Category Archives: Hunter changes

Hunter Q&A

Ghostcrawler and the WOW Community Team have been publishing Q&As for each class.  The questions are supplied by the players, the responses by the game developers.  Let’s have a look at the hunter one. Developers comnents are in blue, questions in bold, my thoughts in normal black text.

As with all the Q&A sessions the answers are pretty sketchy on the details –  “safe answers to safe questions” anyone? (quote Randy Deluxe, The Instance Podcast).  At times they throw in some interesting tit-bits, or oft repeated but not yet implemented promises.  They also throw in a couple of things that if implemented could be good for the class, or could completely change (read break) the class if implemented incorrectly.  Worrying there are a couple of answers that suggest the person answering does not know the hunter class very well (survival hunters using arcane shot – d’oh) – this is very worry if these are the same people designing, changing and balancing the class.

I am also concerned that a fair bit of this was pvp centric.  Yes we have real problems in PVP, but I want reassurance that my DPS is going to stay at the top of the DPS charts with the other pure DPS classes, so that there will be a reason to bring me to high end-raids.  I still feel hunters do not appeal to other players enough as raid partners (like a mage does for instance), for them to think they are a must have in a raid, unless it is because of excellent DPS if well played.

We’d like start this Q&A off by asking a question that players of all classes often ask in regard to the very purpose of their class. In this case, we’re looking specifically at the hunter.

Q: Where do hunters fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do we see them going from this point forward?

A:  We solved a lot of perennial hunter problems in Wrath of the Lich King, from the shot clipping problems of Steady Shot, to bringing Survival back to life, and making pet choice and training a lot more meaningful and hopefully enjoyable. Going forward we have several objectives we still want to accomplish. We want to make sure hunters in PvP are as good in Arenas as they are in Battlegrounds. We think their damage is sufficient, so we want to focus on their survival and crowd control. We want to make sure their PvE utility is as good as their dps (especially making traps live up to their potential for crowd control). We want to resolve what a hunter is supposed to do in melee (Raptor Strike? Disengage?).

I would question whether they have really ‘bought survival back to life’.  Yes they have made it the top DPS tree for raiding, and many hunters like myself have turned to it.  But in the process they have broken it’s trapping abilities and removed its previous signature raid-wide buff.  I am glad they wish to make ‘traps live up to their potential for crowd control’ – there was a time I used to chain-trap throughout the entire Moroes fight in Kara, whilst still being top or close to top on the DPS chart.  Currently, with Black Arrow sharing a cooldown with my Freezing Trap, I cannot even use an emergency trap to save my healer (yeay for Wyvern Sting.)  As a hunter who almost never PVPs, I rarely have my melee skills on my toolbar, be happy for them to give me a reason to find space for them again 🙂

We want to clean up some of the clunkiness that still exists around pet control (both the UI itself and what the pet does on the battlefield). We think hunters have a good niche as the only real ranged damage-dealer that focuses on (mostly) physical damage based on a weapon rather than cast-time based spells. We just want to make sure they live up to that niche.

I agree about the pet control, although they seem to be thinking pvp again here, I need more pet control or AI in pve, so that he can survive fights like OS and Heigan.  It’s interesting they think of us as a ‘(mostly) physical damage’ dealer rather than have ‘cast-time based spells’.  Most of my damage comes from fire damage (explosive shot), shadow damage (Black Arrow), and nature damage (serpent sting), yes there’s a chunk from auto, steady and my pet, but with steady’s cast time, many shots not been true auto casts and so many cooldowns, I think this is an interesting perspective.

Q: It was stated that we had intended to remove consumable ammunition from the game for patch 3.1.0, However, due to certain functionality not being ready in time, the change was put on hold. Is there any new information in regards to the functionality of non-consumable ammunition, and also a possible estimate as to when hunters may expect to see these changes implemented?

A:  From a technical standpoint, what happened is that the quiver is considered a bag just like other bags on the character but also, most critically, those in the bank. In order to remove ammo we would have to move the location of all of a character’s bank slots on the database that stores all of the World of Warcraft characters, which would be a risky thing to do in the middle of an expansion, and could result in “missing stuff” issues if something went wrong. It was just one of those last-minute show-stoppers.

We still want to make ammo more of a gear choice than a consumable. We’re not sure if this would be as simple as getting the 125 dps arrows to upgrade your 120 dps arrows, or if you would do things like swap between your fire and poison arrows??? but that kind of thing is definitely on the table.
I’m not sure when we can do it right. It’s not going to be for 3.2 unfortunately.

A lot of feedback on the forums seems to indicate that hunters would very much like to see different types of arrows in the game.  People mention crippling poison arrows in pvp, in the way rogues can apply crippling poison to a weapon.  This is a carrot they keep dangling, please sort it out Blizzard.


Q: On the topic of hunter ammunition, currently, it becomes quite expensive for hunters to purchase Mammoth Cutters and Saronite Razorheads, especially given how much many hunters use in a given week. Are there any plans to reduce the cost, by potentially looking into the materials required to craft both types of ammunition?

A: The problem with upgrading hunter ammo currently is how we work the progression. We don’t want to drop ammo on bosses for what I hope are obvious reasons so long as they are consumed. We need to have ammo improve as other gear improves, however, or the hunter overall starts to fall behind. Therefore there has to be some barrier that stops freshly leveled hunters from getting the best ammo while letting cutting-edge hunters procure it. In Burning Crusade, we handled this through a reputation grind, but it still wasn’t a very satisfying answer. In Wrath of the Lich King, we went with Engineer-crafted ammo and more recently changed the way ranged weapons scaled so that they would keep improving even if the ammo did not.

This answer makes me very angry.  Ghostcrawler recently acknowledged that ammo was too expensive and as you see below they are fixing it.  But its obviously they deliberately price fixed the ammo at this high price for so long, to attempt to keep fresh hunters away from the best ammo.  By doing so, they made hunters the most expensive class by far to raid with (don’t disagree warriors, I have compared prices with my tank friends, my armor bills aren’t that far behind, when you factor in ammo costs my raiding costs me significantly more).  And actually, as a new raider, I also when out and bought the best arrows, I felt I had to do what I could, perhaps even more so when my gear was sub-optimal.

Oh and on a side-note, can you please put some more damned ranged weapons in the game.  I have been raiding for over 6-months at end game, and the range weapon I have now has the same DPS as the one I started with.  The only other one that could have dropped for me in 10-mans has not dropped.  You are telling me ranged weapons are scaling, but I am not scaling as I can’t get my hands on another one until either Kel Thuzad plays nice or I get further into Ulduar.  Yeah, yeah, you might say I should do 25-mans (there aren’t too many ranged weapons there either), but at the beginning of the expansion Blizzard promised me I could be a 10-man raider if that’s what I wanted and progress that way.

For 3.2 we lowered the cost of the ammo quite a bit — only 4 gold for a stack to manufacture. If you were paying 50 gold a night, that should drop to say 16 gold a night. Long-term this won’t be a problem because arrows won’t be consumed.

Err, by my reckoning my armor bill is around 10G behind my tank, that still makes me more expensive to raid with (plus I chug mana pots, and drink like nobody’s business.)  Get on with it Blizzard.

Q: While we had previously reduced the range of the hunter’s dead zone, it’s still brought up as a concern. Is it possible to remove the dead zone completely? If this is not something under current consideration, what are the current design philosophies and balance reasons behind keeping this particular mechanic in-game?

A: It’s possible to do so technically, but something we aren’t likely to do. Personally I think calling the current implementation a dead zone is just confusing and trying to sell the problem as worse than it is. Back in the day there was an actual distance at which neither ranged nor melee attacks would work – it was a dead zone. Currently there is just a minimum range for most ranged attacks. The way we want the hunter to work is that when you get into min range with the hunter, then the hunter needs to switch to melee, or more likely escape back to ranged distance again. We certainly don’t want the hunter to unload with both melee and ranged attacks at once – that might make them operate better at melee than range. Casters by contrast don’t have to do this, though it is often in their best interest to do so since their cast can get delayed or even interrupted by melee attacks. You can argue it’s goofy to be firing bows or rifles at point-blank range, but really it gets more into how we want the hunter (and all ranged weapon attacks) to work.

I think the small death zone is an interesting mechanic and I am happy with the way it works, even if it means that in my occasional forays into pvp I might sometimes meet with a good frost mage who knows how to play and can keep me frozen while dancing around me just inside my dead zone – hats off to him.  In pve it means I sometimes have to risk taking a little more damage than the group when everyone is told to stand on top of the tank, but that’s fine too – I’m a sniper not one of the crowd 🙂

I’ll add that the melee attack issue for hunters themselves is something we keep discussing. While we are unlikely to go back to a melee-focused build for hunters, we might consider a model where hunters don’t run away most of the time but switch to melee attacks – perhaps even a single punishing attack on a cooldown before the hunter Disengaged or whatever. This would be one of those things that helped hunters feel more different than actual magic casters, and might make them care about melee weapons as more than stat sticks. Additional feedback from the community on this sort of thing would be appreciated.

I don’t want to stand and melee, I do want to get out to range.  A single punishing attack, which perhaps also stunned the target would be neat.  Also something that allowed me to get out of a stun lock and back to range would be even better (even if it was on a long cooldown).

Q: Would we consider allowing auto-shoot to work while moving? If there aren’t plans for that specific change, is there anything in the works that will assist hunter dps in fights where a great deal of movement becomes necessary?

A: Moving should feel like a penalty. We don’t want ranged attackers constantly circle strafing FPS-style because it confers a defensive advantage without giving up an offensive one. Moving is supposed to be bad and how you handle it is a test of your skill. We do give instant cast spells to some classes, but it should always be a dps loss when they have to focus on these exclusively. We would consider giving hunters another way to pull off an instant shot or beef up their dots, but we would want to make sure these would only be used in true long-distance movement situations. What I mean by that is we think we’ve possibly already gone too far towards balancing the Arena around instant attacks that can’t be countered before they go off.

I would like to auto shoot while moving, it makes sense from a mechanics point of view (although perhaps there might be a penalty, say higher miss rate and slower rate of shots), but I can see why implementing it might give them a balance problem.  On the other hand, we suck in arena, so I am not sure why they are worried about buffing us in arena.  However, I am not sure this is a game breaking change either way, hunters have a few instant shots that can use on the run, and if you have a swing timer, you can run, stop and briefly auto shot, before running again.  For high movement pve fights an MM spec works well as it has more bigger-hitting instant shots available (or so it seem to me).

Q: Are there any long term plans to possibly removing the need for hunters to rely on a different resource system then mana?

A: I hate to do this to you, but this is a great BlizzCon question. For these Q&As, we’d like to keep the focus on each class’s current status and short-term plans, but at BlizzCon we’ll be happy to go into some more detail on our long-term vision for them.

This sounds like a yes.  It also sounds like it might be something we don’t see for a while, maybe the next expansion.  It also makes me panic a bit.  It would revolutionize the class, it could be great, I have bigger mana issues than other mana users, but it could also be class breaking if they screwed it up.  And I don’t just mean making the class uncompetitive, I mean making it so that hunters who love their hunters do not like the new mechanic and no longer want to play them.  It could be exciting, but I do hope they give it the attention it needs and get it right.

Doing it right, also means re-itemizing all the gear correctly.  It annoys me intensely to level a paladin through the Outlands and find all this Paladin plate mean for ret  and prot paladins, which still has spell power and/or int on it along with strength and stamina.

Q: Are there any plans to increase the benefit hunters gain from haste?

A: There are two ways to answer this question. The more general one, which applies to all classes, is that we want haste to be a useful stat. Rogues, warriors, and some casters like it currently, and we need to get it there for everyone. As I have said in several of the Q&As, some stats have just fallen away from some specs even though they routinely appears on your gear. Sometimes this happens because talents prop up other stats so much that instead of being more attractive, they feel mandatory, and the ones that aren’t supported go from sub-optimal to junk status. We need the ability to put a variety of stats on your gear. We don’t want there to be an uber stat for anyone that trumps everything else to the point at which you don’t even look at the other stats. Gear is supposed to be a choice. I’ll say again that I think the online community sometimes focuses too much on the best-in-slot mentality, to the extent at which they consider everything except those BiS items to be worth skipping over. Remember, if it improves your dps, it’s an upgrade, even if another item would improve it more. That sounds so obvious, but I think there is a tendency for some players to stop thinking that way.

Now for hunters specifically, we think the class is just too cooldown limited, which creates problems with haste. We’ve driven in that direction in order to give hunters a more interesting rotation, and to be fair, we feel like we’ve done that. But being cooldown limited isn’t necessarily a fun way for the class to play and we think it’s one of those things that makes hunters feel more like casters than like ranged-weapon users. (Hunters are casters in the sense that they’re ranged dps, but we still want the emphasis to be on the gun or bow.) More on this at BlizzCon, too.

The second paragraph sounds interesting and encouraging.  I agree that for Surv and MM hunters that have made the shot rotations much more exciting that the old method of spamming Steady Shot or a shot rotation macro.  I also agree that the cooldowns are frustrating, and that one could still have an optimum DPS shot rotation without so many cooldowns, which might actually make more research you class more, because you might need to know that just because something was off cooldown, it didn’t mean it was a good idea to use it.  I also think that less cooldowns might give me more flexibility to change my shot for the situation, if I need to move a lot I might be able to use more instant shots for instance, even though that might be lower DPS than my optimal standing still rotation.  What I wouldn’t like though, is something like the DK rune system, which is what I worry they might be considering.  Maybe it’s just because I am a newb DK, but I find that overly complicated.

Q: How do we feel about the current state of stings? Are there any improvements planned for the way stings work, such as removing them from a shared global cooldown (GCD)? Are there current plans to improve individual stings?

A: The best way to describe stings is we want them to feel like warlock curses. They should be a meaningful part of your rotation and something you should want to keep up. We understand that some of the stings are much more attractive than others (though to be fair, curses have a similar problem) and we need to make the less-popular stings more useful or just end up cutting them. We aren’t likely to remove any damage-dealing ability from the GCD and we’ve even taken a second look at whether we have removed too many defensive abilities from the GCD. It’s there for a reason, particularly in a client-server based game with inherent Internet lag.

At the moment hunters need a very good reason to use any sting other than Serpent Sting.  I don’t even know why I have the others on my toolbar.  It might be better to allow hunters to put up multiple stings, but to escalate the mana cost for stings 2 and 3 as they go on the target.  So you could use both serpent and viper sting on a target but it would be very expensive mana wise for you.  Just a thought off the top of my head, may be a stupid one, but I can’t see how else to make me stop using Serpent Sting – I’m a pure DPSer after all – I am in a raid to primarily do DPS and need to maximize that where I can.

Q: Beast Mastery falls behind Marksmanship and Survival in regards to DPS, especially when the pet dies, due to how much damage comes from the pet when specialized in the Beast Mastery talent tree. Do we have plans to bring the potential damage the Beast Mastery tree offers to be more on par with what’s currently possible with Survival and Marksmanship?

A: Ideally, we want Beast Mastery to be able to do competitive damage with Survival and Marksmanship. Realistically with dps classes, it’s a math problem, and one tree nearly always edges out the other ones in most situations. That doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it also means we have to be realistic about what it will take to really get the specs to within 1% dps of each other, which is sometimes the point I fear we’d need to hit.

This is not what they said a while back.  When they made the nerf to BM, Ghostcrawler explained it saying BM had an easier rotation than MM and Surv and they generally rewarded specs that were more difficult to master (or something like that).  I kind of agree with this, and I was a die-hard BM, until they forced me to switch.  However, there is an art to keeping your pet alive which should also be considered.  But when a pet does over 50% of your damage, its a very forgiving class to play.  Your shot rotation (which is easier anyway), can be very sub-optimal and the DPS drop will not be so great (as it only affects half you DPS, you pets rotation is not under your inexpert control) as if you were playing a mage or even an MM hunter, where the pet is a much smaller part of your DPS.

I would be happy to see the three spec fairly close but not the same, so that for casual raiders they could raid BM, but that for serious raiders, that might not be an optimal choice.  BM is a great choice for leveling, soloing and tanking, and also maybe pvp.  It would be nice to see the specs differentiated more – A druid has specs that are obviously for caster dps, healing, tanking and melee DPS, why can’t a hunter have optimal specs for raiding, pvp, soloing, off-tanking?  Why do we think each tree should be capable of the same damage output in a raid?  It might be good to have a couple of raid spec choices to suit play styles, situations, or complement raid make ups, but I don’t want three homogenized trees.  I am OK with some specs doing less damage, if they have more functionality in other areas. but I do want at least one clear pure DPS raid spec that is going to make me competitive with any other DPS class in the game for raiding.

The buffs to Catlike Reflexes and Wild Hunt were intended to boost Beast Mastery a little without causing every hunter in the game to swing back to Beast Mastery the way they all swung to Survival a few patches ago.

…err you made us swing to Surv.  This sounds as if it was a deliberate choice on our part, it wasn’t, it was a deliberate move on yours, and many of us moved very reluctantly.

We don’t necessarily like buffing Beast Mastery through the pet all the time. However, Beast Mastery also doesn’t have a signature attack like Chimera or Explosive Shot. At the same time, we don’t necessarily want to give them one because then Arcane Shot risks just vanishing from the hunter rotation. But, we can’t just buff Arcane Shot (unless it is very deep in Beast Mastery) because Survival and Marks use that too. See the problem?

…err when do Surv hunters use Arcane Shot?  It is not even on my toolbar, as it shares a cooldown with Explosive Shot.  If you want it to be the signature BM shot, make it share a cooldown with Chimera shot, and then either give MM another instant cast to replace it, or allow them a shorter cooldown on aimed shot or something.

Alternatively, perhaps you could replace a lesser talent in the BM tree like Invigoration:  “When your pet scores a critical hit with a special shot you have a 100% change to fire <insert special shot here>” or something.

Ultimately the tree is supposed to be about pets, so we would rather make the pet easier to control and give the hunter ways to get the pet out of trouble so that they don’t face the profound dps loss of pet death. And even then, having a pet that is 50% or more of your dps is always going to have design problems, so we can’t go overboard. Beast Mastery and Demonology (and even the Unholy death knight) are going to be at a greater loss when their pet dies. That’s just the cost of having a more powerful pet.

Q: In regards to the survivability to hunter pets are there plans to make additional improvements? The resilience change should help somewhat in PvP, however in end-game PvE environments, the hunter’s pet can die pretty easily, especially given the specific encounter. One suggestion made by many hunters was to add a passive ability that healed the hunter’s pet when the hunter received a heal from a party or raid member.

A: Honestly, we aren’t happy with some of the current solutions to keeping pets alive. In particular, the area damage avoidance mechanics just don’t work well. They are frustrating for other players in a PvP setting when Bladestorm or Arcane Explosion can’t really hurt pets, and they don’t keep pets alive on a 5 million damage Mimiron missile. What we really need is a system where certain PvE attacks just don’t hurt the pet (maybe they can’t set off Mimiron mines for instance). We don’t want players to have to pay the price because the pet AI is in fact just an AI. This is something we’re working on.

We’d rather not have to come up with additional mechanics needed to heal pets or keep them alive. We’d rather just the pet didn’t die in situations where a player that can make intelligent choices wouldn’t have died. Hunters do have abilities to heal or rez pets, and those ideally should be sufficient.

BRK came up with one solution a while back that would help somewhat…give the hunter the ability to choose where the pet would attack from.  There are a number of fights, where the melee DPS cluster around the tank, or on the flanks of a mob rather than behind it, being able to tell the pet to do this too would help keep him out of void zones, poison clouds, and tsunamis as the tank kites the boss around.  On a similar theme, why couldn’t the pet be made afraid of certain things when cower is on, as a real animal would.  So he would run out of the way of a fire tsunami in OS for instance.

Q: As a follow-up to the previous question, do we have plans to make it easier for the hunter to bring a dead pet back to life, such as reducing the casting time of the base ability?

A: We talk about this a lot, but the trade off would be a much more fragile pet. In some ways we think a system might work better where the pets were easy to kill, especially in PvP, but the hunter (or warlock) could bring them back say every 30 seconds or so without a huge loss to personal dps. But in that situation, we would nerf pet health quite a bit so that the pets would crumple quickly when focused. The death knight (especially with an unglyphed Ghoul) works a little more like this currently – they have like 12K health without the glyph. But to make this change we would have to solve the PvE pet-gibbing mechanics referenced above.

To be clear, this is a hypothetical different model than I’ve been talking about in the rest of this Q&A. I don’t want to confuse anyone by saying pets should both be hard to kill and hard to rez, and easy to kill and easy to rez.

It’s called Heart of the Phoenix people.  I talent my pets with this talent, at the cost of one DPS talent point.  If I was a pvper I would want the cooldown shorter than 10mins, but for pve it’s not too bad.

Q: The Cunning pet-type was originally designed to be optimal for PvP use, however, most hunters feel that the Cunning pet-type falls short. How do we feel about the current state of what Cunning pets are offering, and are there any current plans to make improvements?

A: We made an effort in 3.1 to get the Cunning pets up to speed by giving them talents like Roar of Sacrifice, and normalizing all of the pet stats so that Cunning pets had the same stats as the other two types, modified by pet talents. Crabs are still fairly popular and they probably should be a Cunning pet given their crowd control ability, but the carapace also made them feel like they should be able tanks. And selfishly, I had no problem with seeing a lot of crab pets. (No, I’m not serious.)

This is something we would love to see more feedback on. Hunters in the online community tend to focus a lot on overall PvE dps or overall PvP survival and not get too much into pet comparisons. Someone theorycrafts the best pet and then hunters just go and get it instead of discussing what the other pets would need to be more competitive. To be fair, there is some of that discussion, but it’s not always easy to find, and I have looked. It’s not super high priority given some of the other hunter design issues we’re looking at, but we do want pets to be a choice.

It’s good to have so many pets, with so many different family talents to choose from now.  However, the problem I think with cunning pets is that for most of them, the talent might be good against one particular class, but it is not good against others, so that people will go for a generic pet, that does something against all classes.  Some cunning pets clearly have their uses in pvp, silithids, crabs, spiders, and hyenas all seem pretty popular, but maybe it might be better to have just one or two clear winners for the min/maxers and for the general population to know what to choose from.  For raiding everyone knows wolves, devilsaurs, cats and raptors are all pretty good (pretty much in that order), for soloing your bear, turtle and croc are up there, but are there clear winners for pvp?  Praps I am just a pvp newb.

Q: Due to the number of abilities available to hunters, many level 80 players have expressed concerns in regards to placing all necessary abilities on their action bars. Are there any improvements coming that will assist hunters with this particular issue?

A: We recognize this as a problem. We need to get more buttons off of the bar. We made some progress with streamlining say tracking and aspects, but we’re not there yet.

I couldn’t agree more.  I tried going back to the vanilla bars, even using macros to consolidate many things, keeping my food in an open bag, and keeping some things off the bars, there just is not enough room for everything.  I have to use bartender.  There are many spells (e.g. viper sting, tranquilizing shot, snake trap), I rarely use, but occasionally I do, and I need quick access to them when I need them in a hurry.

Q: Additionally, do we plan to expand upon the number of pet action bar slots? Due to the current number of slots available for pets, hunters frequently have to swap pet abilities in and out of their spell/ability book.

A: Yes, we definitely want to do this. The whole pet bar needs a little work. There are still some bugs relating to which abilities can be moved on or off the bar and whether they default to autocast or not. We want the bar to work much more like character action bars.

In addition, the pet bar should allow you to place macros on the bar for pet actions.  Currently if you want to macro a pet action (e.g. masters call cast on yourself or your healer), you need to place it on one of your action bars.  Another annoying one is the pet talent Heart of the Phoenix.  Its a rez for the pet, but I can’t put it on the pet bar, because when the pet dies the pet disappears.  Pet talents cant be dragged onto your bars either, so you either had to find it in your spell book, or make a cast macro and put that one your own action bars.  Yet, another thing to try and fit on my already over crowded bars.

Q: Are there any plans to allow Tranquilizing Shot to play a larger role in the hunter’s arsenal?

A: Consider that on the one hand this ability just used to be for Magmadar, and on the other hand I just acknowledged above that hunters have a lot of abilities to manage. Given that, we don’t really want Tranquilizing Shot to be in your rotation like Steady Shot or even Kill Shot. It’s a bit situational, and we’re fine with that. We did make some recent efforts to make Enrages feel more like a major mechanic that you’d want to dispel the way you dispel magic and other effects. Enrages aren’t fully realized that way yet, but we like the way that overall design could potentially work.

This was a bit of a non-question, not really sure why they added it in afterwards.  It’s good that it now has a use at all.  I don’t need it in my shot rotation.  It’s nice to have something that’s situation and I need to remember to use (Gluth, enraged fire elementals in OS, for instance).

Q: Do we have plans to increase the number of stable slots available to hunters?

A: Obviously we increased it a lot in Wrath of the Lich King. We want to try and keep the pet as some kind of decision — they aren’t supposed to be like mounts or titles where you just collect as many as you want. We expanded the size so that players could have say a Tenacity pet for soloing and a Ferocity pet for raiding, but we don’t want every hunter to have every family available here. Now one potential problem are the Spirit Beasts, which are collected by hunters and not trivial to replace. We have also discussed expanding the Spirit Beast concept to have rare skins of other pet families (that otherwise don’t convey a combat bonus). If we do that, we’d probably have to expand the stable slots.

I would like to see more rare skins in Northrend, I was only thinking yesterday (when I went back and trained Sian-Rotam – the white male lion from winterspring) that all my pets are now from the old world (I have Old Cliff Jumper, Sian Rotam, a Vemonhide Raptor, and Ursius – yes I know he looks the same as a Northrend white bear).

I would have dearly loved to have room to keep some of the rare or unusual or just plain loved pets I have tamed in the past and had to give up because of stable space (e.g. Shy-Rotam , a lost torranche, Humar, a scarlet tracking hound, a devilsaur….there’s a pretty long list).

We’ve also considered a model where the hunter doesn’t even need a stable and can work more like a warlock where they can just summon their pets whenever they want — with the remote stable ability from the dual-spec feature, we’re pretty close to that already. If we went this route then maybe the stable could just become pet storage in the same way your bank has all those Invader’s Scourgestones and Zul’Gurub bijous that you don’t use often but can’t bear to part with.

Bring it on 🙂

OK now it’s over to you.  What do you think of these Q&A.  Do you agree with my comments, do you have your own ideas, suggestions, concerns?  Get posting.

This also got me thinking, there’s so little here, what questions would I like to see answered, and what improvements would I like to see for my class.  Watch this space, I might be writing a post on this shortly.

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Patch 3.2 – new gear for hunters

Patch 3.2 is a pretty large patch, with additional content, gear tiers, and changes to the badge system.   I have attempted to summarize the current proposed changes to the badge system, below with some thoughts.  And to make it easier for you to pour over the hunter loot, I have tried to pull out most of the new hunter related loot I could find from MMO champion lists of loot and elsewhere.  Let me know if I have missed anything.

Changes to token system

  • Emblems of Heroism and Valor will no longer drop.
  • 5 man heroics, VOA 10 & 25, OS 10 & 25, Naxx 10 & 25, Ulduar 10 & 25 will all drop Emblems of Conquest.
  • The new 10 & 25 man Coliseum raid will drop the new Emblems of Triumph.
  • Daily normal and heroic quests will reward Emblems of Triumph (1 for normal, 2 for heroic).
  • Emblems of Conquest can be exchanged for Emblems of Heroism and Valor in order to purchase gear from vendors.
  • Emblems of Conquest are likely to purchase Tier 7, Tier 7.5 and Tier 8 gear (item level 200-226), plus heirloom bind on account items.
  • Emblems of Triumph are likely to purchase Tier 9 (item level 232+ gear)

What do you think about these emblem changes?

The emblem changes are causing a lot of controversy and conflicting views.  Many top end raiders are angry that beginning raiders will be able to get their hands on the new badges, and eventually (after lots of heroic dailies) some T9 gear.  This to me is a rather self-centered and irrelevant argument.  Beginning raiders are not going to be able to buy everything they need to rival a top end raider for gear or access top end content without going through the progression, they still need BOP drops from instances to complete their gear.  Some people are arguing that it will be harder to judge whether someone has cleared content when inviting them to a PUG.  But with achievements now on the armory, it is possible to check out someone’s achievements as well as their BOP armor.

What this will do is help gear up alts, and help raiders who are struggling to see the new content, like Ulduar, access that content.  I am one of the top geared people in a relatively small, non-hardcore raiding guild.  We can only raid 10 man content currently, and then often have to taken under-geared and inexperienced raiders with us to make up the numbers.  This will help us gear everyone up, and give those of us running Naxx and other low level content with our less well geared guildies something to run it for.

T9 armor

hordeT9

The picture about shows the horde T9 set.

There will be three sets of T9 armor reflecting different levels of difficulty (item levels 232, 245, 258).  MMO champion has screenshots of the stats, although they say the models are only placeholders at the moment, so the armor will probably look different from the picture, and the three sets will look different from each other:

Hunter (232)
Hunter (245)
Hunter (258)

New badge gear

New gear available with the new badges dropped in 3.2 includes:

Helm of the Brooding Dragon

Horde Coliseum 25 Badge Loot Hunter Helm

Horde Coliseum 25 Badge Loot Hunter Shoulders

Dexterous Brightstone Ring

Coliseum 25 Badge Loot Melee DPS Trinket

Other Epic gear added in patch 3.2 (datamined and published on MMO champion)

Crusaders Dragonscale Bracers

Crusaders Dragonscale Breastplate

Windrunner’s Hands of Conquests 232 T9

Windrunner’s Hands of Triunph 245 T9

Windrunner’s Hands of Triumph 258 T9

Windrunners Headpiece of Conquests 232 T9

Windrunner’s Headpiece of Triumph 245 T9

Windrunner’s Headpiece of Triumph 258 T9

Windrunner’s Legguards of Conquest 232 T9

Windrunner’s Legguards of Triumph 245 T9

Windrunner’s Legguards of Triumph 258 T9

Windrunner’s Spaulders of Conquests 232 T9

Windrunner’s Spaulders of Triumph 245 T9

Windrunner’s Spaulders of Triumph 258 T9

Windrunner’s Tunic of Conquest 232 T9

Windrunner’s Tunic of Triumph 245 T9

Windrunner’s Tunic of Triumph 258 T9

*Note the Windrunner are the Alliance versions – horde get very similar statted items titled ‘Thrall’s”

Epaulets of the Devourer

Etched Band of the Kirin Tor

Titan forged band of triumph (item 226 pvp gear)

Ttitan forged chain leggings of triumph (item 232 pvp gear)

Ghostcrawler speaks – huge hunter nerf incoming

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Hunters of all specs, and particularly Beastmaster, are doing too much damage in PvE. 
      We tested this a lot internally in beta and knew hunters were high but we hoped other classes would be able to catch up in a way they have as yet been unable to do. We want to be careful not to hurt hunter dps too much in PvP, so we’re taking most of the damage out of Steady Shot and Volley. Beastmaster hunters are in addition losing some of their pet dps. We still want BMs to have the best pets, but pet dps numbers are a little high at the moment. We are also still concerned about hunter survivability in PvP and taking the opportunity to jazz up Deterrence into something that looks and plays a little more interesting. 

These are not all of the changes we are working on for hunters, but those changes we feel are ready for testing. We hope to get these changes up on the PTR so players will have a chance to test them out and respond before they go live. 

1) Steady Shot – now only gains 10% of attack power as damage (down from 20%). 
2) Volley – reduced the damage by about 30% for all ranks. Note that AE damage from many classes is very high right now and we are looking at all of them. Volley in particular had reached the point where some hunters were using it to the exclusion of most other attacks. 
3) Readiness – no longer affects the cooldown of Bestial Wrath. 
4) Deterrence – has been completely overhauled. It now allows you to deflect 100% of incoming melee or spell damage for 5 seconds, but prevents you from attacking while active. You still must be facing the attacker to deflect the damage (this is a limitation we are trying and might end up removing). 60 sec cooldown. 
5) Kill Shot – cooldown reduced to 15 sec (from 35 sec). 
6) Kindred Spirits – now only grants 3/6/9/12/15% pet damage. 
7) Serpent’s Swiftness – now only grants 2/4/6/8/10% bonus attack speed to pet. (
EDIT: Still grants the current bonus to the hunter.) 
8) All hunter pet abilities with a cooldown longer than 30 sec have been moved off the global cooldown. 
9) Growl— threat generation increased by 20% (same for Voidwalker Torment). 
10) Call of the Wild – now benefits only the hunter and his or her pet. 
11) Rake and Scorpid Poison – slightly nerfed to bring them into line with other pet abilities. 
12) Spirit Strike – reduced the period on the dot so it will work better with Longevity. 
Improved Tracking – now benefits damage to all included creature types as long as you are tracking one of them. You don’t have to swap around what you are tracking as much. 
13) Aspect of the Wild – now raid-wide. 

EDIT: The “only” on Serpent’s Swiftness meant 10% pet attack speed instead of 20%. The hunter bonus is unchanged. 
Post edited by Ghostcrawler ]

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WOW!

This is the biggest news hunters have had in a long time.  Some of these changes are huge, especially for beastmasters.  Not all of them are nerfs, and not all of them may end up on the live realms (they will be tested and adjusted on the PTRs), but it is clear that as WOW insider puts it, ‘The Great Hunter Nerf of 2008′ will soon be upon us (although it is possible this will creep into 2009 by the time the have tested it all).

I think most of us will admit our class is very powerful in PVE.  I soloed through much of the content to 80 and duoed the rest, including all the group quests and elites we came across along the way.  I only died once or twice, and then when soloing non-pet friendly quests where I had to melee an elite, or some such.  My gear at 80 is OK but nothing special.  I have a Nessingway 4000 gun, but I am mostly dressed in level 78 LW crafted blues (the swiftarrow pieces) – nice starter pvp gear but not top end dps kit.  Yet in the couple of instances I have participated in so far (Lightning Halls and Heroic Nexus), with a group of similarly or slightly better geared people (mage, enhance shammie, pally dps), I have being putting out around 40% of the damage and clocking around 1800dps to their 1100.  Better geared (and probably played hunters) are talking of dps numbers of 3.5k and 4.5k on a regular basis in raids and instances.  In solo pve, my gorilla and I can regularly top 3k dps on a group of mobs with volley and have recorded 5,0000+ dps on a group of lower level mobs at the top end.  So I am OK with the fact that hunters, and especially maybe beastmaster hunters need toning down a bit in pve.  I don’t like it of course, but I think it’s fair.  What I hope they will do though, is bring it to a sensible level and not nerf us to the ground.  Hunters are a pure dps class.  We should be at the top of the dps charts.  We should be vying for that position with other pure dpsers like mages and rogues.  We should be out-dpsing hybrid classes who bring a wider range of buffs and utility to the party than a hunter, and who now mostly have cc too.  If our dps drops below that of shaman, ret pallies, and others, Blizz have done something wrong.

Overall, I hope the nerf to steady shot will be adjusted somewhat.  This affects all hunters, not just BM.  It’s their bread and butter shot.  According to Drotara, over on Less QQ, More Pew Pew, this looks like a 25% nerf to something that accounts for 51% of his damage (i.e. a 13-15% nerf to his overall damage), taking him below the top 10 dpsers in his raid.  And this is just one of the nerfs.  I hope this is not where Blizzard want us to be.

Once the changes have been finalized, and the theorycrafting over on elitist jerks and elsewhere has settled, this will change how we play.  Most of the nerfs are aimed at BM hunters.  It maybe that marksman will become the premier raiding spec to maximise dps.  Cats are getting nerfed, but not so devilsaurs (and the elusive spirit beast is getting a buff), so devilsaurs and perhaps spirit beasts should overtake cats as king of the dps jungle.  Readiness not effecting beastial wrath (along with the cat nerf) removes the temptation for a BM hunter spec like 50/21 – it looks like a 51 spec will be more effective if you stay BM.  

There are also a few buffs in here.  Improved growl will help tanking hunters, and those with high crits hold aggro with their pets.  Improved tracking over in the survival tree, sounds as if it will give a straight 5% damage buff as long as you are tracking something on the list, and not herbs or the stablemaster.  Looks like abilities such as Intimidation are not going to disrupt your shot rotations anymore, which is nice.  And the new deterrence, sounds like a hunter bubble for pve and BGs 🙂  It says you can’t fight for those 5 secs, but presumably you can drink a potion or bandage?  It would be nice it if were a complete bubble to give you time to do this, without interruption and also give you immunity to stuns (otherwise this is useless again rogues, warriors, pallies, etc, who would just stun you for the period.  May also need to consider giving you temporary immunity to any DOTs you have on you, which is not how it reads at the moment (otherwise bandaging will get interrupted).  However, it is unclear how useful this will be in arenas.  Do you really want to standby invulnerable for 5 secs, while the other team kills your healer?

All in all this has come at a bad time for me in WOW.  Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the stuff in the expansion is great, but somehow I am not am as obsessed with WOW as I was even a few weeks ago.  I can now go a whole two days without wanting to play!  

So over to you guys?  What do you think of the prospective changes?  Constructive clean comments only please (this is a family show).  – Ha ha – I have just re-read this article – it’s very balanced given my first reaction to the news 🙂 

External Links:

Elitist jerks post on the changes – here

Adam Holsky at WOWInsider – here

Big Red Kitty at WOW insider – here here and here  – I like BRKs ending to part 3 – couldn’t agree more: 

” Now let’s move on to getting some freaking help in arenas, shall we? And the Survivalist tree is still honked up. Heart of the Phoenix, one of the best reasons for getting the Beast Mastery talent, isn’t working properly. There aren’t enough level 80 pets to tame. Why can’t we tame Mammoth?

And fix Cower, for Elune’s sake! COWER, people!”

Less QQ, More Pew Pew is QQing  – here

And for a little optimism I will leave you with Pike on Aspect of the Hare: “So Blizz has the nerf bat and we’re the battered Big Red Piñata this time.

Stay positive.

I think it will be okay.

If we have to work harder for BM DPS now, then that makes it all the more fun and exciting. Not as easy to top DPS now? So be it– maybe we can finally shake the huntard stigma.

Hang in there everyone! /group hug”