EDIT EDIT: The 31-point talent trees are out! I have written about them here.
EDIT: Naturally, Blizzard have decided that the talent trees are to be scrapped and completely redesigned. We should keep all the spells and most of the passive bonuses I discuss here, though. Maybe. Perhaps. Here’s details.
The developer notes state that the Beast Mastery tree is 95% complete, so I’ve been playing with WoWhead Cataclysm’s talent calculator. I threw together some experimental BM builds to familiarise myself with the tree and… well, I’m excited. I’ve put together a quick and completely experimental 54/17/5 spec, but obviously I have no way of modelling or testing it at the moment. I equally could have gone down into Survival for Hunter vs Wild and that might work out better for Beastmasters – Bestial Discipline, Focus Fire, Fervor, Kindred Spirits with the Marksmanship Go for the Throat and Sic ’em may well be far, far too much pet focus regen / efficiency. It’s probably also worth noting that the extra talent points put Readiness in range for 55-point or less Beast Masters, so that’s an interesting possibility.
Here’s a few of the things that I’ve discovered while playing around with the beta tree:
The catastrophically terrible:
The Beast Within no longer states that ‘you cannot be stopped unless killed’. This text IS still in the description of Bestial Wrath, which suggests that it applies only to the pet and not the hunter.
I love Bestial Wrath breaking fears and stuns. Make no mistake, I’m not great at PvP and I’m going to die anyway, but it’s a real Highlord Tirion Fordring “GRANT ME THE STRENGTH TO BREAK THESE BONDS! RAAAAARGH!” moment. It was fun, and if it’s not a tooltip mistake I’ll probably resent Blizzard for fixing something that works well. Yeah, hunters kill quite a lot in PvP, but we also die more than anyone else at level 80 (according to Armory Datamining). That does not indicate that we have too much ability to avoid crowd control :P
The good (or at least interesting):
One with Nature – Improves Hawk (just Hawk now, BTW – don’t know where Dragonhawk went) RAP bonus by 25% and Fox focus regen by 10% (five points).
Bestial Discipline – Now five points, improves pet focus regen by 30%. It’s not the only thing that affects pet focus regen either, will pets be using more abilities in Cataclysm?
Improved Kill Command: KC focus cost reduced by 5/10. It’s not that interesting. What’s interesting? The new Kill Command! It’s almost but not quite entirely unlike old Kill Command. Observe:
Kill Command: 40 Focus (baseline). Give the command to kill, causing your pet to instantly inflict (435 + (RAP * 0.2)) damage to its target. Your Pets happiness increases the damage done.
So, it’s an instantly damaging attack, now, scaling with AP and pet happiness. Quick number crunch: If I have 7000 RAP, Kill Command’s hitting for 1835 with no Bestial Wrath. How much does pet happiness improve this? Nobody knows! I have no particular attachment to old kill command. Especially when…
Animal Handler: Increases your Kill Command crit chance by 10%.
Intimidation: Hasn’t changed. Which is good. Alright, this entry probably didn’t really need to exist but… I like Intimidation!
Invigoration: When your pet critically hits with a “Basic Attack” you regenerate 3/6 focus. Future me isn’t being focus starved, I guess.
Envenomation: Reduces the focus cost of venoms by 10/20. What are we going to DO with all this focus? Spend it on Bestial Wrath I suppose…
The bloody amazing:
Frenzy: Old Frenzy? It was alright. New Frenzy improves pet attack speed by 5% every time it lands a “Basic Attack”. Which is… okay. Oh, yeah, it stacks five times, so after the ramp up your pet will be attacking 25% faster. Crikey. Well, until you cast…
Focus Fire: Consumes all your pet’s Frenzy stacks, grants 10 focus to your pet and improves your attack speed by 3%. For every stack consumed. For 15 seconds. Ahahaha.
Fervor: Instantly restores 50 focus to you and your pet. The Beastmaster of the future has absolutely mental focus regeneration… Cooldown? Unknown.
Kindred Spirits: Increases you and your pet’s maximum focus by 5/10.
Aspect of the Monkey: Reduces cooldown on Disengage by 2/4 seconds when critted by melee and reduces Deterrence cooldown by 4/8 seconds when critted by a spell or ranged attack. I probably won’t take this except maybe for PvP. Why is it in this category, then? Because it’s one of a couple of spells that reference Disengage, which means it’s probably staying in despite its disinclusion from the MMO Champion hunter-spell list!
Rhumba: I’ll let Blizz handle this one. “When you cast two Steady Shot or Cobra Shot attacks in a row, your next Steady Shot or Cobra Shot will summon 3 Rattlesnakes onto the enemy target. If the enemy target attacks a friend or foe, a Rattlesnake will instantly strike the enemy dealing damage equal to 15% of your Steady Shot or Cobra Shot damage.” This makes no sense at all. I have no idea how effective it will be. But it sounds damn cool.
The Beast Within: Yeah, this was up there under Catastrophically Terrible. It’s also bloody amazing, as it reduces the cost of all abilities by 50% while active. We are firing for maximum effect here…
What does it all mean? So far as I can tell at this stage, coupled with our mastery bonus (which is Ranged Damage, Ranged Haste and Pet Damage), Beast Mastery’s looking pretty fun to play – different, but still with an emphasis on hunter/pet synergy. The hunter however will be firing very very fast and regenerating focus like crazy. Rapid Fire + Focus Fire + Beast Within? That is a LOT of ammo flying around.
It sounds like – apart from the BW change, bah – Beast Mastery is shaping up to be a lot of fun to play, and very distinctive too. I can’t wait to get my hands on this future-hunter and see how it all works in practice!
/cast Frenzied Anticipation (Rank 5)