So, today’s big news (other than I had royal stomach issues again this morning :P) is that Blizzard finally got around to announcing the new hunter spells and talents. And they’re awesome. In fact, they’re so awesome that they’re putting my brain into meltdown mode. I’m like a kid in a candy store… where everything costs a nickel… and I have a quarter. There are soo many major changes they’re making that… yeah.
Before I launch into a full on discussion of the changes, I’d like to make a few general observations:
- Feign death just isn’t as important any more – Hunters are becoming a lot simpler to play as a result.
- Agility is getting a major upgrade and a mid-sized downgrade, and it is possible to build a char that gets +21% agi. Yes. TWENTY ONE.
- It feels like they really want to to shift people away from using slow ranged weapons back to using fast ones again.
- All three trees are getting major improvements, but beast is still generally the weakest of the three.
At level 62, we get the “kill” command. This slightly questionable ability basically allows you to use your mana to fuel an extra attack for your pet. It’s a pretty decent attack, 127 damage for 75 mana (and 198 for 90 at lvl 70), but it’s only usable after you score a crit. Not that lvl 70 hunters will have problems scoring crits… I’m not gonna knock this one until I try it, but I’m not really impressed here.
aspect of the viper
Level 64 gives us a new aspect. This one was leaked a few weeks ago, and it looks like the leak was correct. It gives the hunter mana/5 regen based on their int score. This is great. I currently have 9/5 mana regen from equipment and have 103 int with my current gear. This aspect would give me +25/5 regen for a total of 34/5. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Of course, doing this costs you the benefits of whatever other aspect you might otherwise be using… but it’s great for improving burn duration when you’re in a group that doesn’t want to sit and drink.
Level 66 gives a new shot, which Blizzard intends as a replacement for how people are currently using aimed shot. Of course… You can get aimed at lvl 20, and this one doesn’t happen untill 66… so shrug. Hopefully the upgrades to arcane shot will help fill the gap. It fires faster than aimed shot and costs significantly less mana. It has no cooldown.
Steady shot does a base 100 points of damage. Add 175 to that if your target is dazed, and then add “30% of your Ranged Attack Power”. I’m not certain whether they mean 30% of the normal contribution to damage from RAP or if they actually mean 30% of RAP directly converted into damage. I currently run around with just over 1000 RAP. This means that a steady shot on a dazed target does 100+175+333=608 damage? Of course, I’ve only got mediocre eq for my level/age… there are plenty of hunters out there who have 1300-1500 or more RAP.
Aimed shot at lvl 60 does normal arrow + 600 damage. So it still hits harder (my average arrows do 320 or so damage), but it costs 200 more mana and a talent and because of the downgrade can’t be used effectively in the middle of combat any more. Steady shot is looking very very nice. Even if I am gonna have to wait 6 levels to get it.
According to Kalgan (Bliz hunter GM):
Also, since Arcane Shot does a bit more damage than Steady Shot (unless the target is dazed), you’ll generally favor Arcane Shot over Steady Shot when it’s available.
So… I’m not really sure what to make of that one. Arcane does arcane type damage, steady looks like it does physical damage. Why give us something that you think we’re not gonna want? Shrug. Arcane’s cooldown does not affect steady’s… so you can use both for maximum mana burn and hate theft 🙂
Level 68 gives the hunter a new trap. This one is in the spirit of the expansion giving every mana-using class the ability to summon temporary pets. What happens when this particular toy is stepped on… is a ton of poisonous critters chewing on random enemies within range. Kalgan gives a good explanation:
- Yes, snakes are mobs that can be targeted. There are 6 to 10 snakes that come out of the trap (oh $h1%, we’ve got Snakes on a Trap!) and attack random targets within 10 yards of the trap.
- The snakes do physical damage and apply random poisons (ie: mind numbing, crippling, and a deadly poison).
- They don’t do a lot of damage individually, but in total the damage is meaningful.
- The snakes will chase the same distance mobs normally chase.
- The snakes move at normal mob speed (although their victims may be affected by crippling poison).
So… lame joke aside… I quickly see the snakes as a general purpose replacement for both CC and damage traps. They do physical/nature damage, they debuff, they are both AoE and single-target appropriate… Yeah. I’m digging this one. Especially now that traps can be placed normally during combat – w/o the need to feign first. I’ll pretty much only
And the level 70 ability that apparently only I can appreciate… is misdirection. I like it. I like it a LOT. Tony isn’t that impressed, and neither are lots of morons on the forums, but shrug – they’re rarely worth listening to (the morons, not Tony :P).
Misdirection allows the hunter to choose where his hate goes. So, in stead of disengage and feign death which simply dissipate the hate… this one is targetted. Which means that in stead of firing a distracting shot at a mob that’s running after my healer to pull them on to me until the warrior can retrieve them… I misdirect some hate back on to the tank, thus saving me from tanking damage, and making the meatshield’s life easier. I like it.
Misdirection doesn’t change your target, it simply changes who the threat is going to.
So, imagine you’re firing away, you click misdirection (and get the spell glove to target a party/raid member), click on the person you want the threat to go to, and for your next 3 shots all the threat generated by those shots is added to that party/raid member.
Since I’m already posting a lot of Kalgan’s comments, I figure I may as well summarize him on a lot of other relevant points. I’m also very intentionally not linking back to the original threads, because Blizzard’s forums are chronically broken and I don’t want to introduce links I know aren’t gonna work…
Traps are now on a 30 sec cooldown, but can be used in combat (you no longer need to feign/trap).
When feign death is resisted, you are still reduced to 0 threat for any targets that did not resist feign death (although if any creature resists the feign, you won’t be taken completely out of combat, you’ll still be on the creature group’s target list).
base resist chance for equal level enemies is 4%
(I think this means that in general, across all spell-like abilities, the base resist is 4% for equal-level? Does that explain why my +4% to feign from talents never really fails?)
Hunters now get 1 AP per Agility rather than 2. This change helps us provide more interesting stat distributions on hunter items. Previously, Hunters valued Agi significantly above any other stat, such that it was extremely difficult for us to create variety among Hunter items. For example, before this change, we could have spent 1 stat point on an item to give you either 2 AP or 1 Agi (which gave 2 AP along with a small bonus to crit and a small bonus to dodge… clearly the better choice). However, several changes have been made along with this change in order to offset the AP loss.
Hunters now get significantly more crit per point of Agility than before (about 33agi/crit at level 60).
Hunters now get more dodge per point of Agility than before (about 20agi/dodge at lvl 60).
Ranged weapons have had their damage values significantly increased (and consequently the weapon’s dps)… this also helps make weapon upgrades feel more meaningful for Hunters than it did previously (along with the other changes, this change is retroactive).
Most Hunter equipment has been updated to have a better distribution between +Attack Power bonuses and Agility.
Yes, a handfull of items that were not explicitly hunter-only but were clearly designed as “hunter items” with disproportionately high Agi values are having some of their stats shifted to AP (although they’ll still be agi-heavy in general)
Aimed Shot now resets the Hunter’s shot timer. This talent was always intended to be an “opening” shot, and not something that would be woven between shots. However, since Aimed Shot became such a core element for Hunter DPS, we didn’t want to make this change until we were prepared to make several other changes to increase hunter DPS to offset it. Fortunately, this means that some of the odd side effects of the old Aimed Shot are no longer relevant, such as requiring hunters to use extremely slow weapons to maximize their DPS (weapons slow enough to be able to use Aimed Shot in between auto shots)
Arcane Shot now does substantially more damage than it did before, and scales with AP.
Steady Shot has been introduced as a core ability in the expansion, and provides much the same kind of gameplay as Aimed Shot did in the past (a shot you weave in between your normal shots), but to a much more managable degree (since it’s a 1.5 sec shot, it doesn’t require as slow of a weapon to take advantage of, and doesn’t require to stand still for as long).
Steady Shot does not have a cooldown. The AP scaling on Arcane Shot is 20% of AP.
Also, to answer another question that has come up, Arcane Shot and Aimed Shot no longer share the same cooldown.
Other note: Wyvern Sting may now be used in combat.
The Talent Calculator will be updated to remove the “out of combat” requirement. However, Wyvern Sting did gain a 1.5 second cast time instead.
They added a lot of goodness all around the talent tree. It looks like I’m going to be dropping a lot of trap-related talents and getting a bunch of marksmanship back. I’m almost disappointed that beast mastery still isn’t viable as a standalone PvE spec. But oh well 😉
The first thing I noticed in the new beast spec is that they’re splitting a lot of the bonuses between the hunter and the pet. So:
- endurance training – Was +15% pet health. Is now +10% pet health, +5% player health.
- thick hide – Was +30% pet armour. Is now +21% pet armour, +12% player armour.
- animal handler – New tier 6 talent. +4% pet hit, +8% player mounted travel speed.
- catlike reflexes – New tier 7 talent. +9% pet dodge, +3% player dodge.
- serpent’s swiftness – New tier 8 talent. +20% pet attack speed, +20% player ranged attack speed.
Animal handler is kind of nice. Of course, the travel speed bonus doesn’t stack with spurs or carrots or anything. But that’s really deep in a tree just for the travel bonus – hence the really nice pet bonus.
Catlike reflexes is pretty cool. But it’s way deep in the tree, and kind of pales to the upgrade to improved monkey. Monkey went from 5 points for a +5% to dodge to 3 points for +6%. This leads me to wonder if the base aspect of the monkey dodge bonus is gonna drop from 8% to something less happy? Shrug.
Serpent’s swiftness is pretty amazing. Unfortunately, it’s tier 8 beast spec… which means a lot of points blown in the middle of the tree that aren’t so hot.
They also upgraded/tweaked improved hawk some. So, in stead of 1/2/3/4/5% chance per shot of getting +30% to ranged attack speed for 12 secs, it is now 10% chance per shot of getting +3/6/9/12/15% to speed for 8 secs. It averages out to be about the same amount of speed increase, but it’ll proc way more frequently, and that’ll make people feel better – and make the buff more useful during shorter fights.
Ferocious inspiration is a new 3 point tier 7 ability. Whenever your pet scores a crit, the entire party gets a +3% to damage output for 10 seconds. There’s no cooldown mentioned… so it’s entirely possible that a beast spec hunter’s pet could equate a semi-permanent 3% damage bonus to the party.
And the new tier 9 talent for beast spec hunters is The Beast Within. It extends the bonus for bestial wrath (the big mage killer tier 7 beast spec ability) to affect the hunter as well. So… 18 seconds of +30% damage and immunity to all crowd control type effects.
First off, lots of people will notice that hawk eye (the +attack range ability) has been moved out of the marks tree into survival. Kalgan claims this is because marks was getting too heavy with goodness. I beg to differ, but whatever. If I were really looking to balance the trees, hawk eye would have gone into beast spec – since it’s even got an appropriate name and everything 😛
Go for the Throat is a new tier 3 (2 points) talent that causes your ranged crits to give your pet 50 focus regen. Which is amazing. I’m one of many people who are kind of confused why this one didn’t go into beast spec as well, but whatever. I’m not complaining. I’m getting it.
They also added another tier 3 passive talent (2 points), Rapid Killing. It gives you a +20% to damage from your next aimed/arcane/auto shot after killing a target worth xp/honor. The buff lasts 20 seconds, which gives plenty of time to select and aimed crit a new victim. But wait, there’s more. This talent also decreases the cooldown on your rapid fire ability from 5 minutes to 3. Which means… a lot more remembering to use rapid fire, I think 🙂
They completely removed improved scorpid sting – which is probably a good thing, it was kind of a junk talent. They have just one new tier 4 improved stings talent (where improved serpent used to be) that increases damage from serpent, wyvern, and viper by 30%. So, not great, but much better than it was. This almost makes viper worth using on anything other than a shaman/paladin/hunter in pvp – from 1108 to 1440 mana damage (half of the average lvl 60ish low mana char’s pool).
Scatter shot is now a pre-req for trueshot aura. This doesn’t make much sense, but whatever.
The other big tier five change is the new concussive barrage talent that gives your auto shot a 6% chance of dazing the target for 4 secs. That’s right. It’s free concussive shots. All the more reason for me to hate concussive shot as wasteful garbage 🙂 Add to this the increased damage from arcane shot and hunter kiting becomes just that much happier.
On tier six, they give us the new talent that Tony’s drooling over. Two points in combat experience gives +6% each to agility, stamina, and intellect. It is entirely possible to get both this AND the tier 6 survival lightning reflexes talent for +15% more agility… Which is how he’s going to spec his hunter (0/27/34).
Tier seven gives us careful aim for +45% of int to ranged attack power. Consider this and combat experience and aspect of the viper, and they really want to see hunters with more int than they’ve been packing. Currently, this would only be worth 45 RAP (3.2 dps) for me – which really isn’t worth the trouble of 3 points at tier seven. Adding in combat experience on top of my current gear still only means 109 int for 49 RAP (3.5 dps). Nothing to write home about. Trueshot aura is 100 AP, both ranged and otherwise, for one tier 7 talent point, for the whole party. Of course, they do stack… but shrug.
Nothing to write home about, that is, until you get five points in master marksman, the new tier 8 hunter talent. This gives +10% to ranged attack power. So, if I had 1000 RAP + 100 from trueshot + 49 from careful aim, master marksman turns that in to 1264… which isn’t that bad (it’s an increase of roughly 19 dps for having spent 9 points across all three talents).
I think I’d only consider grabbing these three talents if I was building myself for normal attack power (in stead of my current emphasis on crits). Of course, attack power now applies to a few more abilities than it used to, so that’s not a bad thing. I’m guessing Ben will spec his hunter somewhere along these lines.
And of course, then there is silencing shot, which is pretty self explanatory. It’s an instant cast ranged 3 second silence attack on a 20 second cooldown that also does 75% normal damage. And Kalgan says that even if the target is immune to silencing, the damage will still happen – so it’s not a complete waste like scorpid stings on most bosses (who are immune to stat damage). This gives hunters the longest range spell interrupt in the game now. But 41 points in marksmanship is a lot to pay for it – and it doesn’t look like they’re planning on letting you upgrade it at higher levels.
Aside from the addition of hawk eye as a tier two talent (moved over from marksmanship), nothing changes in survival spec until tier 5 when they add survival instincts which reduces costs of traps and melee abilities by a whopping 40%. It also reduces the cooldown on traps by 4 seconds (so from the new cooldown of 30 to 26 now). Pretty nice for a hunter who’s pretending he’s a melee char 🙂 I think I can stand the 4 second wait on my traps.
Tier six introduces resourcefulness, which for three points, will reduce all damage taken by 6%. Yeah. Overpowered? Probably. Am I complaining? Not really.
It’s already been mentioned that wyvern sting will be usable during combat. This suddenly elevates it from party trick to danged useful. Of course, it’s still on a 2 minute cooldown, but they’re changing it to a base 1.5 sec casting speed in stead of whatever your weapon’s normal rate of fire is… so shrug. We’ll see. I might keep it.
Expose weakness (tier 7, 3 points, requires 5 points in lightning reflexes) gives your ranged crits a 30% chance of increasing attack power of everyone attacking the victim by 25% of your agi, for seven seconds. Thus, my current 315 agi means +94.5 attack power for a few seconds after I crit, which I do a lot. This essentially obsoletes trueshot aura.
And as if tier 7 survival wasn’t getting enough love, they also give us thrill of the hunt, which for three points is a 100% chance to regain 40% of your mana back when you crit any shot.
Tier 8 just gives hunters more ways to score crits with master tactician, 5 points = 6% chance per ranged attack to increase crit chance by 10% for 8 secs. So… yeah.
Then tier 9 gives us readiness, which just flushes all remaining cooldowns. Really, I can’t see any general use for this one, since most hunter cooldowns worth worrying about aren’t that bad. But if it’s the difference between 10 seconds left to feign and avoid a party wipe? It could be worth it. Oh, and it’s only on a 5 minute cooldown, so you can probably abuse it pretty heavily during boss fights and stuff.