Edit: I have edited this post slightly in response to people’s questions in the comments (thank you to everyone who left a comment), and to my couple of hours play time on buggy patch night.
Patch 3.1 is going live today, the realms are currently down as I write this post, so I haven’t had chance to try out the new spec yet. When I wrote Survival Hunter Round 2, I expected it to be relevant for a couple of weeks before the patch hit, but now the info in there needs updating. I am writing a quick update now, as I do my own reading, and I will further update this post once I have tried it out.
The front runner for the top DPS spec from people over at Elitist Jerks, who have been trying out the new talents on the PTR and the hunter spreadsheet, appears to be a 1/15/55 spec.
There are a couple of changes worth noting. Firstly, the spec takes Aimed Shot. Previously some hunters used this, others did not take the point and used Multi Shot in their rotation. However, the redesigned Sniper Training now increased the damage of Aimed Shot, but not Multi Shot, therefore Aimed Shot should be your instant cast of choice.
The build takes Sniper Training but not Hawk Eye. This is due to the redesign of Sniper Training. Previously Sniper Training gave the hunter bonus damage if they were standing 30 yards or more from the target, hence the need for Hawk Eye. Now however, Sniper Training gives a 15sec bonus damage buff if you have stood still for 6secs. Hawk Eye is still nice to have for the extra range, but no longer part of the raiders max DPS talent build.
Trap Mastery is now 3 points and has been moved to Tier 2. It is worth having because it gives an extra 30% bonus to the period damage from you new key talent Black Arrow.
Similarly, 3/3 in Resourcefulness are taken because of its effect on the mana efficiency and cooldown of Black Arrow.
2. Shot rotation.
The Survival hunters biggest shot (after Kill Shot common to all hunters) is Explosive Shot, which does the following:
Shot rotations are based on a priority list:
1. Kill Shot
2. Black Arrow
3. Explosive Shot
4. Serpent Sting
5. Aimed Shot
6. Steady Shot
(If your raid is fighting 3 or more mobs at the same time, you are probably going to be gathering them up and AOEing them down using volley.)
3. Lock and Load
If Kill Shot is not available, you want to fire Explosive Shot whenever that is available. To give yourself even more Explosive Shots you want to get Lock and Load to proc whenever possible. Currently Lock and Load does the following:
*Note Arcane Shot also uses up a lock and load proc. In addition, it shares a cooldown with Explosive Shot. Explosive Shot does significantly more damage. Survival hunters almost never use Arcane Shot. Just take it off your toolbar.
You will now be using the new talent Black Arrow to proc your Lock and Load. Black Arrow does the following:
Other talents like Trap Mastery and Resourcefulness also improve Black Arrow. Fire Black Arrow whenever it is off cooldown (only Kill Shot takes priority). It’s the period damage that has the chance to proc Lock and Load. With Resourcefulness the cooldown is reduced to 24secs. It lasts 15 secs, so there are 9 secs in between when it is not possible to get a Lock and Load proc. Black Arrow counts as a trap and shares a cooldown with your other traps, so you cannot use traps to cover this gap. Serpent Sting no longer procs Lock and Load. However, Serpent Sting still does a reasonable amount of damage, so keep it in your rotation. In addition, Noxious Stings, means that ALL your damage is increased by 3% to a target affected by your Serpent Sting, so don’t forget your sting.
When Lock and Load Procs you want to change your rotation slightly. I used to get this wrong. I would just spam my Explosive Shots. This is a no no, and lowers DPS, as it overwrites the DOT the explosive shot leaves on the target. Instead, I now fire explosive shot > aimed shot > explosive shot > steady Shot, or something to that effect. Watching the explosive shot DOT, to make sure it has finished it’s last tick before applying the next one. My DPS is a lot higher since I worked this out.
4 SNIPER TRAINING
As I said before, Sniper Training has changed, so that you now do not need to be 30 yards away to get a damage increase, instead you need to have periods where you are able to stand still for 6secs at a time.
I am sure there’re going to be some fights where this will be hard to do, and other fights where you will want to try and time the periods in which you stand still i.e. make sure you stack the buff on you just after a tsunami in OS, or in good time before another is due.
5. Addons for the survival hunter
I will write a separate article on addons. I turned all my addons off when logging in for the first time to 3.1. However, the ones I would find it hard to live without are: OmniCC (which counts down your cooldowns on your spells); PowerAuras (which shows your when things need refreshing); Recount (damage meter); Omen (threat meter); and Deadly Boss Mod (raid help – tells me to “run away little girl” when a tsunami is about to hit in OS). I use a whole raft of other things, including Bartender4 and X-Perl to modify my UI, but I will try and play with the vanilla UI for the first few days of the patch, until I work out how well these guys work with the changes to action bar swapping for dual-specs.
I am a great fan of PowerAuras. I will write an article on Power Auras, which is quite a complicated addon, but well worth it. I use it for several things on my hunter and level 77 pally, but the big one for a survival spec is a big flashing Lock and Load Icon which shows when Lock and Load is available.
If you are familiar with PowerAuras you can use my Lock and Load Icon. You will need to import the following text into lock and load:
gcd:bofalse;soundfile:st;owntex:botrue;b:nu0.94509803921569; anim1:nu4;duration:nu0;g:nu0.98039215686275;thresholdinvert:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue;opt2:nu0;speed:nu2;stance:nu10; icon:stInterface\Icons\Ability_Hunter_LockAndLoad; size:nu0.29999998211861;torsion:nu1;multiids:st; stacksOperator:st=;realaura:nu1;mine:bofalse;optunitn:bofalse; x:nu0;inverse:bofalse;begin:nu1;off:bofalse;isdebuff:bofalse; timer:bofalse;customname:stLock and Load;target:bofalse; combat:nu0;wowtex:bofalse;groupany:bofalse;customsound:st; timerduration:nu0;exact:botrue;threshold:nu50; unitn:stOnly for raid/group.;bufftype:nu1; stacks:nu0;aurastextfont:nu1;party:bofalse;customtex:bofalse; focus:bofalse;isenchant:bofalse;raid:bofalse;isdebufftype:bofalse; texture:nu13;buffname:stLock and Load;anim2:nu0;opt1:nu0;r:nu1; randomcolor:bofalse;y:nu193;alpha:nu1;aurastext:st;textaura:bofalse; texmode:nu2;symetrie:nu0;ismounted:bofalse;targetfriend:bofalse; sound:nu0;isinraid:bofalse;finish:nu2
To do this, install powerauras, copy the string of blue text above, open powerauras in game by typing /powa, click the import button, paste the text string into the window that pops up, then click accept. (Hope this works, I had to put returns in to fit the text in.)
I intend to set up power auras to show clearly when the Sniper Training buff is active and when it has worn off, as well as when Black Arrow needs to be reapplied.
6. Kill Shot
Kill Shot will still do more damage than explosive shot, and so should still be fired when it is available as a priority. As you know, it has a long cooldown and can only be fired when the target is less than 20% health, but then you want to maximize it. Previously I hot keyed it separately and macroed in with my steady shot, so that if I go to fire a steady shot when Kill Shot is available, I would fire a Kill Shot instead:#showtooltip Steady Shot /cast kill Shot /cast Steady Shot Edit: This doesn’t work anymore Thanks to the reader who pointed out why. Kill Shot is now on the Global Cooldown (GCD) and you cannot have two spells in a cast macro that are on the GCD or not instant cast. A cast sequence macro might work. But as I always had kill shot hot keyed to the button next to steady shot in anycase, I will just have to move if I find myself firing steady shot as kill shot becomes available.
7. Glyphs for survival hunters
Up till now I have been using the following glyphs:
Improved Aspect of the Hawk
I didn’t change these from when I was MM specced. However, there are now some new glyphs added to the game, and the one for Kill Shot looks interesting for all hunters, while the one for Explosive Shot looks pretty mandatory for Survival Hunters.
I might go with glyphs of:
Explosive Shot – Increases the critical strike chance of explosive shot by 4%
Kill Shot – reduces the cooldown of Kill Shot by 6secs
These new glyphs are available from books of glyph mastery found as drops from nothrend monsters. Reading one learns a new random glyph. The patch notes do not say whether these books are BOP or only lootable by inscribers, or whether that can be traded, farmed for alts or sold on the ah. I hope it is the latter, my inscriber is level 70 and just sits in Dalaran making glyphs for the guild.
8. Gear Stats
Gear is about balance these days. Gone are the days when survival hunters ran around in rogue leather. Agility is still very important to us, but not quite as important as it once was, and Intellect is more important than it was, and is not something rogue gear comes with (you don’t need to be smart to be a rogue, just sneaky.) Look carefully at your talents, you agility, stamina and intellect will buff other talents, such as your attack power. Go with balance, and don’t forget the hit cap. Armor penetration has been buffed in this patch somewhat, and haste has been buffed for some melee classes, but not for hunters.
9. Raiding pet for survival hunters
The raptor used to be the number 1 DPS pet for the survival hunter. The raptors DPS may still be the highest, but changes to the wolf’s furious howl means that it might contribute more to the pet and hunters overall DPS. The wolf’s furious howl now only buffs the hunter not his party. However, it now stacks with other AP buffs such as Commanding Shout and Blessing of Might (previously these overwrote it). It is now like getting a double Blessing of Might, although the longer cooldown does mean it will not be up 100% of the time. The jury is still out on whether this will constitute more DPS than the raptor, but it could well do.
10. Other changes worth noting
Remember ammo now stacks to 1,000 in any bag slot. Ammo pouches and quivers no longer give haste. The 15% haste from them has been applied to all shots, but via auto shot. Most hunters will disgard their ammo pouches. The only reason to keep on is if you really intend on carry around 32,000 bullets. I think I might collapse under the weight of all that ammo. An added advantage of this is that you can now carry both arrows and bullets around with you, and swap between a gun and a bow/crossbow on the fly.
Some of the changes to Mana Regen may effect hunters –
“Mana Regeneration: The amount of mana regeneration derived from intellect and spirit has been reduced by 40%; however, talents that allow for mana regeneration while in combat have been increased. As a result, in-combat regeneration for classes with those talents will stay the same, while out-of-combat regeneration will be lower.”
I cannot see mention of them increasing maan regen from Aspect of the Viper, so I am not sure whether this is an undocumented change or not. However, they do say,
“Viper Sting redesigned: Stings the target, draining 4% of mana over 8 seconds (up to a maximum of 8% of the caster’s maximum mana), and energizing the hunter equal to 300% of the amount drained. Only one Sting per hunter can be active on any one target.”
Given that Serpent Sting is no longer causing Lock and Load procs (although remember it does give a 3% damage increase with Noxious Sting talents), it might be worth experimenting with applying Viper Sting if you have to go into Aspect of the Viper during a fight, in order to regen mana quicker and get out of Viper sooner. Without testing it, I don’t know if this (possibly shorter) period of Aspect of the VIper would yield higher overall DPS, than a slightly longer period with Serpent Sting remaining up (remember Serpent Sting does damage so also refunds mana from Aspect of the Viper).
Read the patch notes for the rest, there are a lot of changes both for hunters, and more generally. Don’t forget to go respec all your alts and visit your profession as well as class trainers to learn any new recipes or skills. Edit: I had to visit my trainer for extra ranks of explosive shot, aimed shot and black arrow (I think this was another bug, especially in the case of explosive shot, and one that cost me gold. It didn’t happen with my pally, low level warlock, or my friends on other classes.)
Check out the new Argent Crusade Tournament up in Icecrown on your level 80s, and the Dalaran fishing dailies on you fishermen or fishergnomes. If you are a hordie you can go buy some new mounts if you have faction rep, or get yourself a westfall chicken from the cluck quest (there is a guy in Brill selling the chicken feed).
Apparently they have fixed the cooldown on cower so that it displays correctly – shame they haven’t actually fixed the cower bug!
9. Concluding thoughts
It looks like survival is till going to provide the highest raid DPS, although MM should be closer than it was, with better mana efficiency and buffs to Piercing Shots and Wild Quiver.
I am now pretty comfortable playing all three specs, so I will pick the highest DPS one for raiding, and a BM tanking spec as my off spec. As it looks like SV is currently the higher DPS spec, I will be sticking with it, despite enjoying MM a lot. As for my off spec, well that’s another post, but I intend to go rep and mount farming in some old instances with my trusty bear, Beren, thunderstomping his way through the mobs – fun times