I’ve had a couple people ask me about this “new build” going around so I thought I’d touch on it. Since it was buffed a while back, Aspect of the Beast has always been pretty close to Killer Cobra when using the Stomp build, but up until now it was always enough of a gap to ignore (for me, anyway). Now, as people get upgrades (especially to their weapon ilevel), Aspect of the Beast is emerging as a competitive talent for the Stomp build.
The rest of the talents are the same — Way of the Cobra, Stomp, One with the Pack, AMOC — but Killer Cobra is changed to Aspect of the Beast. A lot of your Kill Command damage gets replaced by Cobra Shot damage, which is viable because of the higher weapon ilevel (Cobra Shot is based on weapon damage). Where this changeover happens depends on your gear, but to me it looks like around 930-940 ilevel for Titanstrike is where Aspect of the Beast can start to pull ahead — barely. It will vary from person to person.
Aspect of the Beast build (yes, really)
Above is what my sims look like with these two talents. This is with the Stomp build and using Prydaz and Roar of the Seven Lions. Prydaz? Yeah, more on that later. My weapon ilevel is 945 — back when it was below 940, Killer Cobra was ahead by a few thousand DPS. In practice these results seem to match up. I haven’t played a ton of AOTB yet, but it does seem to keep pace.
What are the advantages?
Aspect of the Beast is probably a little easier to play: Just make sure you always have Focus for your Kill Command every 6-7 seconds, and in the meantime spam Cobra Shot and Dire Beast. The usual rules apply like going into Bestial Wrath with a lot of Focus.
The other advantage is you get more out of the talent in situations where you have to cleave. For example, on Mistress Sass’zine you spend a lot of time having to cast Multi-Shots which makes Killer Cobra underutilized, while Aspect of the Beast is still dealing damage as long as you Kill Command every 6-7 seconds. A lot of Hunters were already taking this talent on this fight anyway, but for fights with more brief moments of cleave (Harjatan or Kil’jaeden for example) you can concentrate more on the AoE damage and not worry about wasting Killer Cobra.
Also, more Sneaky Snake procs!
Aside from probably being a downgrade in gameplay (at least Killer Cobra is somewhat interesting), there is also a slight downgrade in burst damage — though not quite as much as you’d expect. Cobra Shot hits pretty hard with a high weapon ilevel and Way of the Cobra, so you don’t lose as much as you’d expect from dropping all those Kill Commands.
Any changes to stats or gear?
Stats are mostly the same as a normal Stomp build, except Mastery will drop a bit in value: Crit > Haste > Mastery > Vers. Having a lot of Mastery won’t hurt, but this build craves Crit and Haste. Mastery has no effect on Cobra Shot, which will now be your #1 source of damage.
Relic trait values change a bit — mostly they drop in value (not by much) in favor of item level. For me, Slithering Serpents is worth about 5 ilevel. Unleash the Beast and Spitting Cobra around 4, and Pack Leader/Jaws of Thunder/Wilderness Expert about 3.
The biggest change gear-wise is how well Qa’pla, Eredun War Order works with this build. It’s kind of been a forgotten legendary as of late, but with this build it’s one of the better legendaries. Simulation Craft also has an updated APL to better simulate its potential.
So should you play it?
If you want. It’s so close that it doesn’t matter. There are 3 main build options now: Stomp, Stomp w/ AOTB, and Dire Frenzy. They’re all pretty close at this point, but if you’re using T19 2p the Stomp builds will be ahead in most cases.
However, I wouldn’t get super comfortable with it as it’ll probably be obsolete next tier. The upcoming Tier 21 bonuses are all about buffing Kill Command, which is obviously going to favor Killer Cobra. Actually, it’ll still be pretty decent if you use the legendary boots since you get quite a few extra Kill Commands out of those.
Legendaries — they’re all kinda good now
Ever since legendaries got upgraded to 970, it’s been pretty crazy just how close in value they all are. I’ve mentioned this before (and also mention it in the Wowhead guide) but it’s worth emphasizing just how close they are. It’s why Prydaz is currently one of my personal best legendaries, which isn’t something I thought would happen, but it’s true. A solid neckpiece upgrade would probably change that, but I must say I do like having that shield again (Prydaz was my very first legendary way back when). Also, I’m using 3 set bonuses which takes the chest and shoulders off the table (those two are still quite good for a Dire Frenzy build). Sephuz is even ending up on many people’s best in slot lists, which is hilarious when you think back to how much of a meme that ring used to be.
Roar of the Seven Lions is the closest thing we have to an absolute best in slot — it doesn’t take up a tier slot, and unless you have a high ilevel replacement belt, it will probably be one of your best (though not dramatically so).
Anyway, not any real new info here. Just wanted to encourage people to check out other legendaries they may have written off. A month ago I never thought I’d be rocking Prydaz.
Beast Mastery is in need of some buffs
All you have to do is look at the Warcraft Logs statistics now that Tomb of Sargeras has been out for a while. BM is pretty mediocre overall. We’re OK on a couple of fights, mediocre on most, and downright dreadful on a couple of them.
I actually think our single target damage is decent. It’s not even close to top tier, but it’s at least okay. Our true weakness is cleave and AoE. We need more of it. Most other specs destroy us in this case. Part of the problem is a lack of damage, and the other problem is a lack of spread cleave (but I’m OK with the spec having a weakness like that, as long as it’s really good for bunched up cleave).
The argument non-Hunters tend to use is “well you can cast while moving, you should do less damage.” Yes, that makes sense for theoretical/simmed DPS (classes with movement restrictions can have higher skill/DPS ceilings), but we’re talking about real world DPS here. Beast Mastery is this low even when our freedom of movement is taken into consideration. That’s a problem.
What would I do? Not that it matters, but I think these things could help our situation without making us completely overpowered:
- Make Hati’s Beast Cleave do 100% damage (it currently does 75%).
- Make Hati’s Kill Command do 50% damage (it currently does roughly 30%).
- Revert Thunderslash back to 100% AP (it was nerfed to 50% AP) but keep the 35% Dire Frenzy specific nerf.
They’re small buffs, but it would help make our AoE damage a little more respectable and give just a tiny single target buff. I’ll take anything, though. Even table scraps, Blizzard.
Barrage could also be made viable for BM AoE. The opportunity cost of this talent is ridiculous, which is why it doesn’t work for BM at all, but it would work if it did a shit ton more damage. And I do mean a shit ton — like 150% more DPS. That’s not a number pulled out of my ass, that simply makes it a clearly better AoE option than Volley (as it should be since it’s an active ability)! Right now, even A Murder of Crows does more overall AoE damage than Barrage in most cases. That’s how horrendously bad Barrage is — it’s simply not worth the Focus and GCDs. Don’t even get me started how bad it is for single target.
Although I’d take it a step further and remove Barrage from BM completely and replace it with the 5.0 version of Lynx Rush. The 5.0 version was instant damage and crazy awesome burst, but they changed it to a bleed in 5.1 (because of PvP). I miss that ability!
Patch 7.3 PTR so far
Unfortunately there’s no hint of buffs on the 7.3 PTR yet. All we have is our new set bonuses, which look positively mediocre right now.
The 2-piece buffs Kill Command damage by 10% (a mere 3.5% single target increase) and the 4-piece reduces the Aspect of the Wild cooldown by 2 sec every time you use Kill Command. The 4-piece bonus works out to like an extra Aspect of the Wild on a boss fight (maybe 2 on a really long fight). Whoooopieeeeeee!! C’mon, Blizzard. I know this is a first pass, but do some napkin math on your first pass numbers at least. 😐 Convergence of Fates — a trinket that will be 2 tiers obsolete — will actually reduce the cooldown of Aspect of the Wild more than this bonus.
Since this will presumably be the final tier of the expansion, I was sort of hoping they’d give us some really cool game-changing bonuses.
Here are my fantasy BM T21 bonuses — certified to never happen!
- T21 2-piece: Kill Command deals 75% increased damage on targets below 20% health. (this is similar to a small increase to KC across the whole fight, but is much more interesting as an execute IMO, plus it’s called Kill Command…it makes sense!)
- T21 4-piece: Bestial Wrath causes the Hunter to take on the traits of a wild beast, gaining one of 3 random combat enhancements:
- Wrath of the Bear: Increases your Agility by 7500 and reduces damage taken by 30%.
- Wrath of the Wolf: Reduces the Focus cost of all abilities by 50% and increases your haste by 30%.
- Wrath of the Serpent: Your attacks have a chance to spit venom at your target, dealing 200,000 additional Nature damage, and your critical strike chance is increased by 30%.
- These numbers are all made up on the spot, but you get the general idea. Essentially it turns Bestial Wrath into a mega awesome cooldown that is a little different to play each time.
A Hunter can dream, right?
Update August 2nd: Kill Command, Cobra Shot, Multi-Shot, Stomp, Barrage, Chimaera Shot have been buffed by 4% in PTR build 24727. This is a pretty small single target buff, but as I said I think our single target wasn’t in need of tons of help, so smaller buffs like this make sense. However, our AoE is still left lacking IMO.
Update August 18th:
Blizzard reverted this small buff in the latest PTR build. No comment. 😡