BfA: Ideas to improve Beast Mastery Hunters in 8.0

The release of Battle for Azeroth is coming up fast. Quickly enough that I’m getting a bit worried about the state of Beast Mastery. My main concern is the talents as there are a lot of mandatory and just plain dead talents that will never be considered.

Beast Mastery in Legion is in a decent place depending on who you ask (at least compared to its launch state), but only because of artifact traits and a few specific builds that require different tier set, legendary, and trinket combos. In BfA this is all gone and the spec feels remarkably similar to how it was at the start of Legion. To be fair, there are some improvements like having Cobra Shot reduce the Kill Command cooldown. We don’t know to what extent Azerite armor will help with this, but I really think it needs to start with some better fundamentals.

Beast Mastery in Battle for Azeroth has not seen any serious changes since the pre-alpha BlizzCon build back in November, 2017.  Since alpha started, there have been minor tweaks here or there, but nothing substantial. So I think it’s safe to say BM is probably not getting the same treatment as MM and SV, and any hope for a re-design is off the table. The main hope for BM is tweaks to baseline abilities and a serious pass at the talents.

So with that in mind, here’s feedback and ideas to improve BM. I did a post similar to this before alpha started, but that was going in blind. Now I know what we have to work with. I’ve already sent a lot of this off to Blizzard via in-game feedback on the alpha but I figured I’d write it out in this form as well.

Disclaimer: This is one Hunter’s opinion. I’m not claiming to speak on behalf of all BM Hunters. I just want the spec to be good in BfA.

Core Ability Improvements

  • Bestial Wrath: Add Focus cost reduction.
    • Notes: Reduce downtime, improves gameplay like the legendary belt, reduce damage buff to compensate if necessary, also makes up for proposed removal of Aspect of the Wild.
  • Aspect of the Wild: Remove it and replace with another cooldown, like Stampede.
    • Notes: This is a weak cooldown that has been made even weaker in BFA. Its sole purpose is to stack with every 3rd or 4th Bestial Wrath, and you’d never want to bother using it outside of Bestial Wrath. By adding Focus cost reduction to Bestial Wrath you get a similar improvement without a needless button like this.
  • Stampede: Make baseline.
    • Note: This would be a button replacement for Aspect of the Wild. In its current state, it was never versatile enough to work as a talent (and I still believe that will be the case in BFA). As a baseline cooldown, it would work well even in its current form.
    • Note 2: But I think going back to old school Stampede would probably be best, even if it went back up to a full 5 minutes CD. Have it summon 4 pets from your stable, and have those pets obey both Kill Command and Beast Cleave at reduced damage.
  • Multi-Shot: Remove and replace with Chimaera Shot
    • Note: People have been begging for Chimaera Shot to be baseline since the Legion alpha, but I’m not sure just tacking it on as another shot you fire on cooldown every 15 seconds would add much to the gameplay experience. But making it the AoE shot instead of Multi-Shot could be interesting. It could still activate Beast Cleave, only now it costs Focus instead of generates like the talent version. I would rather have the Hunter do meaningful damage to a couple of targets than have Multi-Shot, a.k.a. “Beast Cleave Activator.”
    • Note 2: I wouldn’t be upset if Chimaera Shot was just added on as a free extra shot, I just don’t think it would add much since you’d simply use it every 15 sec without much thought.
  • New mini-cooldown: A replacement for Titan’s Thunder.
    • Notes: BM is already kind of simple, and it feels even more naked with Titan’s Thunder being removed. What I’m looking for here is a small cooldown in the 60-second range that interacts with Dire Frenzy/Beast.
    • Idea #1a (using Dire Frenzy): Unleash the Beast — Grants 1 charge of Dire Frenzy, and increases the damage of your next Dire Frenzy by 50%, plus an additional 50% per stack of Frenzy on your pet. Your next Dire Frenzy also generates double Focus.
    • Idea #1b (using Dire Beast talent): Beast Lord — Grants 1 charge of Dire Beast, and all of your currently summoned Dire Beasts have their duration extended by 8 seconds.
    • Idea #2: Focus Fire — Consume your pet’s Frenzy stacks, granting you 6% Haste and Attack Power per stack consumed for 15 seconds.
  • Wild Call: Wild Call has a 40% chance to activate on auto shot crits (up from 20%).
    • This is making the (pretty much mandatory) One with the Pack talent baseline (and removing it from the talent tree).
    • The spec plays infinitely better with this talent active. I am not talking about DPS numbers at all here, but just pure fun factor. Tune the numbers elsewhere to compensate. This is one of the biggest baseline improvements that can be made to the gameplay quality of the spec.
  • Kill Command: Give it a visual effect/projectile of some kind. The new pointing animation is an improvement over Legion, but it still needs some visual oomph for such an important attack. Here is a super fast photoshop job of what I’m thinking (just imagine it animated).

These proposed changes are centered around reducing overall downtime, increasing procs, and basically making the spec feel more alive and fun. DPS numbers can all be tuned later. Make it fun first.

Talent Improvements

Level 15
  • Big Game Hunter: This “reverse execute” window closes way too fast. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure no one really uses this. Blizzard would know with their own analytics.
    • Suggestion 1: Change it to work in both the >80% and <20% windows, but reduce it to 30% increased crit chance instead of 60%. Similar throughput increase, but makes it more usable.
    • Suggestion 2: Move Aspect of the Beast to this location. This is a crummy level 100 talent, but I think it could work well as a level 15 talent.
    • Suggestion 3: Sharpened Claws — Your pet’s basic attacks have a chance to apply a bleed to the target. Your shots deal 10% more damage to bleeding targets. — Adds a little pet and hunter interaction, even if it is passive.
    • UPDATE 4/14: Blizzard has removed Big Game Hunter and replaced it with Killer Instinct, a positive change. I like this here.
  • Animal Companion: This still doesn’t work so I can’t comment, but I think there is a large demand for dual pets, so it should probably stay.
  • Dire Beast: What if instead of just a simple damage-per-hit increase over Dire Frenzy, it had another secondary component? Example: Every Dire Beast active increases all your pet damage by 5% (stacking). It also fits in with the Dire Beast theme — the more pets you have out, the more powerful the whole zoo becomes.
Level 30

This one requires some work since I proposed making two of these baseline in the core abilities section above.

  • Dire Stable: Only 8 additional Focus seems really low (it used to be 12 Focus). It feels like a non-choice in comparison to One with the Pack.
    • Suggestion: In addition to the Focus regen, also increase the damage dealt by Dire Frenzy and Dire Beast by a small amount, just so the talent can be competitive.
  • One with the Pack: My suggestion was to make this baseline since it’s all but mandatory in this tier. It goes without saying that if this can’t be baseline, it has to stay as a talent somewhere. The spec needs it, even if it completely locks out a whole talent tier.
  • Chimaera Shot: I suggested that this replace Multi-Shot (same 40 Focus cost, also activates Beast Cleave).

Potential replacement talents in this tier:

  • Invigoration: You have a 6% chance per 10 Focus spent on Focus-costing attacks to trigger Invigoration. Invigoration reduces the Focus cost of your next 3 Focus-costing attacks by 50%.
  • Focused Strikes: Your pet’s basic attacks deal 100% more critical strike damage, and grant you 8 Focus when they critically strike.

Invigoration is actually the WoD version of Thrill of the Hunt, and I always thought it was a neat talent. Focused Strikes is similar to old Blink Strikes but with a Focus mechanic instead of blinking.

Level 45
  • Trailblazer: The only use I ever found for this talent was Mythic Imonar for bridge crossing. I guess it’s good for old raid transmog farming? It’s kind of “meh” though.
    • Suggestion 1: Have it activate when the Hunter has not taken damage for 3 seconds.
    • Suggestion 2: Aspect of the Pack — Passive. All raid members within 40 yards of the Hunter have their movement speed increased by 15%.
    • Suggestion 3: Prey Drive — Increases your movement speed by 15%, and reduces the cooldown of your pet’s Dash by 50% (effectively giving it permanent Dash).
  • Natural Mending: This is just a complicated way of knocking ~30 sec off the Exhilaration cooldown. I think there are options for a healing talent that fits BM’s theme better:
    • Suggestion 1: Mend Pet now heals your pet for 70% of its max health over the duration, and Exhilaration now heals you for 40% of your max health.
    • Suggestion 2: Kill Command heals the Hunter for 25% of the damage dealt.
  • Camouflage: Glad to have this back for BM. Fun talent for any sort of world/solo play.
Level 60
  • Venomous Bite: Remove it. You don’t really feel its effect in gameplay that much, and it is redundant with Dire Frenzy/Beast cooldown reduction.
    • Suggestion 1: Put in the Legion talent Bestial Fury here (15% Bestial Wrath damage).
    • Suggestion 2: Put Aspect of the Beast here (I know I suggested it for level 15, but this is another potential place for it!)
  • Thrill of the Hunt: I think this talent is fine. Not the most exciting, but it could provide some reward for good Dire Frenzy gameplay. Just needs to be numerically competitive with AMoC.
  • A Murder of Crows: Also fine.
Level 75
  • Born to be Wild: It’s basically the legendary bracer effect, and seems kind of decent. I think 35% like the bracers would be more appropriate (at least for BM/MM since they don’t get a tertiary benefit like SV does).
  • Posthaste: It’s fine.
  • Binding Shot: It’s fine. But as a root, I don’t see myself taking this very often. Might be nice if the range was extended to 40 yards and/or the root radius was increased.
Level 90
  • Stomp: This is fine. I think we’ve all grown to like Stomp. Also nice that it works with Dire Frenzy now.
  • Barrage: Remove. It doesn’t work with BM’s kit. The opportunity cost is too high for a spec with all instant attacks that cost a lot of resources and provide valuable cooldown reductions. This is a DPS loss on live in almost every situation, and will probably be the same for BFA. I think a better replacement would be some kind of AoE shot with pet interaction:
    • Suggestion 1: Wild Shot — Launch a volley of wild energy, hitting all enemies within 12 yards of your target. Any of your pets within range of the volley are empowered by the wild energy, increasing their damage done for 10 sec.
    • Broadheaded Ammunition: Grants 3 charges of Broadheaded Ammo. Your Cobra Shot and Multi-Shot (Chimaera Shot) consume these charges to lacerate your targets, causing them to bleed profusely over 10 seconds. All of your pets gain Blood Frenzy when bleeding targets are nearby, dealing increased damage based on the total number of bleeding targets.
    •  BM needs more talents that have the pets and hunter buffing each other.
  • Stampede: I suggested making this baseline since I don’t think it works well as a talent. It simply can’t compete with the likes of Stomp with its current restrictions. There’s lots of other options for pet AoE though.
    • Suggestion 1: Bloodthirsty Instinct — Kill Command now cleaves to one additional target within 12 yards. If no other targets are hit by Kill Command, the next Kill Command deals 10% additional damage.
    • Suggestion 2: Lynx Rush — Your pet rapidly charges from target to target, performing 8 attacks over 4 sec, split evenly among targets within 12 yards. Total damage is increased by 50% for each additional target. 1.5 min cooldown. Basically the same as the MoP talent, but gets better with more targets (to discourage it from automatically being best for single target). Kill Command should be usable during this 4 sec window.
    • Suggestion 3: Old school Stampede! Summon 4 other pets from your stable, have them perform Kill Command and Beast Cleave at reduced damage. I think this is what most people probably want, even if the cooldown was brought back up to 5 minutes. We all miss it.
Level 100:
  • Killer Cobra: Now that Cobra Shot reduces the cooldown of Kill Command by 1 sec, this talent has lost some value. You generally only need 2 Cobra Shots to reset Kill Command (factoring a Dire Frenzy/Beast thrown in), so resetting it in 1 Cobra Shot isn’t as valuable as it was in Legion. This could still be a good talent with a tweak.
    • Suggestion 1: Cobra Shot resets the cooldown of Kill Command and extends the duration of Bestial Wrath by 1 second. — By giving it this secondary benefit the talent should recoup its lost value.
    • Suggestion 2: Endless Wrath — Kill Command extends the duration of Bestial Wrath by 2 seconds and has a 50% chance to reset its own cooldown during Bestial Wrath.
  • Aspect of the Beast: Remove or transfer it. I suggested above that it could work well as a talent in the level 15 or 60 tiers, but it’s just plain underwhelming for a level 100 talent.
    • UPDATE 4/14: Blizzard has changed Aspect of the Beast. Different behavior but same theme. I would suggest changing the DPS portion to the old Bestial Fury effect instead of just buffing pet basic attacks. I’ll also leave my original suggested replacement below:
    • Suggestion: “Bestial Evolution” — When you use Bestial Wrath, you transform to take on the aspects of a random wild beast. Here’s 3 examples it could have:
      1. Wrath of the Wolf: Increased crit chance, and additional Focus cost reduction.
      2. Wrath of the Bear: Increased Bestial Wrath damage bonus, and damage taken reduction.
      3. Wrath of the Serpent: Increased haste, and your shots poison the target with a stacking Nature damage DoT.
    • It makes Bestial Wrath a little different every time you use it, but still keeps it passive like AOTB. Effects wise, they could overlay a spectral beast over the hunter so they look sort of partially transformed (I doubt we could get full transformation like a druid).
  • Spitting Cobra: Even though this feels a bit like BM getting Survival’s table scraps, this talent isn’t actually that bad. It’s just kind of boring.
    • Suggestion: Instead of auto attacks, it mimics/mirrors the Hunter’s Cobra Shots. So when the Hunter Cobra Shots, the snake also fires a Cobra Shot. This could even be taken further where it mimics Multi-Shot (hopefully Chimaera Shot) as well.
    • I think this would be more interesting to play, plus it would just feel powerful to have a beast assisting you in that manner.
    • Since this has been implemented, it has had a crappy 25ish yard range and it’s still not fixed. It should be at least 40, but I would prefer 45-50 so that if you were at max range and your target moved a bit, the snake could still hit it. This thing is up for 20 sec, so it’s a likely scenario.

I’ll continue to provide feedback on changes, but this will probably be my last post like this. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, I’m just trying to really drill this in because apparently we didn’t do enough of that leading up to Legion. Then I can say I at least tried.

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10 thoughts on “BfA: Ideas to improve Beast Mastery Hunters in 8.0”

  1. With only four months to BFA release, I’m equal parts pessimist and realist in saying that BM isn’t going to change at all. Blizzard isn’t going to put any time or effort into the spec. I will be very, very glad to be proven wrong. And I will be equally surprised.

    Having said all that, Bendak, they would be well served to take your ideas seriously and we’d certainly all have more fun as hunters if they did so. Thanks as always for the effort.

    1. I agree with you. At this point I think changes are highly unlikely… but like I said, I had to try. 😉

      My guess is Blizzard sees that a large number of people play the spec so that must mean it’s fine (in normal/heroic, it’s the 4th most popular DPS spec). Or maybe they just want to distribute the Hunter population across the 3 specs more (especially Survival) by only giving the other specs the new shiny things for people to try out. I think that’s plausible without going full tinfoil hat mode.

      But even if they don’t touch the core of the spec at all, there could be SO MANY improvements just by doing a serious pass on the talents.

      1. I think the tactic of dispersing is working. With the more mobile MM version + the melee/range hybrid most Beast mastery of all hunters SV…..I can’t help but feel that right now I am pondering giving up on BM.

        I mean, MM now let’s me have a pet without shifting talents. Less aimed shots and rng makes me nearly as mobile as bm Less downtime due to active focus regen….ok, sounds fun
        SV is appearantly all about hunter/pet synergy. I get to be melee so I don’t have to deal with all the crap that tends to appear under ranged people’s feet…yet the moment the boss does some ‘get away from him’ circle i can still engage him just fine (this haaaassss to come at some dps cut right?) …so ok, sounds fun.
        BM – same thing but only more boring due to legendaries + artifact traits gone…yeah.

        In the end I guess my choice will also depend on which class will do the most damage, but if the difference is close enough the fun factor might still make me not pick up BM.

  2. I want all of these, and perhaps with the old school Stampede… wouldn’t it be nice to call it Dire Stable as you’d likely want to summon all the best in your current pet bar? I started my BM hunter in WoD and I always had the glyph to use pets in my stable for Stampede.

  3. I’m still going to stick with the “Chimaera Shot as a ranged AoE Kill Command” opinion I posted in your previous article. Make it activate Beast Cleave if it hits a secondary target, more expensive than KC so it would not be worthwhile casting on single target.

  4. Excellent work, as usual. As someone stated above I am not too optimistic about any nice changes at all. I wish blizzard would just hire you to work on the Hunter class. More people need to know you so you can get a bigger audience. Maybe do more YouTube videos with this content?

  5. Love all of these suggestions. Chimeara replacing Multi is possibly my favorite of the whole bunch, and it’s just a “feels good” change vs an actual rotation/playstyle change.

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