September 10th, 2013 / Category: Hunter / Permalink
The Things We Say, When We Do Not Think: The Past and Future of Our Class
My name is Paul Lamb. I’m a Hunter. You could say I’m at the top of my game. But something just isn’t right, and lately it’s getting worse (ok, no more Jerry Maguire rip offs…maybe).
I started playing WoW just before the launch of WotLK, and was immediately fascinated by the Hunter class. Up until Dragon Soul, I played a Hunter exclusively. So I’ve seen a LOT of changes in my time wielding a digital bow and arrow! Much of it good, some of it not so much.
The next 800ish words will provide my outlook on the problems currently facing the class, and how I feel steps to fix them could (or should) look.
Let’s start with the “problems” with the current state of hunters. There are 2 main issues that face hunters today:
“Help me, help you” (ok, I lied about the Jerry thing) that has been a long standing message that the developers have pushed on the community, asking for feedback and suggestions in every faucet of the game’s design. When this has worked, it has been great (see the recent Warlock rework). Sadly for Hunters, everything the community has cried out for has been granted. We have become a victim of our own (development) success.
We didn’t want a minimum range – gone, positioning just got far easier
It’s not fair that melee get to auto attack on the move and we don’t – done, movement penalties just got less severe
Aspect swapping is annoying, we all just macro it anyway (nb. I didn’t) – gone, now we have NO movement penalty at all.
My pet dies too much – pets made more resistant to AE, we don’t need to micro them, and they are effectively one huge dot.
With the removal of some of the more subtle complexities of huntering (word?), as noted above, we’ve been left with a play style in which the vast majority of the “difficulty” lies in pushing the right button at the right time. Which in order to maintain on par with the difficulty of other classes, has resulted in severe button bloat, with more than 20 keys that are required during any given fight (not including any pet abilities that aren’t on auto cast).
Spec differentiation (or lack of):
This doesn’t need much of a description, it’s exactly what it says on the tin… when I swap specs, and I move exactly 2 core buttons each time (1. Explosive Shot, Kill Command, Chimera Shot and 2. Black Arrow, Frenzy, Aimed Shot), and occasionally an active talent too. Now while there is still a slight difference in feeling, changing specs should, in my opinion (and that of the dev team) be a total game changer for the player (much like swapping between ele/enhance shaman).
How do we fix it?:
If it were my call, the fix for this would require a fairly hefty overhaul of the hunter specs and talents. Dropping some of the newer cooldown-y/fire and forget buttons (Dire Beast, Murder of Crows, Blink Strikes etc) and either baking them into the spec or dropping them in favour of passive/utility options.
Changes that would need to be implemented across all specs would include:
Increased responsibility for pet survival (you’ll see why with BM),
Increased benefit to managing player movement well (via Aimed Shot for MM, Melee pet range for BM, etc).
Focus would be adjusted so that pets and the hunter SHARE a focus pool.
Pets would be limited to auto casting buffs (no focus cost), and auto attack (no focus cost). All other abilities would incur a focus cost and require a key press to initiate (which would usually be less optimal for non BM players)
With this in mind, here’s a rough idea of how I’d see each spec playing out.
This spec will get taken back to its roots, to the symbiosis of Hunter and Pet (“you complete me”). Complex standard rotations would take a backseat whereas micro managing your pet will be the key to the game play. With the vast majority (70-80%) of the hunter’s damage being done by pet abilities (possible utility options would include a space closer with a med-high focus cost) Mend Pet (and in the worst case Revive Pet/Heart of the Phoenix) should be an important part of this spec. If your pet dies, your DPS is badly affected.
Would ideally look very similar to the way the spec currently plays, but with a focus on traps, and trap positioning. Skill shots (reticule aimed, rather than targeted) with Explosive (AE) / Immolation (Single target) would replace the currently fire and forget Black Arrow mechanic for LnL procs. Sniper training (in its “stand for x seconds to receive buff” form) would make a comeback in an effort to promote well managed movement. Pet damage would ideally make up ~10% of the damage output, pet deaths would not be catastrophic, but along with sniper training would be the difference between average and good play).
Will again, on the surface look similar to the way it plays now, but with increased emphasis on Aimed Shot via making Piercing Shots increase your aimed shot damage on proc. Something like “your piercing shots crack the enemy armour, if you can hit the crack (i.e. aimed shot) your shot does x% more damage). This would encourage well managed movement. The Steady Focus buff in its current form is almost impossible to lose, but if tightened up is an interesting mechanic that would sync up well with the reliance on aimed shot.
Pet damage in MM spec should be in a similar place to that of SV (see above).
In summary: Less abilities, More personal attention. (ok ok, that’s the last one!)