Legion: Marksmanship is getting its pet back

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Seriously though, check out that dwarf! Lothar can’t believe that someone called him a Huntard to his face like that. Clearly they didn’t see that this dwarf was packing.  Let’s pretend he is a Marksmanship Hunter so that it’s relevant to this post.

The big news came in yesterday: Marksmanship’s pet is returning in Legion! Lone Wolf is coming back as a talent, only now it will be available at level 15. Here it is, straight from the sparkly dragon’s mouth:

Originally Posted by Celestalon (Official Forums)

  • One of the most common points of feedback we’ve heard is that all of the specs are cool on their own, but none of them maintain the existing “Hunter + Ranged Weapon + Single Pet” archetype that people have grown attached to (Survival is now Melee, Marksmanship has lost its pet, and Beast Mastery has added a ton of additional pets).
  • Marksmanship losing its pet has been one of the most impactful, but contentious changes we’ve made this expansion. We’re going to try returning the pet to Marksmanship, baseline, along with Lone Wolf as a level 15 talent (and very competitively tuned), so that this is a choice again.
  • Exotic Munitions is being removed, and Black Arrow will be moving down to where it was, since the Lone Wolf + Black Arrow combination proved to be very popular and fun (the newest version of Black Arrow, where the minion reliably spawns and taunts the target, that is).

So, why this change? What about Class Fantasy™ and all that?  I guess the player feedback trumped it in the end. I’ve seen quite a few comments from people saying that no one asked for this, that Blizzard is caving to casuals, etc.  Those people have to remember that just because they may not see this feedback readily — or hear it from prominent Hunters in the community — doesn’t mean that it’s not there. For one, there is the in-game feedback tool that alpha testers can use. I use this thing quite a bit, way more than the actual feedback I write in forum posts. All of that feedback is invisible to everyone but Blizzard. Not to mention all of the player comments and tweets that get buried under everything else.

I pay attention to all of the tweets and comments I get on my stuff, and I can tell you with certainty that way more of those people wanted a pet for Marksmanship than those who didn’t want one. Blizzard doesn’t always “give in” to this sort of thing, but there must be a cutoff point. Plus, we’re still in alpha. This is the time to make a change like that.

Our new reality. Learn to accept it!
Our new reality. Accept it.

My thoughts on it

This is what went through my head when I read the news: “Well, that’s cool.”

I had already accepted the fact that I will be playing Beast Mastery if I want a pet-focused spec, so this didn’t rock my world or anything like that. I’m happy to have the option because I enjoy Marksmanship (with the right talents anyway) and it will be nice to use my pet on occasion. More than this, I’m happy for the die hard Marksmanship + pet people who get their spec back.

The placement at level 15 instead of level 100 was pretty smart when you think about it from the perspective of a new Marksmanship Hunter. This is going to be their first big choice after picking a spec. If they don’t like pets, now they don’t have to suffer through a full 99 levels with one. Also, losing True Aim or Steady Focus does not make or break the spec.

Those worried that this will ruin the Marksmanship of their dreams shouldn’t be too concerned. Chances are Lone Wolf will get tuned so that it will be a great choice in the vast majority of circumstances. This could be Blizzard’s way of giving the pet back without drastically altering the original intended design of the spec in Legion.

There are also two other ways they could handle this. I’ve seen both of these suggested in several places:

  • Turn Lone Wolf into a talent that returns your pet instead. There might be some under-the-hood issues at play that prevent them from doing that.  Also, it just seems weird for a Hunter to have to talent into a pet.
  • Have Lone Wolf as a baseline passive for the spec. The main problem with this is that you can summon and dismiss your pet in combat. It might encourage Hunters to summon and dismiss their pet way too frequently. It’s also not very intuitive (especially for new players).

They said they were just going to “try” this, but I can’t see them backtracking on it a second time. I think it will stick. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out in the next build.

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28 thoughts on “Legion: Marksmanship is getting its pet back”

  1. I am looking forward to that next build. Although I do like the alpha BM compared to live. (I don’t care for the frenzy stack thing.) So whee pet MM

  2. Why not make the pet a “Stance”, not tied to a talent choice. with a long cooldown (like 10 minutes or so), and then work the specs around this?

    BM will obviously have the best output with the stance active, then make MM and SV have very different playstyles based on the pet stance.

  3. I am very glad Blizzard changed their minds on thistle two reasons.
    One, I’m a very casual player, only raid in LFR and felt I needed a pet because of spirit bond (please bring this back too!) to keep me alive – I tried lone wolf and it just is not for me.
    Two, I get a bow for an artifact weapon. Even as a dwarf guns just do not do it for me, really kills the fantasy of a game with swords and magic (I know I know dwarf riflemen are a huge part in the whole Warcraft series). Yeah I also know I could transmog the gun to any bow but no new weapon drops (reward skins from pvp?) not a lot of new skins and I have already been using my favorite bow model since transmog came out so another expansion with the same model again, I could not.
    All in all this has me more excited for Legion.

        1. I think that they confused live, with the alpha. I can check in the morning, but last i checked my BM hunter there had no traps. Maybe they got added back

  4. Very glad to have the pet back. I just could not get used to huntering without the pet in Alpha. I have many, many hunters, it is going to be a blast to have 3 super options.

    Still thrilled and honored to have gotten in to Alpha in the third round, right after the blogger/streamers and the raiders.

  5. I personally would prefer it as a baseline ability, only providing the damage bonus when you don’t have a pet. In other words, the current talent, but baseline.

    I am unhappy about Hunters who choose to go petless essentially losing a talent tier, and also with Exotic Munitions being removed to make room. I was really excited for the Exotic Munitions/Black Arrow/Careful Aim type of single target DoT spec. That idea is being slowly chipped away.

    Additionally, they still need to add a glyph or something to turn off the Black Arrow skeleton taunt, as that will be a big problem in group PvE.

  6. I am one of those that really wanted a pet + marksmanship. When I first started playing in 2007, this is what fit *my* class fantasy (and I was big into that back then). I went Hunter almost because I liked the idea of going out into the big wide world not alone, but with a pet companion.

    But marksmanship has always been my favorite spec fantasy-wise (tho not always gameplay-wise). I like the idea of the ranger/sniper and always have… but I still imagined my buddy there with me. Not as impactful as those hunters that specialize in beast mastery, but there to assist me and keep me company on those long hunts.

    Hunters have need of companion, too! Even marksmanship hunters.

  7. I’m definitely liking this change. BM is where I’ve always felt most at home so I think I will still mainspec it, but I’m also really drawn to the whole archer playstyle which MM is getting emphasised in Legion. Having a pet is the main thing I like about hunters, so no-pet for MM was a deal-breaker (and also a contributing factor to why I haven’t set foot in mythic HFC – the mandatory no-pet playstyle for higher-end raiding is a big turn-off). Glad to see it will be an option, while still hoping that LW will indeed be strong enough to make it viable for those who really enjoy their petless hunters.

    Personally I’m still a little worried about BM. Dire Frenzy sounds like a nice idea, but it’s going to be an either-or with Chim Shot which I can’t say I like the sound of. I still really think CS as baseline for BM would be a great idea. But I’m not on the alpha, so I will wait to see what those who are have to say on DF when it’s implemented…

  8. My only issue with this change is they also brought back the same fantasy in Beast Mastery with Dire Frenzy. I felt like we should’ve gotten one or the other, not both. I just hope Lone Wolf beats out the other two talent options at cap. I’d hate it if Lone Wolf was the weakest of the three and I’d be doing a disservice to my raid by playing the spec/class I wanted to play.

    And they’ve already shown they are indifferent to some feedback by making Survival melee and throwing the current Survival players out into the cold.

    1. Agreed with your comments, particularly the one about Blizzard and Survival. They didnt even make MM have a real dot spec to it. Whatever talents you choose wont affect the gameplay of it at all. The whole spec mechanic is based around Hunters Mark and getting stacks for the vulnerability buff. Anything feels like filler and not a real aspect of gameplay. I loved The mobile feel to SV and how they were turning it into a ranged dot spec. They didnt go near far enough with it and then just threw it away to go melee and gave SV players nothing in return.

    2. I don’t think the DireFrenzy and LoneWolf announcements bring back the same fantasy for both MM and BM.

      With BM your pet is a major part of your DPS and the main focus of your rotation.

      With MM your pet is minor part of your DPS and your rotation focuses around the Hunter rather than the pet.

      In other words the difference between MM and BM is pet-light vs pet-heavy.

      Both BM and MM get an extra “fantasy/playstyle” option.

      BM Hunters will have the option to focus on their main pet or lots of different pets.

      MM Hunters will have the option for pet-less or the SV/MM Hunter fantasy of the past 11 years.

      Apart from the pet(s) BM and MM also have different focus regen systems and rotations in Legion so I think it’s nice Blizzard tries to keep the traditional Hunter fantasy alive for both MM and BM.

  9. Finally! Some news out of Legion that is not disappointing. I might even give MM a try now that I can bring along My faithful companion StoneyCurtis. and get that bow that BM should have got in the first place. SV is still right out though.

  10. I think this is a good change. Probably not something I will use (I like not having a pet), but I like that they are realizing that they have gone too far with the new class design. Overall my main impression of the Alpha so far is that they are trying too hard to change the hunter, and I actually liked where we were, I just wanted fine tuning. And I don’t think I’m alone in this; we were the most popular class this expansion and all the specs got represented during most of it (until the massive SV nerf), so I see no reason at all to justify such a big change.

    MM has changed from what it has always been and not for the better (it now looks like a debuff spec with a gated dps system, which I really don’t understand how it meets the class fantasy idea), and the change to SV in today’s WoW I just can’t understand, when people can so easily change to a melee class (of which we are even getting a new one with the DH!). BM to me is looking best out of the 3 but it still has some base problems.

    1. I have enjoyed the SV. Interesting change. I have ten or fifteen hunters active at all times (100 or high 90s, this is not counting the spread of hunters of lower ages). Most of me will go Beastmaster, which has always been my norm, but I will have a few SV, and maybe even a couple Marks, if I like the final ‘with pet’ design.

  11. Awwww get in, that has made my day. I’ve still got my first pet, and
    the idea of playing without him really saddened me. I’m contrary
    about a lot as a Hunter, like never ever playing BM. Someone has
    to be.

  12. I was very disappointed to hear about this change for a number of reasons. I think Blizzard could have accomplished a return to this “class fantasy” in the Beast Mastery spec alone, and could have left Marksmanship out of it. I think this is a weak decision that we may pay for in the future.

    The three specs as we had them prior to this announcement represented three distinct flavors of “hunter”.

    1. Beast Mastery represents as close to the “one hunter, one pet” fantasy as you can get. It wouldn’t have been hard to talent in a way for the hunter to focus on one pet specifically. This is the route I feel Blizzard should have taken.

    2. Survival is very much the ‘Rexxar’ spec now, as Rexxar classically has a pet at his side while maiming you up close and personal. While Heroes manages to mess that up by having him throw said axes, this was a departure from his traditional style.

    3. Finally, Marksmanship hunter had the potential to represent another bow-wielding element of the World of Warcraft Universe.

    I’m curious, Blizzard, vis-à-vis this concept of “Hunter Class fantasy”. Remind me what Sylvanas’ trusty pet companion was? How about Allerias? Oh they didn’t have them? Right, because they’re Rangers.

    Fantastic, then lets make Ranger a playable class next expansion. No? Because they’re too much Hunters. Of course. Then we should see them truly represented in one of the three specs: Marksmanship.

    And this brings me to my biggest fear. It isn’t seeing a Marksmanship hunter with a pet. And it isn’t Lonewolf falling out of style if its numbers don’t stack up. It’s a far more insidious threat that I fear.

    Blizzard has shown time and again that they respect a player’s individual decision to play the spec they choose, and that much is reflected in the way we’ll be specializing in specific Artifact weapons come Legion. Blizzard has NOT been as considerate when it comes to individual talent points sharing time in the sun.

    If we force Marksmanship to be a no-pet class, that forces Blizzard to be creative with finding solutions to the problems we may encounter as a result of lacking such a pet. If there is solo-content we struggle with, Blizzard will balance us around it, find solutions for us that reflect and compliment the Lone Wolf playstyle. Especially as many of us will ONLY have a Marksmanship weapon, Blizzard will have to be sensitive about our decision to play that spec.

    The moment you introduce a variable like a talent that lets you choose whether or not to have a pet, you introduce a huge problem, and it’s not the fact that we now lose our on having a choice over an entire row of talents.

    What I’m afraid of is that board-room meeting where they are discussing Marksmanship issues for specific encounters/quests, etc, where the lone wolf spec is struggling as a result of missing their personal tank.
    I’m afraid of the developer that raises their hand and says “I don’t see why we’re wasting time and money trying to fix something that isn’t a problem. They can spec into a pet for 5 minutes. It’s one talent point. It’s not a big deal. Can we move on a real problem?”

    And in that instant a host of potential creative solutions for Marksmanship that could have spring-boarded around that meeting, ideas that could have been brilliant, get instantly and irrevocably curtailed by “just use the damn pet now that you have the option”.

    That’s my 12 cents.

    1. I agree with a lot of what you think but am glad they are adding the pet back, the most vanilla-ish hunter even with the announcement of the new BM talent/style with you plus one super pet and Hati is still too much focused on pet dps to feel like the hunter I want.

      I wish they added a fourth spec to the classes, MM petless ranger style, BM the way they are planning it, survival ranged plus pet mix of current mm and sv – could talent dot heavy or not, and fourth would be melee or my dream a hybrid range / melee with maybe 2 shots and 2 melee rotation and pet. Warriors maybe another dps spec with a shield and 1H, I don’t play warrior but maybe they’d want that or a different style tank option and have 2 dps 2 tank styles. Priests another dps spec using holy spells as some ideas. Maybe post-legion ?

  13. Blizzard caved… what a surprise. Now they have nerfed LW to the point that everyone will be using a pet. A pet for MM is nothing but set it and forget it. Its nothing but a damage boost and adds nothing to the gameplay of MM. This was a terrible decision.

    1. Not sure how it is a cave to give many hunters the fantasy THEY want. It is not your fantasy, but you can have that also. That makes it a winwin, does it not?
      Nerfed LW? Leatherworking? Confusing.

      1. I think they mean Lonewolf. Guess they missed the “it will be very competitively tuned” bit. And the bit about how the expansion Isn’t In Beta Even Yet, So It Is TOO EARLY to panic. Or that there will be numerous numbers passes beforehand and after it goes live.

        1. Oh, duh. I am the dumb. Makes sense now.
          Yeah, I hope they will balance it well. As a pet lover, I will even be happy if Lone Wolf is more powerful than having the pet. Then you can have all the raids, and they will kick MM’s who have pets. Go for it!

          1. I can’t help to think that the problem is that SV is going melee. If SV had stayed ranged you could provide one of the two with a pet and we wouldn’t be having these issues…

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