Cataclysms Hunter Changes Class Preview

This morning Nethaera posted the proposed Hunter changes in Cataclysm see blue post here for source.

The changes and my initial thoughts are as follows (blizzards announcement is in blue – my comments in black text):

With the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm many game elements will be changing, and each class will be receiving a number of tweaks. Here, we will explore the changes that are being made to the gun-wielding, pet-training hunter. The information you’re about to read is certainly not complete, and is only meant to act as a preview of some of the exciting new things to come. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the new hunter abilities!

New Hunter Abilities

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

>>  Seems to be an attempt to boost the damage of BM, as well as giving hunters versatility on either heavily armored or physical damage immune targets, although as most bosses armor has up till now been normalised I’m not sure how useful this will prove in pve and opposed to pvp.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

>>  I’ve wondered why they haven’t done this for a long time, a good change.  Survival hunters are going to see a jump in damage, particularly, being able to shoot traps onto a boss whilst standing still.  Also useful in pvp and arenas as well as having synergy with the camouflage skill.  There are a number of fights where I, as an MM hunter, would utilize traps more if it didn’t mean running in to melee range and then out again, and there are a couple of fights where I do, to the detriment of my damage (currently this will help a lot on Saurfang shooting slowing traps for the blood beasts, and on Lady Paletress in TOC 5man – who hates snake traps [if you have ever hand trouble with her, try snake traps, she smites the snakes instead of your healer]).  [EDIT:  Err I missed that little sentence which said 1minute cooldown – I minute cooldown??  Why a lesser cooldown that traps and the current freezing arrow, scrub what I said for increasing damage and use in arena, will help some, but not as much as it could have if it had the same cooldown timer as traps.

Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

>>  They talked about this before but never implemented it.  Sounds like a rogues stealth, how far it will work like stealth is to be seen (i.e. will other players be able to detect you in your ‘obscured state’ and will your movement be slowed).  Like a rogue can be broken by aoe, so is not going to save you from raid splash damage.  Maybe useful in executing difficult pulls (if your tank ever realizing that your class can pull easier than Taylor Lautner without his shirt on.), in arenas and pvp, and as an opening move (with the extra damage when attacking from camouflage).

OVERALL:  Interesting changes, but nothing to saw oh wow – now I might actually be able to beat the hybrid melee DPS classes on recount  (yeah, yeah I know all classes are being rebalanced, but still was hoping for something that looked more like pure DPS utility than this.)

Resource Mechanic Change

Here we come to the meat of the upcoming hunter changes.

  • Hunters will no longer use mana; instead the class will use Focus. Focus generates much like Energy, by building up. It will not be affected by Intellect at all. Haste will improve its generation. Hunters will generate roughly 6 Focus per second, slightly less than rogues’ Energy generation rate of around 10 Energy per second. Below, we have listed some examples of how we intend Focus costs to operate:
    • Steady Shot/Cobra Shot: No cost. Generates 9 Focus per shot (or 12 per second instead of 6).
    • Arcane Shot/Chimera Shot /Explosive Shot: 45 Focus.
    • Aimed Shot/Multi-Shot: 60 Focus.
    • Concussive Shot/Tranquilizing Shot: 35 Focus.
    • Rapid Fire/Master’s Call/Disengage: 30 Focus.

>>  It makes sense to remove mana and equally to replace it with Focus.  But until we see it on the PTR and get to play with it, we will be unable to tell whether they have the balance right or not, and how this will affect our rotations and play-style.  I hope they are aiming for something that does not make a hunter radically different to play,  and certainly something that does not gimp my DPS and burst damage.  Oh and DISENGAGE 30 FOCUS – no no and no.  Similarly rapid fire – yeah right, take away my focus before I use the ability I pop when I am about to unload a lot of burst damage or attempt to regen focus.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the resource change and new abilities listed above, we intend to make adjustments to some of the other abilities and mechanics you already know well. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we’re going for with each spec.

  • A major change coming for the hunter is the removal of ammunition. Guns, bows, and crossbows will now do damage without consuming ammunition at all. There will be no more ammo slot on the hunter’s character display. Any ammunition that a hunter has at the time of the change will become gray sellable items. Existing quivers will be converted into large bags — though each hunter can only have one and non-hunters will not benefit from this change — and we will not be making any additional quivers.

>>  Finally, they are removing consumable ammo…and replacing it with…err, nothing.  In the past they and bloggers have discussed non-consummable ammo acting as buff sticks or as items which add particular effects, say flaming arrows adding fire damage.  They have obviously decided that this is too complicated or imbalanced, so have just done away with it all together.  RPrs and realists may not like the change, or the change of the quiver animation (I know hunters who still carry a quiver, just because they like to see it on their back and the animation of their hunter reaching for an arrow when they fire), but I for one am happy not to have to stuff my bags with arrows or give my cash to engineers who have to right rep (a bug bear – I leveled an engineer alt to 450 to make bullets/arrows, just before they added the new ammo requiring exalted Ashen Verdict rep, which I don’t yet even have on my main, and will never get on my alt who doesn’t raid.)

  • Pet management will also change. Hunters will now have two types of attainable pets: active pets and stored pets. Hunters will be able to have up to three active pets (perhaps five for Beast Mastery specialized players) and will have the ability to switch among these pets any time they are out of combat, without going to town. They will also be able to have a large number of pets in storage at the stables. In order to swap a pet from active to passive, a hunter will still need to visit their local Stable Master. However, this should afford ample storage for the many Spirit Beasts wandering the lands of Azeroth.

>>  WOOT!!!!!! And WOO HOO!!!!!!!  Oh now if only I could go to a pet trainer and get back all those wonder beloved and rare pets I released back into the wild because I didn’t have enough stable slots.   Mania better start setting up for all those avid hunter pet collectors out there.

  • Additionally, hunters will now start with a race-appropriate pet at level 1 and will be able to tame a different pet at level 10. We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below:
    • Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).
    • Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy’s Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability Rampage).
    • Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).

>>  Another  couple of  WOOTS!  I have just leveled a new hunter to level 10 as part of the WHU guild for tonights event (/wave from Soupdragon).  It so alien to level a hunter form 1-10 without a pet (I even tried to send my penguin non-combat pet in to attack with my pet attack macro hot key out of habit).  Yes, it refreshed my shoot and scoot kiting, but that’s about all, and for someone coming new to the class its a slog and doesn’t give them a feel for the class or whether they will enjoy it until they get their precious pet at level 10.  So giving hunters a level 1 pet is long overdue imo.  I wonder what the race appropriate pets will be? (my guess Night Elf – Night Saber or owl; Dwarf – Bear; Draenai – Ravager; Human – boar maybe?: Worgen – wolf obviously; Orc – scoprion; Troll – raptor; Tauren – plainstrider or maybe swoop; bloodelf – dragonhawk; undead – bat or scarred wolf; goblin – hyena.)

>>  I love wolves, I alway have.  But I also love cats and hyenas and a couple of other families, so it will be nice to see some variety in raids, and to have to think about which pet you bring to best support your raid or your role.

  • Stings and other periodic effects will now benefit from haste and critical strike ratings. Hasted damage-over-time abilities do not lose duration, but instead add additional damage ticks.

>>  A buff here like the great T9 armor buff.

  • Viper Sting will now restore 9 Focus every 3 seconds.

>>  How much focus will I have and how fast will this restore it?  Doesn’t sound very quick – and extra 3 focus per sec when I already generate 6 per sec – doesn’t sound worth it.

  • We are reinforcing hunters as a ranged class. To this end, the class will now start with ranged abilities at level 1, and we will be removing some melee abilities, such as Mongoose Bite.

>>  I’m fine with this – as long as I have enough focus to disengage 😛

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Beast Mastery hunters will have a new talent called Careful Aim, which increases the damage of the next Steady Shot or Cobra Shot, but also increases the cast time of these abilities. The intention is to make the combination of spells into a decent damage opener, especially in conjunction with the new ability Camouflage.

>>  This and another couple of abilities seem to be buffing BM and making their rotations more varied and interesting.  Nice to see.

  • Beast Mastery hunters will also have talents that make Cobra Shot superior to Steady Shot, such as Longevity reducing the cast time of Cobra Shot to 1.5 seconds.

>>  Spamming Cobra Shot instead of Steady Shot?   But maybe with a couple of long cobra shots (working they way an opening aimed shot used to in the days when aimed shot had a cast time?)

  • Rapid Recuperation will cause Rapid Fire to give 20/40/60 Focus immediately and will cause Rapid Killing to generate 3 Focus per second.
  • Efficiency will reduce the Focus cost of Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot.
  • Thrill of the Hunt grants Focus when you land a critical strike.
  • Hunter vs. Wild increases the hunter’s Focus generation when his or her pet is snared, stunned, or rooted.

>>  Changing mana regen talents for focus regen talents.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Beast Mastery

  • Ranged Damage
  • Haste
  • Pet Damage

Pet Damage: Many of the passive benefits to pet damage will no longer be available in the Beast Mastery talent tree. However, these will be provided through the new Mastery mechanic.

>>  Predicable Mastery talent bonuses for BM, always the tree with more haste and pet damage.


  • Ranged Damage
  • Armor Penetration
  • Double Shot

>> Looks like ArmorPen may still be important for MM hunters.
Double Shot: The hunter will have a chance to launch a free attack off of the global cooldown for 50% damage.


  • Ranged Damage
  • Ranged Critical Damage
  • Elemental Damage

Elemental Damage: Hunter abilities such as traps, Black Arrow, and Explosive Shot will do elemental damage of the following types: Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow.

>>  Seem to be buffing the spell damage of Surv hunters.  MM about more physical damage, Surv about more spell damage – with the comment about cobra shot might there be a reason to switch between physical and magic damage for bosses who are immune to one type in the future?

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and ask that you provide your initial thoughts and feedback on what was presented here. Please keep in mind that what you’ve just reviewed is a work in progress and as we move closer to the Cataclysm beta, you’ll see these planned changes as well as others continue to develop in response to feedback and testing.

So that’s the changes, and my initial thoughts – what are your’s?  Please leave your comments below.


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