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.


  1. You're right that dummies can't tell the whole story, but both normal and heroic dungeons are open on the beta. Survival does have some extra tricks up its sleeve in real world encounters, but most of what's concerning people right now is the core rotation.

    They're still iterating though. Beta is long from over. Blizzard is listening to the feedback, there was even some talk about giving survival another button (perhaps a cooldown). I hope survival's powerful camouflage makes it to live as it's a big perk to playing the spec IMO. I also want to see Explosive Trap be something made useful to survival hunters. Traps feel so damn good to use right now, but the damage output makes it not worth casting most of the time.

  2. Yeah, I hope the new DoT version of Explosive Trap makes it worth casting regularly. And where you drop it could add some complexity to encounters. I guess I need to see the core rotation for myself to really understand the concerns.