Tuesday, July 22, 2014

You Can't Measure Much With a Target Dummy

I'm not in the beta. It's fine. I'm getting my fix as best I can through the amazing hunter community's blogs and podcasts. With all of the ability pruning and whatnot, I'm paying most of my attention to how hunters are experiencing the new versions of our specs, with my obvious bias toward Survival. While there are a lot of different interpretations of how the individual specs feel in their new incarnations, there does seem to be an overall theme that things are "missing" or a certain spec feels "simple and hollow." This may be true. The hunters I'm paying attention to generally have a much better understanding of the class than I do, and again I can't get any firsthand experience myself, but I have to say these opinions seem like they were formed prematurely.

I have to assume a lot of people are judging the specs as they level. Most of us level as fast as we can  for obvious reasons, but is leveling a good way to experience the depth of a class and spec? I usually use very few of the tools available to me when leveling. Maybe some testers are running 5-mans, which is a  much better gauge of the state of a class, but they are still just regular 5-mans. Even at the beginning of Cataclysm I don't remember needing Deterrence or Gift of the Naaru in regular dungeons. Maybe once I got to max level and into heroics. Maybe. And everything I have read analyzing the new state of  hunters was written before ANY raid testing had begun. I don't know about you, but a raid environment is what I care about. That is where you will learn if your newly-pruned spec really is boring. Many beta testers are deciding how the specs feel by going to the worst place on Azeroth to gauge such a thing : A target dummy.

Target dummies are great. I love them. They are an amazing way to practice and compare rotations. But a target dummy can never tell you how fun a spec or class is. There is no strategic use of AoE on a dummy. You don't use traps on a dummy. You don't use utility abilities like Distracting Shot, Misdirection, or Deterrence on a dummy. I think it's safe to assume most testers are not working a regular Camouflage into their target dummy practice, but you can be damn sure you'll be doing it in a raid environment as Survival just for the heal.  One of the most fun encounters for me was Spiderling duty on Bethilac, and I wasn't doing anything close to my target dummy rotation until the last 20% of her health. Running around the lair flinging traps and then burning down spiders with Multi Shot was a ton of fun, but it was absolutely nothing like hitting a dummy for 5 minutes. When you factor encounter mechanics and the new healing model, a hunter's single-target rotation may be a much lower priority than positioning and damage avoidance/mitigation.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe ability pruning has gone too far and hunters need to get something more to feel fun again. But until I get to play WoD myself I'm going to keep the faith. And I'm going to be skeptical of anyone who went to a target dummy to determine if a spec or class is fun to play.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Blog Is Not Dead!

I just don't have anything hunter related to write about right now. I'm not in the beta, and I'm not very comfortable writing about things I have no first hand experience with. For beta hunter info Bendak, Darkbrew, Delirium, and Solar are all doing amazing work. I'm reading them every day. Should I get a beta invite, posts will start rolling out. Until then, I'm just trying to get better at PvP and learning BM so I have some flexibility in WoD. I'm also using the lull to enjoy summer here in the Pacific Northwest.
I may do a few gold related posts in the meantime, but if you only want hunter and WoD info, I got nothing until I can play it in some form. Please stay tuned and read the blogs linked in the margin.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Quivers and Ammo (sort of)!

I havn't been posting enough lately because, well, there isn't a lot to say. I recently hit my goal of having a million gold in the bank, and with that out of the way I'm barely even logging into WoW. I log on every Tuesday to kill Ordos on my priest, and then I clear a few old raids looking for mount and transmog drops. All that takes about 30 minutes. Then I play Diablo (I'm terrible) or just go do something outside. I havn't cleared Siege yet, and I don't care if I do or not. I'm just over this expansion for two reasons. For one it's been out a looooooooong time. Too long. Nothing else really to say about that. Second, we keep hearing about the awesomeness of WoD. It's hard for me to get excited about old content while I'm reading all about the new shinies, like....

Quivers! We are getting cosmetic-only quivers and ammo pouches. That is just fun. Pure fun. We don't yet know how we get them, but as transmog has gotten me really into my character's look for the first time, the idea of a quiver sounds awesome. I was already leaning toward making my hunter a Night Elf (his original race in Classic and BC) and quivers sealed the deal.

We're also getting ammo types. Not literally, don't worry about bag space,  but the new level 100 talent that replaces Flaming Shots gives us a choice of one of three ways to augment our Auto Shots. One does AoE fire damage, one does a nature damage DoT, and one does a movement reduction. A comment on Eyes of the Beast specualted that we will use the first for AoE fights, the second for single target, and the third for PvP. While pure speculation, if the tuning is done right I think that makes a lot of sense. I'm excited about this talent for a few reasons. For starters, it's kind of like 3 talents in one. Quite a bit of versatility, although I'm not sure how many different DoTs survival really needs at this point. I know and love that that's our "thing" but if you take the nature damage one for single target, we will have Serpent Sting, Black Arrow, Explosive Shot, Explosive Trap, Bear Trap, and the new one all potentially on a target at the same time! Kind of nuts. It might take a little bit, but that target is gonna die. Taking the fire damage one will make survival even more amazing for AoE. I love doing awesome AoE, it's just fun. I don't PvP much, but the third ammo type seems over powered. Giving us a ranged slow that doesn't require a key press, much less a global cooldown will bring the complaints from non hunters. It's going to be interesting to watch the development of all this. The big question regarding this new talent is can ammo types be swapped during a fight? I hope not. That seems like aspect twisting all over again, which I personally did not enjoy. But no big deal either way. How many fights are going to really require a lot of swapping? On my old team, I was either doing AoE duty or single target duty. And if you are forced to have the AoE ammo during an execute phase, it's not going to be a huge deal. I'm also happy to just see a 100 talent I would actually choose. I've made no secret about disliking Lone Wolf. I hope to avoid Focusing Shot as well. I've gotten way to used to casting it all while moving and I don't really want to go back. If it were just a way to let more skilled hunters do higher damage I would be excited about it, but also being the focus generating shot seems problematic to me, at least for high movement fights. So this early, Exotic Ammo has me the most excited. The only issue I have with it at this point is the damage types seem redundant for Survival. We already have a single target nature damage ability (Serpent Sting) and a fire damage AoE (Explosive Trap). Damage type doesn't usually matter these days, but I'd like them to switch it up a bit just in case. Call one of them Blessed Bullets and make it holy damage or something. Variety is always good.

Things are shaping up for WoD. I'm really excited about it, which is why I'm barely playing World of Warcraft at all. I may even cancel my subscription for the summer and go fishing.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

So Many Questions

As opposed to providing you readers with any sort of helpful information, I thought I would share the growing list of questions I have right now about hunters and WoW. Between blog posts, Twitter, and developer interviews we're getting a decent amount of information. But each bit seems to generate more uncertainty in my head. So here is an improvised, no particular order list of questions. If you know the answer to any, help me out.

  • What will Bear Trap do? It better not be a root+bleed, because we can basically do that now.
  • What is replacing Flaming Shots?
  • Why are the kids wearing headphones on their head but not putting the speakers on their ears?
  • Any timetable for the beta? I'll settle for a season at this point.
  • Why am I the only one who isn't gonna miss Distracting Shot?
  • If one of the hunter specs is being redesigned for PvP, which one is it?
  • What's the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? Cuz I just ate a "muffin" that had frosting on it.
  • What are talking about with this mobility tax? I think I could live with 5 or 8%. Any more than that and my shadow priest starts to look really good.
  • How in the world are tertiary stats balanced? Maybe we need a beta..
  • How well is my 2009 computer going to run WoD?
  • What race am I going to change my hunter to? It's between Dwarf and Night Elf right now.
  • Are we getting some new taming challenges?
  • Isn't Marksman's 120 focus combined with Rapid Fire a bit much?
  • How did I not know about Delirium's blog until this week? Great stuff there.
  • Will people really be able to take Stampede and Lone Wolf at the same time? That seems dumb. If hunters want the big cooldown they should have to manage a pet.
  • How can people say not having the Hunter's Mark visual will be weird, but not having a pet will be awesome? I'm fine having one less visual effect on the boss, personally.
  • Why didn't Blizzard cut Aspect of the Pack?
  • Have the devs actually confirmed yet that we're not flying in WoD? We all know that's happening so someone might as well say it straight up.
  • Is there another long-term legendary in the works? Let me guess:A legendary toolshed for my garrison.
Well, that's what I have right now. Obviusly this post is a little silly, but the questions are (mostly) sincere. I really need an answer on the muffin vs cupcake thing. What are you wondering about?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pets, Pets, Pets!

The long, LONG, sunset of an expansion is my favorite time to revisit my stable and do some pet collecting. We get announcements that may make you want to pick up a pet you don't have for the next expansion, and if you're into collecting rares your competiton will almost certainly already have what they want. Some tames might even be a bit easier now before we lose some of our abilities. If you recently boosted a hunter, you probably have quite a bit of pet collecting to do in order to get all the various buffs. If nothing else, it's something to do during a content drought. And if you want to try for the MoP challenges, you can spend waste a LOT of time looking for those damn tracks. (Side note, why make a taming challenge and then use the same skin later for a regular tame? They did it in Cata and again in MoP. Pretty silly in my opinion.) I spent some time the other night dropping some unused pets (Why did I have 5 cats in there?) and taming the serpent pictured above to grab a buff I didn't have.  I couldn't resist naming him Whitesnake.

The biggest pet news we have gotten recently is that Heroism and Battle Res will no longer be exclusive to Beast Mastery in WoD. If you never play BM or just want to cover all your bases, get yourself a Nether Ray for Hero and either a Crane or Moth for B Res. As sombody who likes to play Survival whenever possible I couldn't be happier about this change. No longer will I be pressured to go BM just for Heroism!

While it's been well documented already, a pet post would be incomplete without running down which pets will bring which buffs and debuffs in WoD. If you run in a smaller sized raid, or like me just want to have the whole hunter arsenal in your stable, you'll want to have one pet from each group. The groups right now aren't distributed very well, and this is the development process so I anticipate some changes. Note that I am including BM only exotic pets here. I'll do my best to keep the list updated.

The Pet List as of July 23, 2014 (Beta):

Buffs: Any group size bigger than 10 will almost certainly have these covered already, but weird things can happen with group composition. You'll definately be able to use them in the new 5-mans and scenarios. And if you go petless, the current thinking is you can bring one of these as an aura. See my note below about the importance of a Multistrike pet for Survival Hunters.
  • Stats
    • Gorilla (One of my all-time favorites. Happy he is going to be useful!)
    • Dogs
    • Shale Spider
    • Worm
  • Stamina
    • Bear
    • Goat
    • Hook Wasp
    • Silithid
  • Spell Power
    • Serpent
    • Silithid
    • Water Strider
  • Haste
    • Sporebat (Nice to see we have some choice here. Lots of sporebats lately.)
    • Wasp
    • Hyena
    • Hook Wasp
  • Crit
    • Wolf
    • Raptor
    • Devilsaur
    • Quilen
    • Shale Spider
    • Water Strider
  • Mastery
    • Cat
    • Tallstrider
    • Hydra (You'll want to wait for WoD and get this one because Hydra!) 
    • Spirit Beast
  • Multistrike*
    • Basilisk
    • Chimaera
    • Core Hound
    • Dragonhawk
    • Fox
    • Rhino
    • Wind Serpent
  • Versatility
    • Bird of Prey
    • Boar
    • Porcupine
    • Ravager
    • Rhino
    • Worm

Debuffs: Not a lot to say here since so many debuffs have been removed. Make sure you have a Mortal Wounds pet at the very least.
  • Mortal Wounds
    • Devilsaur
    • Scorpion
    • Carrion Bird
    • Riverbeast (WoD pet)
  • Slow Movement
    • Spider
    • Warp Stalker
    • Silithid
    • Crocolisk
    • Chimaera
*The most important pet buff every SV hunter will need to have is Multistrike. Multistrike will proc Lock and Load after 6.0. It is going to be imperative for SV hunters to have the highest Multistrike possible. Make sure you have a Dragonhawk, Fox, or Wind Serpent before 6.0 drops if you're going to go Survival. As always Petopia is your best resource for "shopping" for cool and rare pets. I also want to mention that Raid Checklist is my favorite add-on for figuring out which buff or debuff I should bring to the group. If you raid lead or don't know every class inside and out, I highly recommend it. What pets are you collecting right now? What's your favorite pet? Mine is Karkin.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Back...and Now with Stuff to Talk About!

Wow, I hate going this long between posts. The break began when there was just nothing to write about. End of expansion, no news, less people playing. I'll admit that I'm pretty burned on MoP right now, and maybe WoW in general. Been playing this game for nine years at this point. I even got back into Diablo recently because of how I feel about WoW at the moment. And then my vacation lined-up with the Alpha release. Just my luck. Considering the Alpha patch notes are a few weeks old at this point, I'm not going to summarize them here. But I am going to assume my readers have seen them. If you want great rundowns of the hunter changes go to The Brew Hall or Eyes of the Beast. Now that we have seen the very, very first iteration of the new hunter I'd say things look pretty good.

Button bloat: No real surprises regarding what abilities we lost. I am thrilled that traps are not only staying, but getting more powerful. Especially for survival hunters, proper trap usage is going to be really important. The change to Explosive Trap is so cool. Reminds me of the days of old. Also, survival is losing Kill Shot. While I actually advocated for all the specs to have it removed, I'm going to count that prediction as a win. I totally called that:) More importantly, I think it will really help SV. With Lock 'n Load and all the other cooldowns, our rotation is just chaotic enough to make a new shot that pops up at the end of a fight seem weird. I'll totally take being the sustained, dot based spec.

Differentiation: Blizz did a better job with this that I could have hoped. Only SV has Serpent Sting? Love it. Traps are better, and SV traps are better still? Hell yeah. A solid self heal once per minute? Now we actually live up to our spec's name! I do have to say I wish they had not changed how Serpent Sting is applied. There was some skill involved in keeping it up (especially on multiple targets) or remembering to reapply it after transition phases. But if the choice was between the new system and scrapping the ability altogether, I think Blizzard made the right choice. SV really sounds like THE dot and magic damage spec.

Draenor Perks: Such a cool idea. Some kind of power increase every level, in a random order. By max level everyone is the same, but how they got there will be a little different for everyone. As someone who really doesn't enjoy leveling, I think these could create some replayability for WoD. In any case, they sound totally fun.

Camouflage: Camo, in the alpha notes, is amazing. For a survival hunter camo becomes a nice self heal that one can use every minute without stopping the deeps. Sweet! Awesome! Killer! But here's the thing: we've been burned by camouflage before. In the Cataclysm development process, camo started out really cool and was slowly eroded into an almost worthless ability. I really hope we don't repeat that whole experience. I know it's the nature of game development and class balance, but I'm not sure I can go through that again with camouflage, considering how awesome it looks right now for survival.

I have heard people describe the changes as making Survival into the PvP spec. I can see why they feel that way. Our CC will be better, and the buffs to Camo will certainly help as well. On the other hand, it looks like we will have the lowest burst damage (although we can use some talent choices to mitigate that somewhat) and we won't have an execute button. It looks to me like SV will be a good choice for PvP, but I really hope Blizzard can get the balancing close enough that it is good for more than that. I feel like they did an amazing job balancing the hunter specs in MoP, so why not do it again?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Veteran's Bonus is Fine as it Is

There have been a lot of complaints about the Veteran's Bonus in the last week since character boosts went live. For those unaware, the Veteran's Bonus raises your professions to 600 (max level) if you use a boost on a character levels 60-89. When this feature was announced I was cautiously excited about it, from the perspective of someone who plays the auction house. I'm really happy with the current state of it, but quite a few are not.

The big question I had when we first heard about the Veteran's Bonus was in regard to recipes. What would these new crafters know how to make? Everything? Some things? Nothing? Turns out, nothing. You have 600 skill level, but no recipes. And that is where the complaints are coming from. People on Twitter and forums have been raging about this, and they are flat-out wrong. Just about every angry post I found, the person expected to get EVERY recipe up through 600. Many pointed out that the cost of EVERY recipe vastly exceeds the 150g your boosted character receives. Are you fucking kidding me? Do you even know what I had to do to learn all those patterns? While I'm as surprised as anyone that the VB doesn't give you any recipes at all, I am relieved that people aren't getting stuff that requires discovery or rep grinding. Stuff we just buy from a trainer? I'm ok with that. But I would be just as pissed as the guys that want it all for free if people had so easily gotten the patterns I had to work hard for. Some of my stuff required raiding. Some stuff (enchants) cost me hours of my life doing daily quests. Many of my good and profitable JC cuts were borne from an agonizing combination of random discovery and world drops. Meta cuts in particular took me a long time to get, and I'm frankly happy that my new competitors don't just have them because they are cool giving Blizzard $60. And why do these people want every recipe anyway?

If you're a completionist and you HAVE to have every purchasable pattern for your new professions, it's only going to cost you a few thousand gold. Really not much considering you're buying the potential to make hundreds of thousands back with a little discipline. The complainers posit that they are starting out on a new realm and only have the 150g the boost brings to work with. I suspect a lot of these complaints are false rationalizations for wanting patterns for nothing (you leveled to 60 and didn't make any gold?) but let's take them at their word. To start out, you only need to learn one or two current recipes for each of your professions to get going on your new realm. I'm going to give you a few examples from the professions I do.

Boosted an alchemist? Well, the stuff you want to learn is discovered. You can't buy it even if you have the gold. You can buy Master Healing Potion for only 20g, and each one you make gives you a chance to learn profitable transmutes. The mats for the potions are cheap. I think I discovered all the good stuff in about an hour. Let's talk leatherworking. You can get started for 5g. That will allow you to make Magnificent Hide, which sell consistently. You'll want to use them to make armor kits, but to do that you'll need to grind out some Golden Lotus rep like the rest of us had to. But you can start making profit for only 5g. Hard to complain about that. Jewelcrafters can get started even cheaper than that! The MoP cuts that sell are all discovered or dropped. You can learn the recipe to start discovering cuts for only 4.5g. It's going to take you a while to learn all the patterns that way, but the rest of us did it and we survived. You're on your own for the meta cuts. It took me months to get the ones that sell. But really guys, a 4.5g and reasonable time investment for a profession that makes quite a few WoW millionaires? Stop your bitching. Just to hammer my point home, you can get started in enchanting for 2.28g. Buy the pattern for Glorious Stats. They sell all day every day, and mats on quite a few servers are stupid cheap. I mean 80s for dust cheap. You can start cranking out enchants for the cost of a potion.

I don't know why people want a bunch of old recipes that don't really sell, but they do. OK fine, well you are going to have to go out and get them like the rest of us did. Farm some mobs and grind some rep. Solo super-old content for weeks while you wait for patterns to drop. Do totally repetitive daily quests. You're my competition now, so don't expect any sympathy. And I have clearly proven that you can get started making gold with your new professions for well under the 150g the boost gives you. So stop complaining. Asking for every recipe to be included with the Veteran's Bonus is lunacy.