Cataclysmic: Hunter change preview

Well, well, well, well, well…

The hunter-class changes have finally appeared, and my sliding scale has moved a little more towards “Rabid Anticipation” and away from “Vague Dread”. Upon reading this, my thought was “This could work… This could actually work.”

Make no mistake, I still don’t understand why it’s necessary to pull the rug out from us hunters and change our resource system completely. Having played quite a bit as a kitty druid I find that I prefer the hunter “Use something every GCD” approach to the kitty/rogue energy system. I was dreading my shot rotation becoming something like…

Serpent Sting
Arcane Shot
I need more focus
I need more focus
I need more focus
Arcane shot
I need more focus
I need more focus
I need more focus
Arcane shot

…and so on. However! It seems that our shot priority will actually be pretty similar to what we have today. While focus regeneration is lower than the rogues / cats energy regen rate, firing Steady Shot or Cobra Shot (the elemental version of SS) will regenerate focus at twice the rate, costing nothing. So:

Arcane Shot
Steady Shot / Cobra Shot (for BM)
Steady / Cobra Shot
Steady / Cobra Shot

Will be a possibility. Whichever shot priority eventually ends up on top we’ll be pressing something every GCD, much as we are today. The addition of extra haste will increase focus regeneration. If Beastmasters stay haste-capped from talents, it’ll work out well for us!

Let’s have a closer look at just what that class preview uh… previewed:

New Spells!

  • It’s about time Trap Launcher came along.While Freezing Trap always was the most useful one to use at range, I’m looking forward to projecting frost, snake and explosive traps too. Frost I could see being useful in PvP – why freeze someone when one of your allies will fire on them and break them out within the next 0.0001 seconds. Slowing people down seems like a good plan to prevent them moving out of your range / closing you down and hitting you with pointy bits of metal. And snake trap because it’s damned cool. Bombs and elemental ice? I can see a hunter building a trap that incorporates them. I still haven’t quite worked out at what point it became a good idea to cram a dozen angry snakes into a trap. How do you stop them coming out while you’re cramming more in? Wouldn’t they savage you? It must take so much skill and persistence to build the damn thing that it seems a pity to not use it.
  • Cobra Shot: So, a new elemental-damage shot that will become a BM signature shot. I feel… neutral. Now don’t get me wrong, I like signature shots and I support this alternative to steady shot. It just doesn’t make me excited in the same way that, say…
  • Camouflage does! Kinda-somewhat-stealth for Hunters. This has always, always seemed like something missing from the hunter class. While I don’t think we should be ranged-rogues, hunters don’t just crash through the undergrowth, run up to their prey and start blasting away! If a hunter is hired to slay – for example – some kind of evil pirate-necromancer-lord, he will not rashly charge into the enemy stronghold. A Marksman will sneak into position and end it with a single shot. A Survivor will sneak into position and build some kind of explosive using only a knife, a handful of boiled gnomish sweets, some wood and flint and tinder. And then blow everything the hell up. A beastmaster will sneak into position and then watch as his Sabrecat deprowls and horribly kills the evil one.I know it’s not true stealth – it’s merely an “obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage” – but it’s better than no camouflage at all. Stalking skills must be practiced or lost.

No more Ammo!
Wha?! I knew there was a plan to get rid of consumable ammo, but they seem to have dispensed completely with the ammo slot. Personally, I never had a problem with ammo. Yes, once or twice as a lowbie I ran out of ammo in an inconvenient situation, but that’s a lesson you learn quickly. It’s all part of being a hunter – don’t start an instance or get yourself into anything without sufficient ammo. As an engineer, I always liked being able to build my own ammo and supply others in my group. As a miner / engineer, I suppose I never really saw the expense of ammo which I understand is the main reason that it is being removed from the game. Additionally, since engineering has very few potential sources of income it’ll be interesting to see if they compensate for the loss of ammunition as one of those sources.

Pet Management Improved!
I like what they’re doing here. Call Stabled Pet has already been reduced from 30 to 5 minutes, and now its going away in favour of being able to summon one of the three (or maybe 5 for BM!) pets you currently have ‘with’ you at any time out of combat. I also like the sound of being able to store a ‘large’ selection of pets at the stables and then choosing three (five sire!) five to have quick access to. And starting with a pet at level 1? All I can say to this is FINALLLYYYYYYYY… It has always seemed a little silly to me that hunters play a completely different game 1-10. Starting them with a race-appropriate pet and then letting them learn Tame Beast at 10 seems like an excellent solution.

One thing I’ve not seen mentioned yet is the enhanced pet control mentioned some time around Blizzcon. I’m interested to see if they’ll come up with an enhanced way of letting us control our pets, or perhaps making pets behave in a more sensible way – not standing in stuff, for instance.

Mastery Bonuses are Revealed!
So we finally get to see what they have lined up for our Mastery bonuses. Ranged damage is on all three (surprising!), but the three trees each have one ‘old style’ bonus and one new, unique bonus.

BM gets haste (which genuinely is surprising as haste is currently utterly, utterly useless for us) and pet damage (which is uh… expected). I like the fact that we’ll be able to directly affect pet damage rather than stacking AP to indirectly improve pet damage. As for haste, it suggests that BM will be somewhat different post-cataclysm. Seems like a good bet, though, since haste improves focus regeneration.

Marksmen get Armor Pen (of course) and Double Shot. My understanding is that Double Shot gives a chance to launch a second attack at 50% damage. The more mastery you have, the greater your chance to Double Shot.

Survivors will receive ranged critical damage (which I imagine they’ll be pleased with) and Elemental Damage. Elemental damage adds arcane, fire, frost, nature or shadow damage on top of certain abilities. While this sounds pretty cool, we’ll have to wait until The Beta to see how much damage is added.

It’s certainly looking like my fears about itemisation being boring were unfounded. Agility / Crit / Haste / Mastery appear to be the Big Four for hunters. At what point do we stop stacking Agility and go for Mastery? Will beastmasters want to look for haste at all if its included in our mastery bonus?

It is interesting to compare the class preview to the information in the original BlizzCon announcement. I have a pretty high confidence in Blizzard’s ability to not screw my class up at this point!

/cast Rabid Anticipation (Rank 1)

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