I will tame some new pets, probably starting with Thok. Then I’ll go learn all of the items that have become toys in 7.0. Collecting toys is kind of my thing (I even made a damn spreadsheet in preparation). I think I’ll have about ~270 of them on patch day, so getting to the 300 toy achievement in Legion should be easy (you get a recolored Sky Golem mount as the reward).
Then at some point I’ll begin the laborious process of opening thousands of Salvage Crates. From the gear in there, I will learn the appearances I don’t know and probably auction the rest to other transmog collectors. This is the part where it sucks to have only played Hunters for most of your WoW career. I do have some reasonably high level plate and cloth toons to send BoEs to for unlocking (and I think I will need to for the achievements, there’s only so much mail armor).
After that there won’t be much for me to do until the pre-expansion content starts unlocking (demon invasions). I am looking forward to that stuff. I imagine there will be a little more for you to explore if you weren’t on the beta or didn’t spend much time on the PTR.
If you’re interested in playing Survival when patch 7.0 drops, you may be wondering what the heck you’re supposed to use for a weapon since you probably only own ranged weapons at the moment. Sure, you will be getting your Talonclaw on day one of Legion, but for the 4-5 weeks in the interim you will need something to poke demons with. Thankfully, Blizzard will be sending you a melee weapon to get started with. If that’s not enough, there are several other options to tide you over until Legion.
Option 1: Blizzard’s Weapon Insurance
All Hunters who login to patch 7.0 will receive an in-game mail from Blizzard informing them of the weapon change for Survival. Attached to the message is a Survivalist’s Hunting Spear polearm. Its item level will be different depending on your raiding progress in Hellfire Citadel:
- No raid experience, or only LFR experience: ilvl 655
- Normal HFC raid experience: ilvl 690
- Heroic HFC raid experience: ilvl 705
- Mythic HFC raid experience: ilvl 720
I am not sure what the threshold is for Blizzard thinking that you have the experience, but if I had to guess it would be something similar to how the raid caches from the ship yard work. So if you’re currently getting heroic raid caches from the ship yard, you can probably expect an ilvl 705 polearm. This is just an educated guess, they may have different requirements.
Today’s beta build brought a few interesting changes (along with some nerfs) that are worth talking about.
- Kill Command damage buffed by 20%.
- Chimaera Shot now deals 180% weapon damage per target, down from 265%.
- Dire Stable now generates an additional 12 Focus, up from 8.
- Killer Cobra now has a 100% chance to reset the cooldown of Kill Command.
- One With The Pack now increases the chance for Wild Call procs by 15%, up from 10%.
- Hati’s death cooldown is now 30 seconds, down from 2 minutes.
Buffs all around for Beast Mastery with the exception of Chimaera Shot. It seems like they really don’t want it to be the default choice. I think they already succeeded in that with previous buffs to Stomp and Dire Frenzy, so I’m not sure this nerf was necessary. I felt like all 3 were pretty powerful in their own ways and relatively balanced.
The most interesting change here for me is the one to Killer Cobra. A couple of months ago, one of the builds actually had Killer Cobra function like this and it was pretty nice. It felt more powerful, as a level 100 talent should be. I think this could make it a much better competitor with Stampede. It makes Bestial Wraths a whole lot of fun. Tons of Kill Commands! The One With the Pack buff is nice but I still doubt it’s enough. Not while the majority of Wild Call procs are mostly wasted.
The buff to Hati’s death cooldown is a very welcome one. I’d still rather have control over resurrecting Hati myself immediately with Revive Pet, but at least it’s no longer a full 2 minute wait to get Hati back.
The Legion alpha and beta process has been a long one. I’ve been in for nearly 7 months, and I wasn’t even in the first wave. One would expect a good deal of iteration over such a long period of time, but for Hunters that really hasn’t been the case.
Blizzard was receptive to feedback about cosmetic “class fantasy” issues. The most notable example is Beast Mastery being a literal zoo of impersonal pets you didn’t tame yourself. Many Hunters didn’t like this. Shortly after the BM spec was unlocked, Blizzard responded to player feedback and made compromises by adding in the Glyph of the Dire Stable, Dire Frenzy, and Essence Swapper. They also listened to MM Hunters who missed having the option of a pet. On the topic of tameable pets, I think they took much of their inspiration from player feedback and suggestions. They did an amazing job with new tames this expansion.
This brings us to how the class actually plays. On this front I felt there was little iteration or developer communication at all. It was basically the complete opposite of what happened in the pre-Warlords testing. I couldn’t even keep up with all the blue posts and tweets back then. Leading up to Legion, I’ve watched the specs stay mostly the same despite overwhelming negative feedback.
Well, this is a first. In Legion (well, technically patch 7.0) Hunters will be able to venture into Siege of Orgrimmar and gather parts to make their very own Iron Juggernaut pet — in four different colors! To fully discover all the ins and outs of this taming challenge took many hours of searching around SoO, and the rest of Azeroth for that matter. I spent most of the time searching around with Valnaaros from the Petopia forums.
One of the parts needed turned out to be extremely well hidden, and when we didn’t see it on first inspection we assumed it was found elsewhere. After visiting every gnomish and goblin type area in WoW, we finally went back to SoO and found the missing piece. If you want to discover all this for yourself, skip the guide section below.