Another expansion of BM? The state of the hunter in Warlords

There’s a problem with survival and marksmanship on the beta right now: no one seems to be happy with the two specs. I know that may sound a little hyperbolic, but I’ve looked for positive feedback all over the place — blogs, twitter, forums, even in game — and I struggle to find any.

Beast mastery is an example of successful ability pruning. Serpent Sting gone? Fantastic. It added no complexity to the gameplay, you either kept it on or kept it off. Rapid Fire removed? I accept its loss as part of the overall cooldown/burst damage reductions, and we still have Bestial Wrath. Beast mastery still has great synergy with the pet and all of the passives that work so well in the background.

Before we start, I want to go on the record that I spent a good deal of time looking for some positive feedback on these specs to give this article some balance. I simply couldn’t find anyone who was like, “I’m happy with the direction MM and/or SV is taking in Warlords!” If you are one of these people, please speak up. I think the forums could use some balanced discussion. I did find this one person who liked the spec differentiation, but mentioned MM not being as fun to play.


Recently Blizzard had a “play with the blues” event on beta, and Celestalon let the community decide what spec he was going to play via strawpoll. First, he asked the role he should choose and hunters banded together to vote ranged DPS. Then he asked the spec, and hunters came together again and voted marksmanship to the top, getting a full 33% of the vote with 12 choices. If you count the other hunter specs, it was 41% of the vote. It was a landslide. No other class felt compelled to rally their troops as much as hunters did. And why did we do it? Because we’re not happy and we wanted him to see our plight first hand.

Here are some of the major complaints about marksmanship I have read around the intertubes:

  • It’s become too boring. Three main buttons with very little variation in the gameplay. Mostly you spend your time casting Aimed Shot.
  • Too slow, not very interactive.
  • Many like the Sniper Training mastery because of the potential skill cap, but think the re-activation time is far too punishing. Others think it’s strange that a spec’s mastery is completely negated under certain conditions (some suggested having it be at 50% strength all the time, and 100% strength while standing still). Since the range bonus is only temporary, you can’t rely on it and it almost becomes pointless.
  • Many hunters use marksmanship for PvP on live and they don’t like these changes for PvP.
  • There is no proc or debuff to manage to make up for the loss of Steady Focus and Master Marksman.
  • AoE is still lacking.  Number tuning aside, people just don’t like Bombardment all that much. It’s just tunnel vision on one button, while survival and beast mastery allow you do weave in Multi-Shots when appropriate. If MM AoE is to stay like this, it desperately needs something.
  • The Chimaera Shot cleave bonus is nice, but some still feel there is still wasted opportunity here. Perhaps some interaction with Aimed Shot?
  • They want their bleeds back.
  • There’s no option to quickly get rid of excess focus. The spec overall feels too sluggish. Aimed Shot needs to be faster.
  • The spec is overly reliant on Thrill of the Hunt.

I’m sure I’ve missed many of the complaints, but those are some of the major ones. I agree with some of them. For example, MM AoE is a big problem. The only time Bombardment is valuable to me is situations with lots of targets. Cleaving off to a second or third is pretty ineffectual, even when it’s free with Thrill of the Hunt. With Beast Cleave you can toss out a Multi-Shot every 4 seconds and it feels rewarding to keep that buff up. It’s also worthwhile to use in almost every 2+ target situation. Survival can can multidot with Arcane or Multi to cover almost any situation as well. Essentially, there are options.

I’m not crazy about the bleeds thing. The only thing I miss about Piercing Shots is the brief period of time on beta when it worked with Multi-Shot. If they’re dead set on this style of AoE for MM, I think they need to buff the hell out of Bombardment. The other option is allowing Bombardment’s damage buff to stack. There could be some gameplay there in maintaining the 5 second buff.

The other thing I agree with is the lack of any secondary mechanics to manage.  I wasn’t even a fan of Steady Focus, but at this point I’d rather have it than nothing at all. That extra 15% haste could really help with the sluggish feel of the spec. I realize the sluggish problem will improve in later tiers, but why should a spec suffer in earlier tiers simply because it’ll be OK in later tiers?

I miss the 5 yard range increasing perk. I don’t like the range component of Sniper Training as much because you can be placed out of range without actually moving farther away. I would rather see the 5 yard bonus returned as a MM passive and the range component removed from the mastery entirely.

To break up the negativity a bit, I must say that Rapid Fire is a pretty nice cooldown now that it activates Careful Aim. 🙂

Overall, my main beef with the spec centers around the AoE and the boring feel of it. I don’t want to say it’s too simplistic because there is skill involved in both managing focus and your movement, but that doesn’t stop it from being unfulfilling for me to play. Perhaps the slower play style just isn’t my cup of tea. Is it yours?



I personally have less of a problem with survival than I do marksmanship at this point. I actually like the idea of a spec that thrives on very high sustained damage versus many peaks and valleys in the damage output, but I think it’s gone a bit too far.

Here are some of the major complaints I’ve seen:

  • Survival needs a cooldown or execute. At this point, I think many hunters would accept just one or the other (most would prefer the cooldown).
  • Many want the old Lock and Load back with free Explosive Shots and instant cooldown reset. They don’t like it when a LnL proc happens while Explosive Shot still has 5 seconds on its cooldown.
  • The lack of LnL procs when you have low multistrike is disconcerting.
  • On the other hand, with high multistrike, the spec devolves into nothing but Explosive Shot since all your focus needs to be devoted to bleeding off the LnL stacks. It can get to the point where you have to remind yourself to cast Arcane Shot to keep Serpent Sting alive.
  • Black Arrow‘s 24 second cooldown and 18 second duration feels weird. I think this is a side effect of having Assurance of Consequence for a year.
  • Explosive Trap is still pretty useless.
  • It’s too simple. Not much of a skill cap to take advantage of.
  • Why oh why did you take away Improved Camouflage? It was going to actually make survival hunters live up to their name. (note: Improved Camo prevented camo from breaking when dealing/taking damage in combat, for 6 seconds)

Again, I agree with some of this. I do think survival needs a cooldown of some kind. It doesn’t even have to be incredibly bursty, but just something to look forward to.

Pooling Lock and Load stacks is supposed to be survival’s burst damage, but the problem is that it’s not bursty enough for those times you really need it, and you can end up losing damage in the long run when you don’t use one at least every 6 seconds. Assuming you did save up 5 stacks, it’s going to cost you 75 focus and the damage is spread out over 8 seconds (5 GCDs plus the 3 second DoT). It’s just not that bursty when it’s spread out over 8 seconds since Explosive Shot’s damage is pretty low in the first place.

I’m going to repeat my original cooldown suggestion once again because what the hell?

Loaded for Bear: Consumes all of your Lock and Load charges. Your next Explosive Shot deals the combined damage of all consumed charges. 1.5 minute cooldown.

It’s not even that crazy of a cooldown. You save yourself 60 focus and the damage is spread out over 3 seconds instead of 8 seconds. It’s simply something to look forward to, or use strategically when the need arises. The main incentive here is actually having a reason to pool 5 charges.

Another option is to turn Explosive Trap into something more useful for a survival hunter. Something like changing Trap Mastery from 30% increased damage to 100%.

Overall, my main beef is the lack of cooldown or variance in the gameplay. I actually like the new Lock and Load mechanic, but I know I might be in the minority there.


Like a broken record…

I think the main thing to take away from this is just how hard it is to find a hunter who is actually happy with marksmanship and survival in their current states. I haven’t followed other classes that closely because 99% of my WoW time is spent playing the masterclass, but maybe you can tell me if they are this up in arms about any of their specs? Are hunters alone in feeling this way? Or is the sky falling for everyone?

Beast mastery has always been my preferred spec. I’d probably spend a lot of my time playing it anyway, but I thought it was worth bringing up this topic at least one more time for all the MM and SV hunters out there who are getting a little worried. I don’t know what else to do at this point. I’ve given feedback multiple times and in multiple places and I hate sounding like a broken record.

At least we’ve still got BM…  😕

For more thoughts on MM in the beta, check out “WoD Beta: Missing the Mark” from last month.


14 thoughts on “Another expansion of BM? The state of the hunter in Warlords”

  1. I’m afraid that they’re going to turn survival into the “intro” ranged DPS spec – specifically tuned down in complexity for the sake of newer or returning players. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. I guess you could see into the future. Celestalon finally posted his hunter feedback response on the forum.

    To summarize: SV and MM are dumb and boring by design. Some small changes to talents which do nothing to solve MMs issues. SV can potentially get something out of the redesigned AMoC.

    I had whole forum post ready, explaining why I don’t like MM at the moment but I guess I don’t need to bother with that anymore.

    I assume to make sure the hunter changes become a “succes” BM will be nerfed into the ground so people will be forced to play SV or MM…or quit.

  3. On Marksman: The actual problem is that Blizz is overly cautious and they dont go through with their own ideas. Ive said it quite often here but Chimera Shot is still the best example: After making quite an effort to turn SV into the magical damage spec and Marksman into the physical damage spec, they had the chance here to make good on their own ambition of differentiating specs and turn Chimera into a useful physical ability. What did we get? Flashier graphic, a cleave and still magical damage.

    The way to go is in my eyes obvious: Chimera Shot should be a physical shot that applies stacks of armor reduction, up to 15% or 20%. Its a physical effect, so its in keeping with the theme of MM and its interactive with Aimed Shot, since applying Chimera would increase the effectiveness of Aimed. This would have solved another problem that was recently debated in the Hunter community: that Chimera wasnt worth its GCD and Hunter wouldnt use it. Hunters would use the Armor-reduction-Chimera even if it did less damage than Aimed, just to keep up the debuff/buff. That in turn would have meant that we dont need to nerve Aimed, which should be as rewarding as possible, since its so unwieldy.

    Combine this with the idea from the forums, that we need a passive, which gives Aimed and Chimeras a chance to procc a free Kill Shot even above 35% Hp and we might get a pretty entertaining spec that is fully in keeping with the direction that Blizz wanted to go with the Hunter.

    2 very simple things and Blizzard delivered a quiver full of fail.

  4. I agree with everything you said about hunters, but I would point out i know of one class that feels very much how we do. The warrior community is very upset with how arms warriors are looking right now. Supposedly Arms warriors can be played with a cast sequence macro within a close percentage of optimal play. Fury warriors are also stirring up a fuss but not quite to the point of arms from what I’m seeing. Prot warriors actually seem very happy with most of the changes though. Just saying we’re not the only ones having a few problems, and hopefully both classes will feel better closer to 6.0

  5. I don’t mind having different skill caps on the three specs. The main problem is having one or two specs that just aren’t fun, interesting or challenging. Spamming one or two buttons for a 10 minute fight isn’t going to keep people interested.

    A big CD for survival and some AoE for MM and I think we’ll have enough variety in style and skill to keep most people happy – assuming appropriate tuning and hunters willing to switch to the spec that suits them most. What it won’t do is satisfy the diehard MM/Surv/BM enthusiasts who want to play their favourite spec at their preferred skill cap in their preferred environment. To me, that seems to be a selfish goal that’s outside the realms of practicality (even though I’d love to have an old school MM spec where you could discard your pet and nuke everything).

    1. “What it won’t do is satisfy the diehard MM/Surv/BM enthusiasts who want to play their favourite spec at their preferred skill cap in their preferred environment. To me, that seems to be a selfish goal that’s outside the realms of practicality (even though I’d love to have an old school MM spec where you could discard your pet and nuke everything).”

      How isnt this exactly what BM got? I dont think you would see half as many complaints from SV and MM enthusiasts if they werent able to look at BM and conclude that a much more interactive and internally consistent spec build is still considered balanced.

  6. For what it’s worth, no, hunters aren’t alone in feeling this way. Mages seem pretty pleased, warlocks pleased with some complaints, but shadow priests, shamans, balance druids…not a lot of joy.

  7. I guess this is already a bit too late, but I still believe the best flavor for MM is to dual-wield guns/crossbows or increased damaged when using bows (just like TG and SMF for Fury warriors).

    As for SV, it had great potential of becoming an “off-healer” (Bounty Hunter in SWTOR).
    It’s basically the “Bear Grylls” of the hunter-world and Blizz can use the same glyph approach with Warlocks which turns them to off-tanks (e.g. Tranq shot will become a Healing dart)

  8. For what its worth, I’m that guy that’s excited for the new MM play-style. I personally love the changes they made. The only thing i’m worried about is everyone’s concern, AOE, but as far as single target with TotH working on aimed shot and rapid fire proc’ing careful aim i love.

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