There I was working away on some addon posts for y’all, oblivious to the howls. I knew there was another beta patch, but I hadn’t downloaded it yet. I’d been a bit sidetracked by Bluebear my feral druid, who had just dinged 60.
Anyway, I wanted to pop onto Big Red Kitty to check the link for one of my addons, but couldn’t get onto the site (his fame growth), so I hop over to Mania and there I see it – Beta Build 8926 – Pet Ability Number. The title looks tame enough – but then Mania appeals to people to, “keep the language within relatively tame bounds and avoid flaming each other or me [Mania]”. Oh ho! What’s going on? Mania herself is more interested in the pet changes, Worms looking good – acid spit stacking 5 times means sunder armor. But the comments are mostly concerned about the huge nerf to the buffed Aspect of the Viper. In the previous Beta build, AOTV gave hunters a way to regenerate mana very quickly. Yes, the hunter’s damage was reduced when Viper was on, but your mana bar when back up to full very quickly. It was fantastic. And it felt it too good, and sure to get hit by the nerf bat. Bam! It got hit. How much, I will have to see when I get on, downloading as we speak.
In my opinion, AOTV in the previous build was a beautiful thing, but it was overpowered. However, hunters do need a reliable way to regenerate a good proportion of their mana in combat. Since the changed to mana regeneration, and the greater reliance on spirit a while back, I and many hunters have had mana issues. Added to that, that some of the best damage gear we can get often doesn’t have much Intellect on it, and hunter gear has next to no spirit, and we have a problem. It also seems that the potion sickness hasn’t yet gone away in the beta, even if the icon for it has.
Elsewhere, people are talking hunter nerfs across the board – MMO Champion list the following changes:
Over on WoW insider the PVP hunters are QQing – Things don’t look pretty for PVP Hunters in 8926. Some of the skills that had been put in place to try to make hunters more feasible in arenas, giving them a way to combat rogues stunlock, or massive magical onslaughts, have been removed.
For an indepth and balanced discussion of these changes read Elitist Jerks WOTLK Hunter Thread from page 98 onwards (yes the thread is rather long!)
On the positive side, blue posts have indicated that this is the first of two balancing patches, and that things may change in the next patch. As always this is the Beta and things will be constantly changing. Blizzard aren’t out to do any one class down, that wouldn’t make good business sense, particularly if they target one of the most played classes. But they do need to make the game balance, both in PVE and PVP. Hunters has long been very strong in PVE, and good in some aspects of PVP but very poor in others. Hunters are very under-presented in the top arena teams and have acknowledged issues in arena.
With so many changes to the class already, to other classes and the fundamentals of the game (raid buffs and threat management), as well as the unknown changes yet to come, its very hard to speculate on how hunters will fair in PVE and PVP in future. We need to make our concerns know in a constructive way, backed up by evidence from testing, we need to make sure that we are not blinded to complacency by pretty new pets, but we also need to remember that it’s a balancing act and there are now 10 classes to balance.