The Battle for Azeroth alpha is up on the test servers, and datamining is in full swing. I’ve poured over every bit of Hunter info I could find. I have some opinions on what I’ve seen, but it’s hard to say anything definitively until I can play myself. Streamers and influencers will probably have access to play this any day now, and then hopefully I’ll find a way in during the next waves.
My initial reaction to BM is pretty disappointing, but I don’t think they’ve put much work into it yet. A lot of it looks the same as it did 3 months ago at BlizzCon, and there’s obviously some placeholder stuff still there (like having Way of the Cobra as a talent when we only have 1 pet now). Nothing jumps out at me as exciting so far, but there are some pet things to discuss.
My initial reaction to the MM changes is pretty positive. Marking Targets RNG is gone, Vulnerable is gone, Steady Shot is back, and the whole talent tree is full of new stuff to explore. Also, it appears that Lone Wolf is a permanent passive now. No pets for MM, period. But I’m hoping Blizzard can come up with a compromise there without locking out a whole talent row for it (as it is today). I have some suggestions there.
Survival looks like it has many more ranged abilities, and to me it feels like it’s becoming disturbingly similar to Beast Mastery. In fact, one could almost argue it has more hunter/pet interplay than BM does at this point. I don’t want to say Survival is “stealing” abilities or talents that would be better suited to BM (or even MM), but I do question this direction. They’re adding so much ranged capability that I wonder if there’s even a point of keeping the spec as “melee” for the sake of appearances.
Despite my absence from this blog (and Twitter, etc.) I want you to know I’m still around. I’m still playing WoW when I get the time and I’m still raiding. My absence from the community is hard to explain without getting too personal. It boils down to some heavy stuff happening IRL and not having the time (or desire) to do any of this right now. It started as a world-turned-upside-down kind of thing that now maybe isn’t quite as bad as originally feared. A rough road ahead. So I’m sorry to say, but right now there’s no energy for this stuff. WoW is still a happy distraction that I wouldn’t give up though.
I’m still enjoying Legion quite a bit, still loyally playing BM spec for everything, and still doing quite well in any content I tackle. Now that I finally have all 3 golden traits I am much less motivated to grind out the Artifact Power. I used to not leave a scrap of it on the table, but now I’ll quite happily let some of those world quests expire. Grinding hard for Titan’s Thunder felt worthwhile, but grinding hard to get an extra 0.2% DPS a couple of days earlier than I would have (if I didn’t grind) isn’t very appealing at this point.
Alright, I knew Survival would be the unpopular Hunter spec going into Legion, but I didn’t think the disparity would be quite this severe. After a week of Emerald Nightmare, the numbers are in and it’s not pretty for Survival. As I write this, there are ~48,000 Hunter parses in Heroic Emerald Nightmare on Warcraft Logs thus far. Only ~660 of those are from Survival Hunters, along with ~36,000 Marksmanship and ~11,000 Beast Mastery. Those Survival numbers are pretty appalling.
First of all, yes, not all guilds upload their combat logs (or even keep any) but I think in the first week the vast majority of them doing Heroic content will be doing so, and these numbers should be fairly representative of what’s going on. When you add anecdotal evidence about seemingly never seeing Survival Hunters in the wild, it becomes pretty clear: Hardly anyone seems to be playing Survival.
Patch 7.0 is upon us and Hunters are… well, kind of different. The reaction I’ve seen to the new Hunter specs has been mixed to say the least. It’s probably more shocking if you didn’t put in any serious play time on the beta or PTR. These are new specs, and it’s pretty much a new class. So take a deep breath and give it at least a week. 😛
I’m not saying negative reactions are unwarranted because I had many of them myself. The difference is I’ve had about 6 months to adjust! Accepting these changes didn’t happen overnight for me. Don’t think I’m totally happy with everything either — far from it — but I also realize that at this point nothing serious is going to change. So I’m done with complaining about changes and giving feedback. It’s time to move forward.
If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend trying out all 3 specs. If you want an easy low-stress place to do that, just do some Timewalking dungeons. It will give you some perspective on where the whole class stands. Maybe you’ve always been a BM Hunter, but you’ll try Survival and love it? Who knows?
Personally, I’ve warmed up to the new BM. It’s not perfect, but I have fun playing it. And it’s even better (IMO) once you get Hati and are able to have two custom pets. Marksmanship feels kind of disjointed to me unless I am using the Sidewinders talent. Survival is mostly a curiosity. I’ve never been a fan of melee combat in WoW, but Harpooning around with your pet is pretty damn fun.
If you’re interested in playing Survival when patch 7.0 drops, you may be wondering what the heck you’re supposed to use for a weapon since you probably only own ranged weapons at the moment. Sure, you will be getting your Talonclaw on day one of Legion, but for the 4-5 weeks in the interim you will need something to poke demons with. Thankfully, Blizzard will be sending you a melee weapon to get started with. If that’s not enough, there are several other options to tide you over until Legion.
Option 1: Blizzard’s Weapon Insurance
All Hunters who login to patch 7.0 will receive an in-game mail from Blizzard informing them of the weapon change for Survival. Attached to the message is a Survivalist’s Hunting Spear polearm. Its item level will be different depending on your raiding progress in Hellfire Citadel:
No raid experience, or only LFR experience: ilvl 655
I am not sure what the threshold is for Blizzard thinking that you have the experience, but if I had to guess it would be something similar to how the raid caches from the ship yard work. So if you’re currently getting heroic raid caches from the ship yard, you can probably expect an ilvl 705 polearm. This is just an educated guess, they may have different requirements.
Hati’s death cooldown is now 30 seconds, down from 2 minutes.
Buffs all around for Beast Mastery with the exception of Chimaera Shot. It seems like they really don’t want it to be the default choice. I think they already succeeded in that with previous buffs to Stomp and Dire Frenzy, so I’m not sure this nerf was necessary. I felt like all 3 were pretty powerful in their own ways and relatively balanced.
The most interesting change here for me is the one to Killer Cobra. A couple of months ago, one of the builds actually had Killer Cobra function like this and it was pretty nice. It felt more powerful, as a level 100 talent should be. I think this could make it a much better competitor with Stampede. It makes Bestial Wraths a whole lot of fun. Tons of Kill Commands! The One With the Pack buff is nice but I still doubt it’s enough. Not while the majority of Wild Call procs are mostly wasted.
The buff to Hati’s death cooldown is a very welcome one. I’d still rather have control over resurrecting Hati myself immediately with Revive Pet, but at least it’s no longer a full 2 minute wait to get Hati back.
The glyph system in Legion is changing in several ways. First, there are no more major glyphs, only cosmetic minor glyphs. Second, glyphs are now applied to the affected ability directly and are consumable. You can no longer permanently learn a glyph. For example, when you right-click one of the Dire Beast glyphs it will open up your spellbook and highlight Dire Beast, which you then click to apply.
Hunters have a few cool glyphs and a few that could still use some work. I’ll explain them all below, but you can also watch this video to see them in action.
The latest alpha build (geez, it’s still alpha after 5 months?) is the start of class number tuning. Beast Mastery Hunters saw some fairly big numbers changes on both abilities and talents, a lot of them for the better. Survival and Marksmanship saw fewer adjustments. Here’s what Celestalon had to say about this build:
Tuning has started! A very rough pass has been made over all classes to get them into the same ballpark. Note that we have not yet finished a first tuning pass on artifacts yet; some specs are still significantly under- or over-powered with full artifacts. At this point, class mechanics are firm, but not necessarily set in stone yet.
The last sentence is the big one. Class mechanics are now “firm” but it looks like they’re not opposed to future changes. There has been a lot of feedback requesting changes to some aspects of the class, but Blizzard has stuck to their guns so far. At this point I wouldn’t expect any major changes to core mechanics, such as getting a traditional Focus generator back for BM.
Finally! Beast Mastery is unlocked on the Legion alpha. The current build has been unstable thus far so it’s difficult to get any serious testing done, but I did manage to complete the Titanstrike artifact quest line and complete a level. Having now played through all three Hunter artifact scenarios, I definitely think the one for Titanstrike is the most fun.
I’m not saying the other artifact scenarios are bad, but they have a disadvantage: They don’t take you back to Ulduar and have you interact with Mimiron and Thorim! That was definitely the coolest part of getting Titanstrike. It’s a mixture of killing things and completing simple environment puzzles (more like avoiding various forms of fire on the ground). Most of the talking is done by Mimiron and a new dwarf character that Mimiron hilariously keeps confusing with Brann Bronzebeard. There is an explanation for why Hati specifically is tied to the gun. Hati is a permanent second pet that you get whenever Titanstrike is equipped. So far it looks like the appearance is limited to the lightning wolf (like Skoll), but the color may change when you change Titanstrike’s color.
We’ll start with BM impressions then talk about other Hunter stuff from this build.
I need some Beast Mastery in my life. I’m just not feeling much of an attachment to SV or MM yet. I hate to say it, but Blizzard may have changed them too much for my liking. Normally I am receptive to change and try to see the positive side to this sort of thing, but I still haven’t been able to warm up to these new specs yet. I’ve tried. Trust me.
To be fair, it’s still incredibly early in the process. The Legion alpha/beta feels like it’s progressing slower than Warlords ever did (that may be because of the holiday break). There’s still a lot not there yet. Not just entire zones, but entire specs, entire abilities, and entire talents. Once SV and MM are polished experiences, I could feel very differently.
As for other Hunter news, it has been rather sparse lately. I still can’t tame any new pets, which was one of my favorite things to do during the Warlords beta. There are a few new beasts out there (like that awesome wolf in the header image), but there is still a bug with taming. Once that is fixed I plan on going out hunting and filling up the stable with everything new! I’m also excited to try out mechanical pets once that is sorted out.
One thing that has sprang up is some replacements for minor glyphs, such as Pet Training Manual: Play Dead, Pet Training Manual: Fetch, and The Art of Concealment (Chameleon is simply a rename of Aspect of the Beast). We don’t know how these manuals are acquired yet, but it looks like making your pet feign death could be a separate ability not tied to Feign Death. That may actually be handy for some things.
My overall opinion on Survival has not changed (read my previous posts on the subject). I still think the pet interaction isn’t quite there yet. That’s not what you want when only two specs can even use pets. I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until it’s truly dead: I think the Survival pet needs to stay beside the Hunter at all times in order for this to work. I will even give up some pet control to have this happen. I’ll leave it at that.
Mongoose Bite has changed quite a bit. Now the buff lasts 12 seconds instead of 3 seconds, BUT new Mongoose Bites do not extend the duration. In simplest terms, this has simplified the rotation and made it a little more forgiving. Prior to this you were encouraged to weave other abilities in between Mongoose Bites, and now you are encouraged to save up 3 stacks and burn them all in a row (and hope you get more procs before the 12 sec buff wears off). At the risk of sounding like a casual who doesn’t want a complex rotation, I prefer it this way to be honest.
Disengage has been removed from Survival. I will miss it dearly. The Posthaste talent has been adjusted so it works with Harpoon instead. Demon Hunters are melee and have the ability to quickly move backwards or forwards, but they are special snowflakes.
Aspect of the Cheetah now has a 3 minute cooldown, up from 1 minute (this applies to all 3 specs). So, we went from a nearly permanent 30% movement speed increase to a 3 minute sprinting cooldown. Not too happy about that, but I think movement enhancing abilities are getting toned down across the board so Demon Hunters can stand out more.
I really hope we get a Trap Launcher toggle back as I find that 80% of the time I am just dropping the trap at my feet anyway, and the extra click and trap aiming seem unnecessary for a melee spec.
Fury of the Eagle has a 45 second cooldown now, which makes a lot of sense. It had no cooldown before so you basically spammed it for free damage. Now that the Mongoose Bite buff lasts 12 seconds, you actually have time to fully use it.
It’s still super early and a lot can change. Some people feel the opposite, so don’t get too discouraged over my general lukewarm reception of Survival thus far. I never went in expecting to love playing in melee.
I’ve seen some people complain that Marksmanship is too squishy or it’s too hard to play without a pet while soloing/questing, but I think that’s because they are doing a lot of face tanking and expecting to survive. Marksmanship in Legion is all about kiting and slowing down your target, and in my opinion there are tools to do this adequately. You’re not going to be able to solo as well as Beast Mastery, but that is one of BM’s strengths.
You still take damage from ranged attacks and DoTs though, and the one thing I think Marksmanship does need is some kind of maintenance heal to replace the removed Kill Shot heal. I think every DPS spec in the game needs a maintenance ability like this, and right now all Marksmanship has is a 2-minute Exhilaration.
The Focus pool has been reduced to 100 from 120. I didn’t even notice until someone told me. With how fast Focus regenerates now, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Bursting Shot’s range was doubled to 20 yards (very nice). For reference, this ability gives a small knockback to enemies and confuses them (think Scatter Shot).
The 5th tier of PvP talents has completely changed. You choose between one of the following:
T.N.T.: Reduces the cooldown of Bursting Shot by 10 sec.
Explosive Shot: You fire an explosive charge at the target, stunning the target and dealing Fire damage every sec for 4 sec.
Freezing Arrow: Fires a Frozen Arrow, incapacitating the target and all nearby enemies within 6 yards of the target for 8 sec. Any damage caused will break the ice.
So, traps aren’t 100% removed from Marksmanship. They can at least have the option for one in PvP!