Legendaries have probably been the most contentious issue in all of Legion. It sucks to have meaningful gaps in player power, or completely transformative and quality of life effects gated behind pure luck. In my opinion, legendaries would have been better if they all had utility or defensive bonuses and their DPS power came from raw stats. Even if Blizzard agrees with this in hindsight, it’s kind of too late for Legion. Instead they’ve upped the drop rates and removed diminishing returns on bad luck protection so that eventually you can get all of them for your spec if you want.
This brings us to The Mantle of Command. The legendary every Hunter hopes to get. I was lucky enough to receive it as my fifth legendary. This is on top of the Roar of the Seven Lions which I received as my second legendary. Don’t hate me. Even though I’ve been lucky here, I know the system is broken. The only solace I can offer is that you will get the shoulders at some point now that it doesn’t get harder to get each subsequent legendary (after your 3rd). Let’s just hope it’s a matter of days rather than a matter of months because every BM Hunter deserves these.
Patch 7.2 Update – April 1, 2017
New traits (and an update to Dire Frenzy) have lessened the relative value of the Crit build discussed below. It’s not that the Crit build has gotten worse, it’s that the Dire Frenzy build has gotten better. The Dire Frenzy build switches priorities back to Agi > Mastery = Haste > Crit > Vers (roughly).
The changeover happens once you get the Thunderslash trait, plus Convergence of Fates and/or Call of the Wild. At this point, the Haste/Mastery Dire Frenzy build becomes about 5% more powerful than the Crit build in single target. This is the same single target build discussed in my BM FAQ post.
In short, the One With The Pack crit build is still totally viable (and extremely fun), but min-maxers will probably want to stick to the Dire Frenzy build. Oh, and the shoulders are still totally amazing with this build because it gives you so much control over those Dire Frenzy stacks.
For all I know, this could revert again once Tomb of Sargeras comes out and we get the new set T20 set bonuses. Part of the reason this build is so strong is the T19 2pc for Dire Frenzy, and once we lose T19 4pc, the OWTP Crit build’s increased Bestial Wrath uptime could be crucial for those new T20 bonuses. But for TODAY, the best possible DPS is had by going Dire Frenzy.
Second Update: April 12, 2017 – Thunderslash nerf
With the Thunderslash nerf, the original Crit build discussed below is still a viable option. The Dire Frenzy build still has more DPS, but the gap is much much smaller. If you have more fun doing the Crit/OWTP build, I would encourage you to play it. The gap is only a few percent at most.
The Mantle of Command is born
That day when the shoulders first appeared in an early 7.1.5 PTR build…
Blizzard: “Dire Beast gains 1 additional charge” … but only if you have this legendary.
Me: Are. You. F@#$ing. Kidding. Me?!
Adding a second charge to Dire Beast was one of the most consistent pieces of feedback given to the devs during the Legion beta. Several Hunters, including myself were giving this feedback at least 6 months prior to Legion launch, maybe even sooner. I dug up one of those posts in my history. Notice the date on it. Since Blizzard deletes the beta forums I can’t see the whole post, but I assure you this was talking about the lack of Dire Beast charges:
This feedback was pushed into overdrive during the 7.1.5 PTR, with a pretty concerted effort from BM Hunters trying to get this made baseline (even if it meant tradeoffs elsewhere), and for the shoulders to be changed to something else. We didn’t convince Blizzard in the end.
But anyway, why give this feedback? Why is 2 charges on Dire beast such a big deal? Because having an RNG cooldown reset on an ability with a ~10 sec cooldown means a majority of your procs are going to provide little benefit or be outright wasted. They’ll happen right before the cooldown was going to finish anyway, or sometimes even right during the GCD at the end of cooldown (absolutely infuriating). I guess don’t need to tell you this if you’ve been playing BM.
The TLDR of these shoulders is that it makes Wild Call procs NOT suck. It makes them fun. It makes the rotation feel better. It opens up new talent options. It reduces downtime. It’s pretty much a new spec.
It’s not a dramatic DPS gain over other BM legendaries (for example, when I went from belt/boots to belt/shoulder it was only a 10k DPS gain in the sims). What makes them good is the other benefits.
Learning to love Wild Call procs
Did you ever play Survival back in the day? Remember how awesome Lock and Load procs used to feel? That’s what Wild Call procs feel like with the shoulders. And if you really love the procs you can start to use the One with the Pack talent. You don’t have to use this talent, but it is opened up as an option.
I love me some procs, so I do use OWTP most of the time (except for heavy AoE where I’ll still use Blink Strikes). I’ve had occasions where I had a total of 6 or even 7 pets active (pet, hati, and 5x dire beast), and having 4 or 5 pets up at a time is fairly common.
When you get particularly lucky streaks, it becomes a balancing act of getting your Dire Beasts out and not capping Focus (making sure to weave Kill Command or Cobra Shot in between the Dire Beasts, etc.). It reduces the overall downtime of the spec by a noticeable amount. Most important of all, it’s fun.
Addicted to Crit
One with the Pack gets better and better the more crit you have. In fact, if your crit is fairly low, it can even be more valuable than agility. If you stick with Blink Strikes or Bestial Fury, the stat weights remain fairly similar to before, except Crit is going to be up there with Mastery (either slightly above or below it).
I dropped an astounding amount of Mastery to up my crit chance, which was kind of scary to do. I love the play style of having tons of procs, so it was worth it. The funny thing is, if I revert back to my old gear (mostly Mastery), the overall DPS is very similar.
However, re-gearing for the shoulders is an option, not a requirement. It depends how you want to play and what talents you want to use. On the other hand, re-gearing to a crit build without the shoulders is not really an option.
Since current stats, trinkets, and your other legendary will all have an effect on the value of crit, you should really sim your own stat weights. For example, when I was <30% crit chance, Critical Strike was valued higher than even Agility! Once I settled onto my current 36.5% crit chance, Crit fell below Agility (but is still ahead of Mastery). I don’t know if there’s any real limit to crit’s usefulness, but I suspect that at >40% it will fall behind Mastery for most people.
Mastery has more relative value when you’re not using One With The Pack (say if you want to use Blink Strikes in a M+ dungeon or AoE fight). So to be totally optimal you might want to do some gear swapping based on the situation/talents used. For example, I swap out one of my crit-heavy rings for a mastery-heavy ring when doing that sort of content.
Trinkets and Gear
There are no dramatic changes here other than “get more crit.” On the trinket front, Bloodthirsty Instinct is still a mainstay. For Nighthold trinkets, they are all sort of underwhelming. Entwined Elemental Foci is probably the best overall from Nighthold. Unstable Arcanocrystal is very good, especially for the OWTP build. In fact, an 860 Arcanocrystal is about equal to a 900 Entwined Elemental Foci in this case. It’s stupid, I know. And even if I did have a 900 Foci, I’d still want the Arcanocrystal for reliability (the Foci trinket is feast or famine). Save your bonus rolls for Withered Jim when he decides to show up every 2 months! If you’re lucky, you could also get a high ilevel agility/crit trinket from Guarm or a world quest.
Luckily, Nighthold does have a couple nice crit/mastery (heavy on the crit) pieces of jewelry. You’ll want to get your hands on Spellblade’s Gemmed Signet and Beleron’s Choker of Misery because jewelry is going to be your biggest source of crit chance. There’s also Thistle-Proof Thorngrabbers, some nice crit/mastery bracers.
Enchant your rings with 200 crit, gem with 150 crit (unless your own stat weights say otherwise). I know it’s scary to watch that Mastery number plummet, but it’s worth it.
The major change, as already discussed, is opening up One with the Pack as a viable talent option. You do not need to use this talent with the shoulders, but if you do it’s best paired with Stomp. Dire Frenzy and OWTP don’t seem to be the best combo, but Dire Frenzy + Bestial Fury is still a great single target combo.
The above build is my go-to for most situations, with the exception of Mythic+ where I’ll usually swap to Blink Strikes and Dire Stable. I’ll also use those talents on some AoE fights like Tichondrius (since I’m on the adds almost the entire time). But for mixed single target/cleave fights like Gul’dan or Elisande, I stick to the single target OWTP build. You still get lots of passive cleave from the extra Stomps, plus consistent single target damage.
Despite the randomness of procs, the OWTP build has fairly reliable sustained DPS (less peaks and valleys). This is mainly because of the super high up time on Bestial Wrath. Combined with T19 4p bonus, it’s usually at least 75% uptime, and sometimes more.
Here’s a few tips about using the shoulders.
- On your opener, go AMOC -> Bestial Wrath -> Kill Command -> Dire Beast x2 -> Titan’s Thunder -> Aspect of the Wild
- Spending that 60 Focus up front helps prevent Focus capping on the opener (plus delaying Aspect of the Wild). There’s always a small chance you’ll waste a proc in the first couple seconds, but don’t sweat it.
- Never sit on 2 charges of Dire Beast. It’s OK to sit on 1 charge for a bit, but generally you just want to spend them ASAP.
- There are exceptions to holding onto 2 charges of Dire Beast. For example I sometimes briefly hold onto that second charge if I know an empowered eye is about to spawn on Gul’dan (say in the next few seconds), so I can put both beasts on the eye.
- It’s really easy to Focus cap when you get a string of procs. Avoid this by weaving in Kill Command or Cobra Shot in between each Dire Beast charge.
- Since Bestial Wrath is going to have a higher uptime, it’s worth always saving Titan’s Thunder for when it can fully benefit from that.
- If your Bestial Wrath cooldown finishes while the first one is still active, try not to overlap them too much. The main exception would be if you have 2 Dire Beast charges. In that case, make sure you cast Bestial Wrath first so you get all the cooldown reduction from those banked charges.
- Sometimes you’ll have no choice but to overlap, but usually it’s no more than a few seconds which is OK. I often cast a Cobra Shot before starting the new overlapped Bestial Wrath, so I can open the next one with a Kill Command.
- If you’re using Dire Frenzy, you can sit on single charges of Dire Frenzy a little longer to try and extend your pet’s haste buff stacks.
- When using OWTP, you don’t really want to use Dire Stable because you just increase your chance of Focus capping. Plus you usually have ~4 pets active at any one time, which makes Way of the Cobra very good.
Oh, and if you want to know the secret to more legendaries… run LFR (if you’re a raider and normally only run the other difficulties). For time investment, it’s probably the most efficient. I see them drop all the time in there. Two of my six legendaries are from LFR, yet I’ve gotten none from heroic or mythic raids (anecdotal, I know). You want the shoulders? You just have to maximize your chances at a legendary, and LFR is a real simple way to add more chances. Also look into groups that do speed clears of normal/heroic Emerald Nightmare (these are done specifically to farm legendaries and they are generally very fast).