Friday, November 12, 2010

A View from Behind the Scope

I know a lot of hunters are disheartened with our class right now, and I see a lot of reasons for that. I share the feeling of ennui that many may be feeling now (some are even abandoning thier hunters!), but mine are probably on a different level.

Mana –> Focus

When I first heard about this, I rejoiced. Hey, it's a resource of some sort, but "mana" just seemed so … magish. We're not mages with guns, we're Hunters!

Also, our pets … used Focus. So, why are we on different mechanics? Didn't seem right.

So, going in to this, I was pretty much looking forward to the conversion from Mana to Focus.

I had no idea how complex that change would turn out to be – little things, like talent builds, were completely invalidated by this change.

But when all was said and done, I find this change to be acceptable. I have heard some people complaining about running out of focus a lot. I've altered my rotation a little bit to provide enough Steady Shot hits to keep me flush enough to handle any of the special abilities when they become available. Does this gimp my DPS a little? I don't think so. After all, what's your DPS look like when you're out of focus, hmm? Yeah, thought so.

So, enough bitching on that. The class has that mechanic fairly well sussed.

No more ammo

Call my an old fogey, but I always felt that the ammo aspect gave the class some of its feel, not to mention flexibility. There was some really good ammo, and there was some really cheap ammo, and you could decide which to expend based on the situation.

Yes, I know that "huntards" would occasionally run out of ammo in the middle of an instance, but that does help draw the line between "awake" and "asleep". Can't damn the whole bunch on a few bad apples. Besides, who hasn't?

Don't get me wrong. I don't abhor the absence of ammo. I just feel a little diminished.

Beast Mastery: ORLY?

The first spec I went with right off the bat was BM, because that's my thang. But here's the thang: it … feels wrong.

Well, it feels DIFFERENT. BM was always a more dynamic spec than Survival or MM; our shot rotation was simpler because we had other things to do. Wrath lowered those expectations, true, but the ace BMs generally did more than spam Steady Shot and auto-attack with the pets.

The new BM, however, feels more like SV or MM than ever. There IS no shot rotation. It is a priority system, now, with Steady Shot at the bottom of the list, and everything else that involves a proc or requires focus above it.

Nevertheless, since I've played all three specs, this is nothing to overcome. I'll have to learn new tricks, but that's OK.

But this really bothers me

Pets.

Pets are what defines a BM hunter. They have previously been a major contributor to our DPS output.  I strongly disagree with Mr. Ghostcrawler that BM hunters get too much contribution from pets. To me, there is no such thing as "too much" when it comes to pet DPS contribution in the BM sphere. Beasties are our raison d'ĂȘtre -- it's what we do.

Well, we're not remotely close to being in danger of that in this expansion, and this is what may be the dealbreaker for me. Pets, in this expansion, seem to be more of a buff for the party than a companion to the Hunter now. You don't bring your best DPS pet, now. You bring which ever one contributes to the raid the most.

There's even a flowchart. I'm not kidding.

The buffs, by the way, are not in addition to the old pet abilities. No, those have been stripped away. Any special abilities that the pet has are pretty minor now. Your Spirit Beast is no longer a Laser Kitty. Your Devilsaur no longer has the ability we fondly call CHOMP.  

They didn't do a perfect job on that, though – turns out, for BM hunters, there IS one beast that has superior damage compared to the others, and that's the Core Hound. I suspect that'll get nerfed.

No Love

The entire Pet shakeup has turned BM into something new, something alien, and honestly, a bit of a let down.  Wrath stole our crown as DPS kings and queens, but gave us the really awesome ability to get special pets. Cata seems poised to make that irrelevant.  And that makes me sad.

I've stuck with BM for so long because, regardless of DPS output, it was still a lot of fun to play, and felt unique compared to the other two. With the massive pet changes, this doesn't seem as much the case, suddenly.

At this point, I'll start looking at the other two specs to see how they play. If one or the other is more fun … I may end up ditching BM in favor of one of those. It will be a very sad day for me if I do.