Tag Archives: specs

mechromantic specifications

So, it is no secret that Borderlands is one of my favorite games of all time. Steam lies and says I’ve spent almost 400 hours between the two games. That is a gross underestimate. I believe I probably have finally spent more time on BL2 now than I did with BL1 and all of its DLC’s combined, and between the two games, they probably do add up to the “individual” FPS with which I have squandered the most time now.

When Gaige the Mechromancer was released as BL2’s fifth playable class, we were stoked. A coworker and I decided to try her out as a dedicated duo. Last week, we finished our second playthrough with our pair of mechros. These characters were never more than 15% of a level apart – mostly the result of spec experimentation on random mobs.

As we played to level 50 and beyond, we experimented with every imaginable character spec possible. He spent the entire time as some variety of Anarchy build and I spent most of my time in the lightning damage tree but occasionally tried heavy BFF or other random combinations. I even tried running Gaige in melee with a roid shield.

The end result is that we’ve returned to a pair of builds that are interesting and effective.
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rift altohol purification system

I am a well-known altoholic, so I always plan on rolling one of everything. The game’s class mechanics are kind to me in this respect – as I only need to level 4 characters to experiment with all of my options. So after some experience with several good days of beta playtime and almost as much time poring over each and every skill tree in the game… I’ve decided upon five specs that I am hoping to get a chance to play with next month. Two for my cleric, and one more unique one for each of the other classes.

It’s time to talk about the second of my 5 chosen specs.

To be fair, the cleric specs are the ones I’ve spent the most time considering and the others are just being thrown in for completeness – and because they hopefully show some of the cool things that should be possible in this game. I’ve already shared my tanking cleric spec, and it is proving to be quite successful. I am level 27 now and have tanked invasion bosses with it – but will admit that I’ve not done any instances with this build since I’m uncomfortable tanking pugs in unfamiliar content.

One thing with which I am comfortable in unfamiliar content, however, is healing. At 18, I successfully healed an IT run with a Warden build that I kind of slapped together on my way to the instance. It was not pleasant. Warden healing is very effective solo or on trash pulls, but its lack of mitigation and burst heals make for very stressful boss fights. I found myself depending heavily on my Sentinel off-spec spells to keep the tank standing.

Last night, my guild ran DSM 4 times in succession – after a failed clear attempt the night before where we did not bring enough dps. For three of those four clears, I main healed the group – which shifted membership slightly between each run so it was a unique experience every time. The build I used was level 26 Purifier/Sentinel/Warden containing most of the purifier points planned for the larger level 50 build discussed here and a handful of the sentinel ones. Overall, it went very well and with the exception of the final boss fight, I didn’t have any problems – but even then, I was able to keep everyone standing and had zero problems with threat generation, mana efficiency, or self preservation.
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rift speculatory specification

Okay, so I find myself needing to apologize. It has been an unacceptably long time since I’ve written anything. I also apologize for the unfocused and unusually verbose braindump you are about to witness. I’m just too out of practice. My RL excuses for this are: a period of unemployment and job hunting finally leading to a new job, a new baby, major repairs around the house (I built a fence!), two moves across state lines, burst pipes rendering my house uninhabitable, and a successful game open beta launch. But meh, that’s just excuses.

In that time period, I wrote 5 articles that haven’t made it here. Hopefully the time will present itself to re-evaluate 2 or 3 of them in the next month.

But for now, something more current 😉

RIFT is gearing up for what feels to me like it might be the most successful western-style fantasy mmorpg release in 5 years. I am going to play it. And I am going to write a lot about it.
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wrath of the hunter king

Well, it’s about that time again. WoW’s second expansion is in beta, and will be bringing with it an absolutely staggering number of changes. So far, I am very pleased with the way things are going.

Today, I am going to try to confine my ramblings to the subject of the hunter talent tree upgrades. Pet changes, new spells, and upgrades to old spells will have to wait until a future post or two. And of course, I’ve also got to write about the priest changes. Hmm… And I’m trying to get my warlock to 70 before the expansion as well… Anyway. Hunters. Talents. Go.

Beast Mastery Talents – 53 points

  • Improved Aspect of the Hawk – rank 5/5
  • Endurance Training – rank 3/5
  • Focused Fire – rank 2/2
  • Aspect Mastery – rank 1/1
  • Unleashed Fury – rank 5/5
  • Ferocity – rank 5/5
  • Spirit Bond – rank 2/2
  • Intimidation – rank 1/1
  • Bestial Discipline – rank 2/2
  • Frenzy – rank 5/5
  • Ferocious Inspiration – rank 3/3
  • Bestial Wrath – rank 1/1
  • Catlike Reflexes – rank 3/3
  • Invigoration – rank 2/2
  • Serpent’s Swiftness – rank 5/5
  • Longevity – rank 3/3
  • The Beast Within – rank 1/1
  • Cobra Strikes – rank 3/3
  • Beast Mastery – rank 1/1

Marksmanship Talents – 5 points

  • Lethal Shots – rank 5/5

Survival Talents – 3 points

  • Hawk Eye – rank 3/3

Beastier Mastery

At present, my hunter is a pretty heavy beast mastery spec. If things remain largely unchanged, he will likely become even heavier beast spec immediately upon getting the expansion. Of course… there is so much goodness in the pending changes that I might not actually stick with beast spec much past 70, but this is my current plan for day one in Northrend.

First, let’s discuss what I’m planning on giving up (initially). In order to get 53 points in beast mastery, I will have to give up 11 points from marksmanship and survival. The talents that are going byebye:

  • Humanoid Slaying (3 points, T1 survival) – No real pain here. This reduces my damage & crit damage caused to Humanoids by +3% each. Of course… this talent is gone in the expansion anyway. It’s being replaced by the 5 point Improved Tracking ability which gives you +5% base damage to whatever you’re tracking. It’s nominally an upgrade, but it’s not worth the points.
  • Improved Hunter’s Mark (5 points, T2 marks) – Shrug. This talent causes my mark’s +AP bonus to apply to melee damage as well (ie, my pet’s). That means -110 AP that my pet would normally enjoy against a target I’ve marked. That’s roughly 8 dps + whatever specials might gain from AP. In the expansion… the talent gets a major buff. Cost is reduced to 3 points and it also gains +30% to resist dispel. I like the improvement, but it’s still not earthshaking.
  • Go for the Throat (2 points, T3 marks) – This one makes me cry. Go for the Throat causes my pet to regenerate 50 focus every time I score a ranged critical hit. Getting this talent back will probably be my first major focus – with the planned build, I’ll be able to get this back at level 77.
  • Aimed Shot (1 point, T3 marks) – This one also makes me cry. I refuse to explain aimed shot. Anyone who’s read this far knows exactly what it does. I might pick this back up, but it will take some careful juggling.

But oh… oh what am I going to get in exchange 🙂 It’s gonna rock.

Aspect Mastery is a new T3 beast talent. For one point, it buffs your 3 basic aspects. Viper gets +10% to its mana regen rate. Monkey gets 10% damage reduction – that’s right, flat out absorption when the dodge fails. This also means monkey now helps when you’re getting hit by spells. Hawk gets +50% to its AP bonus. At level 70, hawk is worth +155 AP, so this talent is worth +77 AP. At level 80, hawk will be worth +300 AP… 😉

While I’m going this deep in the tree (and since I don’t need the point for Aimed Shot any more), I’ll also be picking up a 3rd point in Catlike Reflexes for an additional +1% to my dodge and +3% to my pet’s dodge.

Invigoration is a new T8 beast talent that for two points causes you to instantly regenerate 2% of your mana every time your pet scores a crit with a special. My pre-existing talents already give my pet +10% crit chance and double focus regen. I’m losing the focus regen from Go for the Throat but am also picking up both of the new T9 talents…

Longevity costs 3 points at T9 beast and reduces cooldowns on Bestial Wrath, Intimidation, and all pet special abilities by 30%. Intimidate’s cooldown goes down from 60 seconds to 40; Bestial Wrath is down from 120 seconds to 84. These cooldowns were already short enough that I have macros that ensure I am able to burn them almost every time they’re up. The buff makes me giddy.

Reducing the cooldown on pet specials by 30% means I don’t have to rely on my pet’s focus dump ability any more. 30% more frequent crits from specials means 30% more frequent procs of Invigoration and happy joyful mana regeneration.

Cobra Strikes costs 3 points at T9 beast and gives me a 60% chance when I crit with Arcane, Steady, or Kill shot to cause my pet’s next 3 specials to crit… In conjunction with Invigoration, this effectively reduces the mana cost for my Steady shots into the realm of the microscopic.

And of course, then there’s Beast Mastery, the new T11 talent. This will allow me to tame exotic pets (devilsaur, chimera, silithid, etc…) and effectively gives all of my pets +20 levels worth of talent points.

The only new beast talents that I’m not actually picking up with this build are:

  • Animal Handler (T6, 2 points), which gives my pet +4% to hit (that’s never been a problem) and reduces the cooldown on the new Master’s Call ability by 10 seconds (from 60 to 50). I don’t think I’ll be using Master’s Call much. I’ve already got 84 second Bestial Wrath.
  • Separation Anxiety (T10, 5 points), which is quite probably very cool, really. Fully trained, it gives your pet +10% movement speed when <=20 yards from you and then turns the speed bonus into +10% dps once it gets 20 yards away. This makes interception time even faster and generally translates into an almost permanent +10% pet damage (since 20+ yards is a quite normal range for hunters to shoot from).

I’m vaguely torn by Separation Anxiety. Insert pun here. To pick it up immediately upon WotLK launch would mean foregoing +5% crit chance, and my crits already give my pet huge bonuses that I wouldn’t want to go without.

Of course… the other two talent trees have gotten an even bigger upgrade. Beast was already terribly overpowered, so it is only fair. If it weren’t for the lure of exotic pets, I’d be all over the other trees. As it is, I’m having a hard time deciding what I want out of their first 3 tiers.

Marksmanship

The changes to the marks tree mean major improvements to hunter shots, reliable improvements to baseline DPS, and absolute gobs of bonus mana efficiency.

One of my longstanding gripes has been Improved Concussive Shot. In BC, it was a 5 point talent that gave the dubious benefit of a 20% chance of proccing a 3 second stun in addition to the daze effect. There are numerous problems with this that I really don’t want to get into since the bad talent is finally going away. In return, we get a sleek new 2 point talent that increases the duration of the daze by 2 seconds. This is pure awesome. If I were leveling a newbie hunter, this would be my first talent, hands down.

T1 marks also gets the 3 point Focused Aim talent, which gives hunters the same sort of 70% interruption resistance (while charging Aimed & Steady) that other mana-using classes have traditionally been able to buy for low tier talents. I find this to be of questionable usefulness, however – especially since it’s a T1 talent that buffs abilities that aren’t available at level 10. Aimed shot is a T3 talent, so it is first available at level 20. Steady shot rank 1 is level 62…

T2 marks gets some amazing changes, I’ve already mentioned the buff to Improved Mark.

Careful Aim makes an appearance at T2. All the way down from T7. Yup. They moved a tier seven talent down to tier two. And then they buffed it 3x. In stead of a puny +45% of your int converted into RAP, it now gives a full +100%. Epic win.

They have also switched the locations of Mortal Shots (+crit damage) and Efficiency (-mana cost). Mortal Shots is now T2 and becomes Aimed Shot’s pre-req (in stead of the other way around). Efficiency wasn’t very important at low levels, so moving it up to T4 makes more sense (when it’s saving you more than 1 or 2 mana per spell).

In stead of Careful Aim at T7, marks hunters now get Piercing Shots for 3 points. This gives Steady and Aimed shots the ability to ignore 6% of target armour. Very unshabby.

Rapid Recuperation is a new 3 point T8 ability that helps mana efficiency. While using Rapid Fire, both the hunter’s and pet’s abilities are 60% cheaper. This makes for a lot of focus dump happiness for your pet. Additionally, Rapid Killing (which already reduces Rapid Fire’s cooldown) is improved by giving you a mana regen tick that heals you for 150% of the damage dealt by the +20% damage shot you fire to use the Rapid Killing charge. This is quite probably enough to keep high level hunters at full mana forever, so long as things keep dying.

Wild Quiver is a new T9 (3 point) talent that gives you a 10% chance to fire an additional auto shot at 60% damage. Combine this with the fact that heavy marks hunters will likely be using Improved Hawk in stead of Viper (since the marks tree is really taking care of the hunter’s mana needs without it now)… and you have a LOT of extra arrows flying.

T9 also gets Improved Steady Shot (3 points). This gives your steady shots 15% chance to increase the damage of your next aimed/arcane/kill shot by 15% while reducing its mana cost by 40%. See? I told you. Mana efficiency.

The new T10 marks talent is Marked for Death (5 points). It gives your already improved hunter’s mark an additional +10% damage dealt by the hunter & pet and increases your critical strike damage bonus of all shot spells by a further 10%. This really encourages the hunter to mark their targets but I wonder how it plays out with multiple hunters firing on the same target. Do they all get the bonus, or does only the hunter who placed the mark?

And Chimera Shot is the new T11 talent. It’s a 10 second cooldown shot for 125% damage that refreshes your current sting and procs an additional bonus depending on which sting was active. Serpent deals 40% of the sting’s normal damage instantly. Viper heals you for 60% of the amount it drains (mana efficiency). Scorpid procs a 10 second disarm attempt that can only occur once a minute. All told, way cool.

Survival

The big change at T1 for the survival tree is that the former pair of 3 point talents Monster Slaying and Humanoid Slaying have been replaced with the 5 point Improved Tracking. I’ve already discussed this above, but just to reiterate:

  • Only costs 5 talent points in stead of 6.
  • +5% damage in stead of +3% damage and +3% crit damage.
  • Works on whatever you’re tracking in stead of just 4 different creature types.

T2 gets a new talent called T.N.T.. Hehe. This gives your fire traps 15% chance to deal a 2 second stun when they do damage (I assume this means 15% each time the dot procs…). It also increases the crit chance of your explosive trap by 15%. And… the talent also extends these bonuses to your Explosive Shot (which is the new T11 talent that effectively acts as a ranged explosive trap). I could live with this.

Tier 2 also gets Survival Instincts. Yup, another high tier talent moving down into cherry picking range. They didn’t even nerf it in the process (but they didn’t buff it like they did Careful Aim). This formerly 5th tier talent gives you a whopping 4% damage reduction and 4% AP for 2 points.

T3 sees an upgraded version of Deflection. This talent previously cost 5 T2 points for +5% parry bonus. Now it costs 3 T4 points for +6% bonus. Deflection also becomes Counterattack’s new pre-req (since the old pre-req, Deterrence is becoming a baseline ability now). Win.

T3 also gets Trap Mastery, which is currently unimplemented. But I believe it is supposed to be a combination of the previous T3 Clever Traps talent and the previous T4 Trap Mastery talent.

And… T3 also gets an improved version of the formerly T4 Improved Feign Death. Survival Tactics (2 points) is Improved Feign Death (+4% to difficulty to resist feign) plus a 4 second reduction to Disengage’s cooldown.

At T4, Surefooted is slightly changed to cut the duration of snares in half. Previously it supposedly gave you a +15% chance to resist them, but I’m not the only one who’s noticed that a lot of CC/snare/etc… type effects are, well, simply irresistible. So this is a nice improvement. They’re actually doing this sort of thing all across the board (changing chance to resist effects that weren’t ever actually resistible to a reduction in that effect’s duration).

Lock and Load is a new 3 point T4 survival talent that gives you a crazy weird clearcasting type effect that procs whenever you trap a target or 15% of the time you sting something. The proc is that your next 3 arcane and explosive shots are free to cast and have no cooldown (they normally both have a 6 second cooldown). I really wonder if successive explosive shot dots stack… because explosive trap + 3x explosive shot = actual big boy aoe dps. This would actually make hunters vaguely useful in situations where previously only mages & warlocks would do.

Hunter vs Wild is a new T5 talent for 3 points that increases you and your pet’s AP by 30% of your total stamina. 5 points in Survivalist are the nominal pre-req, but when considering taking a talent like this, who’d pass up a +10% stamina bonus anyway?

Noxious Stings is new at T8 and has Wyvern as a pre-req and gives your wyvern sting a backlash effect that hits the dispeller for 50% of the remaining sting duration. In addition, it also increases all damage dealt to victims of your serpent sting by 3%. This really improves the usefulness of wyvern in pvp and makes serpent a nice addition to an improved mark in group situations. I don’t think this should be a T8 talent with a pre-req… but there really isn’t room to put it anywhere else 😉

Point of No Escape is a new T9 survival talent that costs 3 points and increases the crit chance of all attacks on victims of your ice traps (and possibly bear trap, but I think they’re doing away with that one). This is very nice for frost trap and potentially very very fun with the rumored changes to freeze trap (it won’t break on any old damage now). This means you might get to cycle off two big crit shots into something when breaking its freeze now.

Sniper Training is another new T9 talent (3 points). This increases the damage dealt by steady, aimed, and explosive shots by 6% when you are >30 yards away from the target. It also (possibly more importantly) improves your chance to crit by 15% when executing with Kill Shot. It’s kind of a shame this is so mutually exclusive with Separation Anxiety (+pet dps at long range).

The new T10 survival talent is Hunting Party (5 points) and serves as an awesome hunter version of Vampiric Touch (shadow priest spell that dots an enemy and turns the damage into mana for the party). Hunting Party has Thrill of the Hunt as a pre-req (regen 40% of shot costs when you crit) and heals your whole party’s mana/energy/rage/runic power slightly whenever you crit with an arcane/explosive/steady shot. Hehehe. Oh, and remember, TNT gives explosive shots +15% to crit while Lock and Load makes them subject to chain clearcasting 🙂

And of course then there’s Explosive Shot at T11. We’ve already seen numerous other talents that improve it, but what is it? It’s a ranged explosive trap on a 6 second cooldown. It hits the primary target for a good chunk of fire damage and then splashes everything within 5 yards with a dot for half of the base damage again over 2 seconds.

And so… with so many wonderful options, I am really starting to wish for the first time that they will let us dual spec somehow. It would mean I can keep my insanely heavy beast spec for soloing and take something from marks and/or survival for groups/pvp. Mmm. Happy ideas.

Anyhow, I’ve spent entirely too long on this, and now I’m less sure than ever of what I’ll be doing with my 10 shiny new lvl 71-80 talent points. Oh well. Respecs aren’t really that expensive after all.

remarksmanship

This post was originally started back on Oct 31, 2006. It has since been rewritten three times.

With the advent of Burning Crusade, I was pretty torn on how to respec my hunter. I’d played up into my 50’s as a heavy marksmanship build before switching to heavy survival. I’d meant to post my build ideas before the expansion landed, but I was otherwise occupied.

Currently, I am back to a very heavy marksmanship build (43 points). I’d planned on spending the remaining 18 in survival, but decided against it when I dinged 61. At present, I have a 1/43/9 build and am planning on spending my remaining points in the recently upgraded low tier beast talents in an attempt to increase my general durability.

== current build – 9/43/9 ==

The general thought behind my current build is reliable damage. I don’t crit nearly as much as I used to, but I hit hard and I hit consistently, and I can continue doing damage even when low on mana.

There’s not a whole lot to say about these talents except that they’re much better than they used to be. Endurance Training and Thick Hide together give me +5% hp and +10% armour from eq and give my pet +10% hp and +20% armour.

The point in Focused Fire is planned as my my lvl 70 talent. It gives +1% damage output and +10% crit to kill command. It might almost be worth getting two points in Focused Fire for the additional +1% damage in exchange for a small loss in defense.

Not a lot to say here. My goal here was to get Silencing Shot. It’s nice. I like it. I wish the cooldown were a bit shorter, but it does still work well as a ranged interrupt (the only reliable ranged spell interrupt in the game, I believe). More importantly, it allows you to pull casters. This has always been a pain, LoS pulls not generally being possible in wide open places 😉

Efficiency is critical. Every build should have it. 10% reduction in mana costs to shots and stings (where 99% of your mana is going in the first place…) are not to be underestimated. Especially for a hybrid class that gets way less mana than full caster types.

Rapid Killing is nice. It’s only two points and it gives you a 20 second buff when you kill something that gives you +20% damage to your next hit. This encourages opening combat with Aimed Shot. In addition, these two points also reduce your Rapid Fire cooldown by 40%.

Rapid Fire is amazing. +40% ranged attack speed for 15 seconds in exchange for 100 mana. So… in stead of firing one arrow every 2.5 seconds, you wind up firing every 1.8 seconds. What that really translates to is an extra 2 shots for 100 mana. The single most mana efficient attack ability hunters ever get.

Concussive Barrage isn’t that impressive initially. Woo hoo. It dazes your opponents. Occasionally. This sort of thing would be nice while kiting… but you’re prolly already using concussive shot and frost traps already… No, what Concussive Barrage is really all about is the new shot that hunters get at lvl 62.

Steady Shot costs 110 mana and can be fired off once a second. It does (RAP * 0.3) + 150 damage and an additional 175 damage to dazed targets. Thus, if you pay attention and spam steady whenever your concussive daze goes off… you can get 3 or 4 hits in on the dazed target for some happy bonus damage.

The nine points in survival go well with any build.

Hawk Eye is absolutely critical, however. With it, hunters have the longest attack range of any class in the game. Without it… shrug.

Monster and Humanoid Slaying give +3% to all damage dealt to beasts, humanoids, dragons, and giants and an additional +3% to crit damage against them. These mobs make up the vast majority of the killable things in the game. You can do a lot worse than to spend points here.

== heavy crit – 0/20/41 ==

The general idea behind this build is to crit hard and to crit often.

Wyvern Sting is great (12 sec crowd control, 2 minute cooldown). Now that you can use it in combat, it’s even better. It’s awesomely fun in PvP, and is one of the only ways I know of to reliably take people down as they fly past you on their epic mounts. If you go anywhere near this deep into Survival, it’d be a crime not to pick up Wyvern.

Killer Instinct is an additional +3% to crit rate on top of the +5% you pick up from Lethal Shots. With the +3% to hit from Surefooted, you will be scoring dramatically more crits with just these few talents alone. Add in +15% agility from Lightning Reflexes, and that crit chance goes up even higher.

Thrill of the Hunt means that any time one of your shots (aimed, arcane, steady) crits, you get 40% of the mana back.

Expose Weakness means that 30% of your crits cause everyone attacking your victim to get a heavy bonus to their attack power for 7 seconds.

Master Tactician means that every time you land a ranged hit, you have a 6% chance of getting a +8% buff to your crit chance for 8 seconds. I’m only grabbing 4 points here because I think the 5th point in Mortal Shots is worth slightly more than it would be here. Ie, that is a +2% to crit chance that is effective for 8 seconds after every 6% of your hits versus +6% to crit damage every time you crit.

== chainmail tank – 11/27/23 ==

This build is meant for hunters who somehow manage to keep taking damage. It’s not enough to make you tank better than, oh, say… a shaman… But it gives you some incredible survivability when you do wind up getting hit. The goal here is to avoid dying long enough to either kill your enemy or to run away.

4% damage reduction from Survival Instincts is not to be underestimated. That’s four percent of every hit from every source you ever take. This is better than getting +4% max hp. Much, much better.

Deflection is a very nice toy. +25% to both parry and dodge sounds like +50% to avoid getting hit to me. It only lasts 10 seconds, and is on a 5 minute cooldown, but 50% damage avoidance for 10 seconds can make an enormous difference. Throw improved monkey and deflection into the mix and you are now dodging at +39% and parrying at +30%.

Add do this the numbers I’ve already talked about from the other low tier beast talents and +10% more hp from Survivalist… it’s still not always enough.

There’s nothing shameful about running into a corner and playing dead.

Feign rarely fails against stuff of your own level or lower, but it frequently fails vs stuff that’s bigger than you. Improved Feign Death pretty much reduces your chance of failure to zero versus mobs of your own level, and gives you a very good chance against things 1 or 2 levels higher.

Scatter Shot is a great stalling tactic when running away. It works within the dead zone and as an instant cast, you can fire it while jumping around a corner.

Finally, the +15% chance to resist movement impairing effects (snares – daze?) from Surefooted can’t hurt when trying to get out of a crowd of uglies in order to find a safer place to fall over.

== machinegun dps – 7/45/9 ==

With the death of the old 10 second cycle and the improvements to arcane shot, I like the idea of a hunter build that can not only keep up with a rogue for burst dps, but can make the rogue look like a paladin by comparison. This is the closest I’ve come up with. Of course, it makes an OOMkin druid look like a Dark Pact warlock, but shrug 😉

As long as you keep yourself well hydrated, load up on mana regen eq and take advantage of Aspect of the Viper between fights and when low on juice, it can work.

We’ve seen most of these talents before in the other heavy marks builds. But the philosophy behind this build is a bit different.

Improved Arcane Shot means a 16.7% increase in the rate at which you can bombard things with arcane damage. In addition to loading up on mana/5 eq, a healthy smattering of +spell/arcane damage eq would not be entirely wasted either. You’re still doing a mix of physical and arcane damage and should be switching over to Steady Shot whenever you daze an enemy, but the arcane shot damage is pretty impressive when you speed it up.

Rapid Killing is also still important in this build, much more so because of the 2 minute cooldown reduction on Rapid Fire. The extra 2 or 3 shots you get from Rapid Fire are two or three chances for physical damage crits on top of whatever you’re getting with arcane. When you have the Rapid Killing buff in place, consider opening fights with arcane in stead of aimed shots, a crit with magical damage can be a lot more impressive than with physical. And it’s faster.

In addition to spamming Rapid Fire and Arcane Shot, the other important part of this build concept is Improved Hawk. I’ve talked about this talent before (in basically every other post I’ve ever made on hunters), but it bears repeating here in context.

Improved Aspect of the Hawk gives you a 10% chance with every normal ranged attack of getting a +15% attack speed buff for 12 seconds. The 10% chance means that this effect should proc roughly once every 25 seconds of combat if you’ve got a 2.55 normal ranged attack rate (that’s a 3.0 second weapon and a +15% speed quiver). 12 second buffs proccing every 25 seconds = 50% of the time 😉 Plus, of course, there’s also the slightly increased chance while the buff is active that the effect will proc again.

With a +15% speed quiver and a 1.8 speed weapon, you get a normal attack rate of 1.53 seconds. Improved hawk should proc roughly once every 15 seconds in this case, ie, it should be an almost constant effect that gives you an attack speed of closer to 1 second. Throw Rapid Fires off whenever you’re under the influence of the improve hawk effect and … your attack speed number suddenly becomes something closer to 0.36 for 15 seconds. That’s 41 arrows.

War Master Voone drops a lvl 55 green 1.6 speed bow. It’s only 36 dps, but…

== animal trainer – 46/12/3 ==

I am strongly tempted to play with this build, and I’m probably going to at least give it a whirl when I hit 63 and catch myself a warp stalker

The goal is to stand back and let your pet do all of the work. Fire normal shots with a fast bow and concentrate your mana on keeping your furry little assassin friend alive.

This is the only beast spec I’m going to discuss, so pay attention 😉

First off, the things I’m not picking up. I’m not grabbing Efficiency, I’m not grabing Rapid Killing, and I’m not grabbing the Human/Beast Slaying talents. You don’t need these as much here. You’re relying on your pet to do all of the work. Firing your own weapon (ideally something fast) is just a way of scoring crits in order to proc the 50 point focus regen bonus from Go for the Throat.

I’m also ignoring the whole Beast Within chain because I see it as primarily useful in PvP. The goal with this build is not to send a pet charging through fear spells to eat mages, it’s to let the pet eat mobs for you.

Ok, grabbing Improved Revive and Mend should be a no brainer for any beast spec hunter. Keeping your pet alive and getting rid of nasty debuffs is essential… Spirit Bond is also incredibly nice, 2% max hp regen every 10 seconds for both you and the pet equates to +40/5 hp regen if you have 4000 hp. This regen continues during combat.

Unleashed Fury means +20% dps. Ferocity means +10% crit rate. Bestial Discipline means 2x the focus regen (+whatever you’re giving your pet from ranged crits). Animal Handler means +4%. Catlike Reflexes means +9% dodge (on top of the +10% hp and +20% armour already mentioned). Improved Hunter’s Mark means your Mark is suddenly quite useful to your pet (increases their damage).

Serpent’s Swiftness means +20% to attack speed for both you and your pet. More attack speed for you means more frequent crits and more +50 focus heals to your pet means more often your pet can use its own attacks.

+20% attack speed for your pet means a vicious feedback circle of destruction. With Frenzy, your pet gets an additional +30% buff to attack speed that lasts for 8 seconds after every crit the pet lands. By giving your pet +10% to crit from Ferocity… the faster attacks are much more likely to crit, which procs more faster attacks, which are likely to crit and maintain the maniac attack speed…

To top it all off, Ferocious Inspiration gives your entire party (self and pet included) an additional +3% to damage done for 10 seconds after the pet scores a crit. This is phenomenally better than Trueshot Aura’s +100 AP (~7 DPS), especially when you consider you don’t have to actively cast it, and that it improves damage for casters as well as physical types.

update – Feb 4th, 2007

I was sick most of this weekend, so naturally I had to do something silly when not curled up in bed. That something silly was a respec to the beast mastery build above. I’m lvl 63 at this point, and have only purchased the one point in Serpent’s Swiftness (so am missing the 4 points in swiftness and 3 points in Catlike Reflexes). And… the build is useful.

I feel much more durable in general than the other build (I’ve got about 5000 hp and 50/5 hp regen). However, not having Aimed Shot or Wyvern or Silence is weird… In fact, I don’t have any abilities gained from talents. My personal DPS (ie, that achieved by shooting arrows into things) has decreased by about 20-30 since the rebuild. However, my pet’s DPS has increased by 40-50 points. Plus the pet’s inspiration buff is almost always active… for +3% DPS to the entire party.

The beast build kills slightly more quickly than my “reliable” build. But it feels VERY different, and takes a very different mindset to play effectively. I am also basically guaranteed to die when my pet dies. I’m planning on trying to stick with this build until 66 or 70, depending on my mood. I suspect that the final 4 points in swiftness will make an enormous difference in my attitude, but I’ll have to wait and see.

burning crusade plans

Ok, I’ve thought it over some, and figure I should write down my desired warcraft specs for current and planned chars (kind of like I’ve done with respect to CoV in the past).

Allaryin

Al is my main. He’s a lvl 60 dwarven hunter who spent most of his life as a marksmanship spec before they rebalanced the talent trees and I switched to a mostly survival (think trap and crit) spec. I lose trueshot aura, but I gain +15% agi and numerous other goodies. I’ve got like 18% crit now.

Since Blizzard hates hunters (or at least always saves them for an afterthought), they’re the only class w/o BC talents announced. So, I won’t comment on my plans for Al at this time. Chances are high that I’ll be grabbing a few more marksmanship talents and dropping a few points from survival. I might possibly dip 5-10 points into beast spec for some improved base aspects, depending on what happens.

Chokuretsu

Choku is my primary alt. She’s lvl 39 gnomish warlock at the moment with heavy affliction and some destruction tendancies. I’m gonna continue working with her up until 50 before resuming the quest for exalted Gnomeregan and Stormpike faction on Al. Once Al has his rep toys, Choku makes the final push for 60.

I am giddy about the new chances to warlock talents in the expansion. They’re making affliction spec even happier – throwing out lots of junk ranks and generally happifying the tree. Choku becomes the imp-draining, dot-happy font of infinite mana.

Affliction Talents – 41 point(s)

  • Suppression – 5/5
  • Improved Corruption – 5/5
  • Improved Drain Soul – 2/2
  • Improved Curse of Agony – 2/2
  • Fel Concentration – 5/5
  • Amplify Curse – 1/1
  • Grim Reach – 2/2
  • Empowered Corruption – 3/3
  • Siphon Life – 1/1
  • Curse of Exhaustion – 1/1
  • Shadow Mastery – 5/5
  • Contagion – 5/5
  • Dark Pact – 1/1
  • Improved Howl of Terror – 2/2
  • Unstable Affliction – 1/1

More DOTs. When I’m not dotting, I’m draining something. When I’m neither dotting or draining, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing. I might be spamming destruction spells for extra DPS or something.

Drain Soul is amazing in the expansion. Not only does the spell (which is already a fairly cheap form of damage output in addition to the whole shard production thing) become resistant to interruption with Fel Concentration, it gets Improved Drain Soul which turns it into a huge mana heal (as if I need more of those :P) as well as reducing threat generation from Affliction spells – which never hurts.

I’m utterly addicted to Siphon Life. I can’t imagine playing a warlock without it 🙂 It’s like a hunter w/o Aimed Shot. Plus, it adds a fourth dot to my cycle.

Amplify Curse didn’t wow me very much at low levels when I got it on my way to acquiring Siphon for the first time. But at high levels, it should be pretty nice – especially when combined with Improved Curse of Agony.

Curse of Exhaustion is horrible right now. But, by turning it into a single talent spell (in stead of the 3 or 4 talents required to make it useful at present)… I think I like adding it to my fear chain.

The new tier 9 talent, Unstable Affliction is just one more DOT on the pile. It also carries with it the benefit inherent in many of the new BC spells in that it backfires when dispelled. I’m all for that.

Dark Pact is the real reason I’m going heavy affliction spec, however. It turns my pets into mana batteries…

Demonology Talents – 17 point(s)

  • Improved Imp – 3/3
  • Demonic Embrace – 5/5
  • Fel Intellect – 3/3
  • Fel Domination – 1/1
  • Demonic Aegis – 3/3
  • Master Summoner – 2/2

Ok, general idea here is to always have a maxxed out and above all passive Imp on hand. They get buckets of mana. Fel Intellect gives them more. With the imp on passive, they just sit and regenerate mana for me to Dark Pact away.

Demonic Embrace and the imp’s Blood Pact (with +30% bonus) give me tons more hp to power spells when the Dark Pact cycle proves insufficient. Throw some heavy runecloth bandages into the mix and I’m regenerating an additional 2000 mana every minute.

Master Summoner and Fel Domination make it easy for me to get my imp back in the odd event that it somehow gets into combat and dies.

Destruction Talents – 3 point(s)

  • Cataclysm – 3/5

Spell cost reduction is spell cost reduction. And I figure the major reason I don’t always use destruction spells (aside from their being possible to interrupt forever) is their cost. If I’m generating tons of mana, I figure it can’t hurt to decrease the cost of my spamming spells just a bit more.

Kyaneos

Kyan used to be my primary alt until I rolled Choku. She’s the other char that transferred with me from Sargeras -> Detheroc -> Terenas. Been around for a while. Never gonna purge char, but don’t play her very seriously either. Human paladin. Currently lvl 27 or so and built for retribution with a big enchanted hammer of kaboomitude.

I expect to resume work on Kyan once Choku hits 60 and concentrate on grinding her to at least 40 (A paladin w/o a free horse is hardly a paladin at all, don’tcha know).

Once she hits 40, however, I’m planning on shifting gears from a solo sort of zombie slaughterhouse on legs build to a a very balanced sort of unkillable healer build.

Holy Talents – 35 point(s)

  • Divine Intellect – 5/5
  • Spiritual Focus – 5/5
  • Healing Light – 3/3
  • Aura Mastery – 1/1
  • Unyielding Faith – 2/2
  • Illumination – 5/5
  • Pure of Heart – 3/3
  • Divine Favor – 1/1
  • Holy Power – 5/5
  • Blessed Life – 5/5

Aura Mastery is kind of neat, it’s a +10 yard bonus to aura radius. That means I’m more likely to be covering my hunter if he’s off in a corner away from me, but more importantly, it means that I can stand back and heal from full range and still benefit my melee party members with my aura.

Illumination means that critical heals are free, Divine Favor and Holy Power increase the odds of my getting those free heals by a great deal. Since paladins get so little mana compared to other healing classes, free heals are a good idea.

Blessed Life is the big talent for my whole ‘indestructable’ theme to the healing paladin. It’s essentially a permanent 5% reduction to all damage taken. Ever. From any source. Yay!

Protection Talents – 16 point(s)

  • Improved Devotion Aura – 5/5
  • Toughness – 5/5
  • Blessing of Kings – 1/1
  • Anticipation – 5/5

Redoubt is nice, but Improved Devotion translates into more reliable damage reduction – and it helps my party when I’m using it. At level 60, Devotion is worth 735 AC before the talent. That makes this talent worth 294 additional AC to everyone in your party.

Toughness is a no brainer if I want not to take damage, as is Anticipation.

And Blessing of Kings is great to have on hand since I’m already taking Anticipation.

Retribution Talents – 10 point(s)

  • Improved Blessing of Might – 5/5
  • Deflection – 5/5

Deflection means 5% more parryable attacks that don’t hit me. If you’re keeping score… I’m really not taking any damage by this point.

Llamedos

Llammy is my NE druid. He was created with the intention of giving my wife somebody to party with w/o powerleveling her. What actually happened was that I managed to maintain the character for a while – until she got a day off from work and ground 4 or 5 levels in my absence. She’s lvl 28 now. Llammy is still 12 😛

So, he’s absolute last priority for me. If I manage to hit all of my other targets before BC comes out, he’s planned as a hardcore balance spec nuke. Think mage in platemail to go along with my paladin.

Balance Talents – 47 point(s)

  • Improved Wrath – 5/5
  • Improved Moonfire – 5/5
  • Natural Weapons – 5/5
  • Omen of Clarity – 1/1
  • Nature’s Reach – 2/2
  • Vengeance – 5/5
  • Lunar Guidance – 3/3
  • Nature’s Grace – 1/1
  • Moonglow – 3/3
  • Moonfury – 5/5
  • Balance of Power – 2/2
  • Dreamstate – 3/3
  • Moonkin Form – 1/1
  • Twilight’s Wrath – 5/5
  • Force of Nature – 1/1

The whole point of this char is Moonkin Form. And in the expansion, they’re buffing it way up. The biggest happiness here is that the form now gives a bonus of 150% to attack power and gives melee attacks a chance to regenerate mana. Combine with the 5 point Natural Weapons pre-req for Omen of Clarity… and OoC suddenly becomes very viable and useful.

The rest of the balance talents are pretty self-explanatory. I want mana, and I want to cast lots of hard hitting spells with that mana. And, of course, Force of Nature plays right into my whole summon addiction.

Restoration Talents – 14 point(s)

  • Improved Mark of the Wild – 5/5
  • Nature’s Focus – 5/5
  • Reflection – 3/3
  • Insect Swarm – 1/1

The real reason I’m taking any resto talents at all is for the Reflection mana regen increase. Nature’s Focus is kind of a no-brainer since I’d probably be caned for not taking it, and Insect Swarm is a nice cheap DOT to use while I’m healing people in caster form.

Omnia

When BC launches, my family is planning on making an army of blood elf priests. I’m still very torn on the subject, but will most probably be building a horde priest (either BE or undead who just levels in BE territory with them, not sure yet) to join them (my current largest horde char is Arbor, the lvl 18 cow warrior).

Since we’re gonna be 4 or 5 priests in a little war party of infinite healing, I’m planning on making the char 100% with support of other priests in mind. That said, we’re looking at the disciplined feedback priest, subject to tuning based on experiences in the group.

Discipline Talents – 38 point(s)

  • Unbreakable Will – 5/5
  • Improved Power Word: Fortitude – 2/2
  • Improved Power Word: Shield – 3/3
  • Martyrdom – 2/2
  • Inner Focus – 1/1
  • Meditation – 3/3
  • Improved Inner Fire – 3/3
  • Mental Agility – 5/5
  • Mental Strength – 5/5
  • Divine Spirit – 1/1
  • Improved Divine Spirit – 2/2
  • Power Infusion – 1/1
  • Reflective Shield – 5/5

Divine Spirit is the big one here. I figure if we’re gonna have a full gang of priests, somebody may as well grab this. A 30 minute guaranteed +Spirit buff to everyone in the group means tons more mana. I’ll be rushing for this talent at level 30. That’s right, it trumps Healing Focus (since others will be able to heal me).

That’s the other thing, I figure if some priest has got to tank, it may as well be the one who’s already going deep into Discipline. So, I’m avoiding some of the more obvious threat reduction talents in favor of making myself slightly more able to stand still and survive getting hit a bunch.

Holy Talents – 23 point(s)

  • Healing Focus – 2/2
  • Improved Renew – 3/3
  • Spell Warding – 5/5
  • Holy Nova – 1/1
  • Blessed Recovery – 3/3
  • Inspiration – 3/3
  • Holy Reach – 2/2
  • Improved Healing – 1/3
  • Spirit of Redemption – 1/1
  • Spiritual Guidance – 2/5

And when I DO wind up dying, I get to play Spirit of Redemption to keep the other priests alive so at least one of them is left to rez me 🙂

Adryn

When BC lands, I’ve always planned on rolling a Draenei. I’ve been ranting about this one for like a year now 😛 And I’ve finally decided that I need a draenei mage. Because, well, nothing says lovin like 7 feet of electric blue death with a free heal over time self-buff 🙂

I’ve always said that mages need summons, and since they’re finally getting water elementals in the expansion… (even if they are only temporary summons :() AND since big blue frost mage really works for me on an aesthetic level, the choice here is pretty obvious.

Since mages are probably the class with which I am least conversant, this build idea is extremely tentative here. I was actually thinking about going heavy arcane spec, just because nobody ever really does… but I’m addicted to summons.

Frost Talents – 42 point(s)

  • Improved Frostbolt – 5/5
  • Elemental Precision – 3/3
  • Ice Shards – 5/5
  • Improved Frost Nova – 2/2
  • Piercing Ice – 3/3
  • Cold Snap – 1/1
  • Arctic Reach – 2/2
  • Frost Channeling – 3/3
  • Shatter – 5/5
  • Ice Block – 1/1
  • Winter’s Chill – 5/5
  • Ice Barrier – 1/1
  • Arctic Winds – 5/5
  • Summon Water Elemental – 1/1

My only thought with the frost talents right now is getting criticals, and lots of them. And, since I’m gonna be generating tons of crits, I need to mitigate my threat production as much as possible while still doing obscene damage… and need to be able to survive when I do wind up pulling aggro.

And it has a summon. Have I mentioned that I really like summons? 🙂

Arcane Talents – 19 point(s)

  • Arcane Subtlety – 2/2
  • Arcane Focus – 3/5
  • Magic Absorption – 5/5
  • Arcane Concentration – 5/5
  • Arcane Fortitude – 1/1
  • Arcane Meditation – 3/3

I had to choose between 20 points in arcane or in fire. Since I was already planning on going arcane spec, that helped sway my decision. But really, the few cheap arcane talents really make for a happy mage. Fire is just more dps 🙂

Arcane Subtlety and Arcane Focus mean more of my spells hit when I cast them, and that I have the option of using arcane nukes in stead of ice when I need to tone down the aggro production.

Magic Absorption and Arcane Fortitude increase my general survivability (along the same vein of the protective frost spells) and I’m not gonna complain about the mana healed when I resist a spell.

Arcane Concentration means clearcasting for 10% of my nukes. Which really means 10% overall reduction in mana cost for all damage spells. Add Arcane Meditation for the continued regen while casting, and I’ve got enough juice to hammer on things for a good while (and with as many ice crits as they’re liable to suffer, it doesn’t actually have to be all that long).

Other Chars

I’ve mentioned that I have a tauren warrior. I don’t see much point in discussing his spec, if he ever really advances much further. He’s a cow, with armour. He’s gonna be a tank (which would be kind of fun with 3 BE priests for backup).

I’ve also got a low level shaman, but I don’t feel any compulsion to advance the char further and will gladly saccrifice him in order to make room for my priest or mage 🙂