Lone Wolf is a new level 100 talent for survival and marksmanship hunters. It’s kind of a big deal. It lets you play a pet class without a pet. Whoa. It’s pretty simple: Dismiss your pet and get a 30% damage buff. Lone Wolf is undoubtedly the result of player demand. Demand from all of the players who want to play an archer class without having to maintain a roster of pets. Even more demand from raiders who were sick of their pet doing silly things like getting stuck in random places and not doing any DPS.
I’m not currently in the alpha, so most of what follows is just speculation. I’m just going by what I can see on paper and the limited amount of info I’ve been able to gleam from the handful of hunter streamers in alpha.
The following talents and abilities will simply not function if you spec into Lone Wolf:
- Spirit Bond
- Blink Strikes
- Master’s Call
- Roar of Sacrifice (obvious since it’s a pet ability, but worth noting)
Spirit Bond is something I’d have trouble living without, though the new self-heals from Kill Shot and Survivalist will help somewhat. The loss of Master’s Call is probably a deal breaker for a lot of PvP hunters.
What about pet buffs?
You’ll still be able to bring one of these 6 major buffs without a pet. The interface is similar to the Call Pet interface. You click the button, and it slides out with the 6 available buffs (as shown in the image above). All of these buffs are permanent auras with a 100 yard range.
- Lone Wolf: Ferocity of the Raptor (5% crit)
- Lone Wolf: Grace of the Cat (Mastery)
- Lone Wolf: Wisdom of the Serpent (10% Spell Power)
- Lone Wolf: Power of the Primates (5% stats)
- Lone Wolf: Fortitude of the Bear (10% stamina)
- Lone Wolf: Haste of the Hyena (5% haste)
- Lone Wolf will also be able to bring the recently announced Multistrike and Versatility buffs.
The one thing you won’t have access to is pet debuffs such as magic vulnerability, physical vulnerability, mortal wounds, or the extra snare. You’ll also be missing out on special abilities like heroism/blood lust and a battle resurrection (both of which are available to non-BM hunters now). I suppose you could summon your Nether Ray, pop heroism, and then dismiss it to get your 30% damage buff back.
AoE vs. Single Target Benefits
Lone Wolf is definitely a single target DPS increase, as it should be for a level 100 talent. It’s probably around a 15% (give or take) DPS increase for single target, but that is only assuming your play is perfect. The pet damage you’re losing is passive, and in order to get the full benefit of the Lone Wolf damage boost you need to have good focus management and not delay any of your important abilities. Delirium had a good post about the extra skill cap involved with Lone Wolf.
Pet damage is not factored in to the AoE equation for Marksmanship and Survival, so this is actually a massive AoE damage boost — 30% more Multi-Shot damage combined with Bombardment + Piercing Shots for marksmanship and Serpent Sting for survival is very nice.
Incendiary Ammo from the Exotic Munitions talent looks pretty decent for AoE damage. The 20% fire damage cleave is roughly equal to Multi-Shot (30% physical damage), so you could look at it as each Auto Shot is dropping in a passive Multi-Shot. I’m not a math guy, but it seems like Lone Wolf might be slightly better in the AoE department since the real damage of AoE comes from the secondary effects (Bombardment/Piercing Shots and Serpent Sting).
Overall, the talent looks like it’ll be pretty strong in dungeons and raids. Probably more so in multi-target encounters.
Soloing as a Lone Wolf
This is where it gets a little sketchy. I’m trying to imagine killing elites on the Timeless Isle without a pet, and I’m just not seeing it. The personal tank is just way too convenient. Maybe with Ice Trap and Enhanced Traps you’ll be able to keep everything permanently snared as Survival. That, and very liberal use of your Disengage button!
Maybe at higher gear levels it’ll be nice for soloing. For example, look at how long it takes to kill stuff at ilvl 500 on Timeless Isle. Pet tanking is essential there. Then look at how things blow up at ilvl 580. That is where Lone Wolf would be nice.
Is Lone Wolf missing too much?
There’s an active thread on the MMO-C forums about Lone Wolf and the abilities lost by taking it. Opinion is pretty split on the subject. One group wants petless versions of the affected abilities, and the other group thinks there should be stiff penalties for choosing to play without a pet.
I don’t think it would be totally unreasonable to have petless versions of some of these abilities. For example: Spirit Bond could turn into just the hunter component of the HoT with a different name. Master’s Call could have a slightly inferior version that only works on the hunter (since it would be silly to have the hunter dash over to a target to free them like a pet). Intimidation isn’t a huge loss really when you have Binding Shot. Blink Strikes is what it is, and there’s really no room for a petless version without a total re-design.
@Lolzormon All of which are on different rows, ensuring a choice on each row.
— Celestalon (@Celestalon) May 18, 2014
Blizzard seems OK with these talents not working, as long as there is still a choice of two talents on each row, so don’t hold your breath for any changes here.
Personally, these restrictions don’t bother me at all since Lone Wolf is not my talent. I play a hunter mostly because of the pets, not because they use bows. It’s what originally drew me to the class.
Are you cool with Lone Wolf in its current form? Or does Blizzard need to take it further?
The artwork of the orc hunter in the header is by Dmitriy Prozorov.