Good news! And no, my awesome matching talbuk mount and pet combos have nothing to do with it.
We’ve been complaining about our numbers for a while, but most of our evidence was based on simulations, which the devs were quick to dismiss. Now that we have actual logs to back it up, it’s becoming clear that hunters (at least BM and SV specs) are a teensy bit on the weak side right now.
Survival actually received some hotfix buffs on patch day: 12% to Explosive Shot, Black Arrow, and Serpent Sting, but it still wasn’t enough. Even Marksmanship — our top spec right now — is up to 50% behind the currently overpowered classes. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect perfect balance in a prepatch like this when most of the balance design is focused on level 100. However, the results for hunters at level 100 are mirroring the level 90 results, just not as dramatically.
I could have changed a few things in the large feedback post I published just a couple of hours ago if I would have known this was coming, but Celestalon and his impeccable timing posted this update for hunters about an hour afterwards. Thanks, Celestalon!
At least my post wasn’t all for naught. These announced changes are definite improvements in several areas but still leaves a lot of the marksmanship problems unanswered. Here we go…
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.
Survival and marksmanship are in need of some help in the damage department, and it’s coming soon.
This is both good news and bad news. Good news because numbers will start to become balanced. Bad news because it means most of the actual design is done. I’m personally most concerned about survival right now, but marksmanship has problems too depending on who you ask. The other specs have both a cooldown and execute. Survival feels strange without either. There is, however, some good news about Black Arrow.
Celestalon has been tweeting more about hunters, and we have some good news for both survival and marksmanship to talk about. None of these changes are in the build (or patch notes) yet, but they should hopefully make it in soon so we can test them.
Lock and Load
We’ll start with the survival changes. One is a nice quality of life change (and opens up some new gameplay avenues), and the other will help survival at lower multistrike levels. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, Black Arrow now procs 1 charge of Lock and Load every time it multistrikes.
Patch 6.0 at level 90 would have been really awkward without this baseline chance. If you have Haromm’s Talisman, you should be able to get around ~20% total multistrike with the appropriate raid buff (more if they add level 90 versions of the multistrike flasks and food) when patch 6.0 launches.
Ask any hunter who has played on beta, and they’ll probably tell you that survival feels a little empty without any baseline cooldowns or executes. We know Blizzard wants to push for survival to be the multidot/sustained damage spec, but many hunters feel it’s gone a bit too far. The good news is, it sounds like they are still mulling over the idea of survival having a cooldown.
Not too many changes to report here, though Celestalon did say this build was created in the middle of them adding a lot of changes, which is why some classes got more than others. Hunters were one of the classes missing out for this build.
New passive abilities
All classes received these new attunement abilities with a different stat for each spec. I’m not sure what the point of them is. Either they wish for these particular stats to be stronger for their respective specs, or they’re worried that these particular stats will have less value so they’re trying to balance them out.
The chosen stats make me think it’s the former. Beast Mastery definitely values mastery more than the others, and Survival is all about lots of smaller individual hits and ticks so there’s more chances for Multistrike to proc. I would have expected a haste boost for Marksmanship, but I suppose crit plays well with Enhanced Aimed Shot.
Well, that didn’t last very long.
R.I.P. Bear Trap, for the second time (it was originally slated to be added in Wrath before being removed in that beta). It sounds like there isn’t going to be a replacement either. When Celestalon says it’s “not needed without Readiness” I think he means one of the reasons they added Bear Trap in the first place was so Survival would have a DPS cooldown affected by the stat. However, now that Readiness is kaput, they feel like there’s no need for it.
Updated: The below post is now irrelevant as Celestalon tweeted there’s going to be another change to Lock and Load. Every time one of Black Arrow’s ticks multistrikes, it adds a stack of Lock and Load.
One of the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor for survival hunters is that every Black Arrow will guarantee at least one Lock and Load proc. Traps can no longer proc Lock and Load, which is why LnL itself has been removed and it’s now just a built-in component of Black Arrow.
Some hunters were wondering exactly how this guaranteed proc was going to work. Did it just mean that the final tick was always guaranteed to be a proc, or what? Turns out, that the guaranteed proc is randomly placed on one of the ticks, and it does this by determining how many procs you get on cast and then randomly placing them among the ticks.
Update: The raid utility has been announced. See here for details.
In the latest alpha patch notes, Blizzard stated they are currently working on adding a new “minor raid utility” ability for hunters in Warlords of Draenor. When asked on twitter, Celestalon replied that they are still open to suggestions.
I’ll get us started with a few ideas here:
- The Hunter’s Focus: Reduce the resource cost of all party and raid member spells (mana/rage/energy/etc.) by xx% for x seconds.
- Lay of the Land: Reduce AoE damage taken by raid and party members by xx% for x seconds.
Vicious Talons: Increase all party and raid member’s Multistrike rating by xxx for x seconds. (multistrike raid buff didn’t exist at the time of this post)
- Hunter’s Mark: Expose a weakness on your current target, increasing the critical strike chance of all party and raid members by xx% for x seconds.
- Pack Leader: All party and raid members can cast all spells while moving for x seconds.
Be sure to post your own ideas in the comments (or tweet them to Celestalon) and maybe we can get Blizzard to read them all. Just post whatever comes to mind. Even if it sounds ridiculous, it could spawn another idea. You may want to read the raid utility section of the official patch notes to learn more about their plans for it in Warlords. You’ll notice a lot of raid-wide damage buffs were removed, so something more defensive or utility oriented is probably more likely.