Aaaaaand we’re back. Sort of. The Legion alpha is back online and with it comes our first look at Marksmanship! Beast Mastery is still locked out but should hopefully be available soon. Unfortunately a bug in the Marksmanship artifact scenario is preventing progression, but I expect that will be fixed relatively soon. I still managed to play around with the spec a bit, and I have some first impressions.
- At its core, the MM rotation is pretty smooth. It’s a little strange coming from the T18 set bonuses where I am used to Aimed Shot being instant, and my Focus generator with a cast time. In Legion, it’s the opposite of that. Once I got over that, it was pretty easy to pick up on. There is a bit of a ramp up time with Marked Shot stacks, but there are still ways to do lots of up front damage (see Head Shot below).
- Maintaining 3 stacks of Marked Shot on a long-lived target is relatively easy. Hunter’s Mark has a high chance to proc, which makes Marked Shot become available.
- The complexity starts when you add in active talents, like Black Arrow and Head Shot.
- Black Arrow now has 3 charges. You can choose to multidot or stack all 3 charges on a single target. I like it a lot!
- Head Shot is interesting because it is the first Hunter ability to have a variable Focus cost. That’s right, you can spend anywhere from 20-100 Focus on it. I believe the intention here is that it will deal more damage based on how much Focus you have. For example, if you have 100-120 Focus, the shot will consume 100 Focus and do its max damage. If you have, say, 75 Focus, it will consume all 75 and do slightly less damage. This works all the way down to 20 Focus, where presumably it will do the least damage. In its current incarnation, it does the same damage at all Focus levels but I don’t believe that’s intentional.
- The Dark Ranger talent frequently summons minions for you. It’s common to have several of them active. They don’t last very long (about 8-10 seconds I believe), but they do indeed taunt and tank. So far I have seen hellhounds, undead boars, undead eagles, and undead wind serpents. It picks a random undead beast every time.
- Volley technically works but it’s not all there yet. The visuals need work and it’s doing hardly any damage. I quickly went back to good ol’ Barrage.
- There are a lot of kiting tools that help you get by without a pet. You have Concussive Shot, Frozen Ammo (if you pick the Exotic Munitions talent), Bursting Shot (really cool), Disengage, Binding Shot, Aspect of the Cheetah, etc. I felt like I was more in control than I was with Survival, and taking far less damage in general. MM still won’t have the capability of BM when it comes to soloing large numbers of enemies at once (thanks to Beast Cleave), but it works and that’s not supposed to be its strength anyway.
- On top of this, you can begin your encounters at a great distance. Even in 680 ilvl gear, my mastery brought my shot range up to 48 yards. This makes things very easy to kite.
- I will go into more detail in the future once I can get my artifact.
More Hati news?
Just a quick update about Hati, the extra pet the Beast Mastery is getting via its artifact. There have been new versions of the lightning wolves datamined, and I think it’s pretty obvious that these are for the various versions of Titanstrike. This is not confirmed, but I think Hati will transform based on your chosen artifact color. There are 4 color variants for the artifact, and we have 4 new matching colors for the wolf. Convenient, huh?
I’m happy they went to the trouble of making different colors, but I guess I’m a bit surprised they chose to use an old WOTLK model for this. I personally don’t mind the saber worgs, but I know some Hunters are upset over this. I think they’re still hoping for some kind of glyph or option to use another pet in place of Hati.
You have to remember that Hati is part of Titanstrike. He is not your pet (in the same way as a tamed beast is your pet), he is the guardian of the Titanstrike. If Titanstrike goes, Hati goes. In that sense it makes sense why it would be a fixed model, but I definitely see the argument other Hunters are bringing up. It could look strange if literally every BM Hunter has one of these wolves.
A Mechanical dog has also been datamined, and I am fairly sure this will end up being a Hunter pet (Hunters are going to be able to tame mechanicals, in case you hadn’t heard).
You can see more colors of the mech dog here.
More alpha stuff soon!