Archive for the “Hunter” Category

The Godmother of ALT:ernative is cooking up some Hunter goodness, but, alas, she ran into some sort of obstacle and, sadly, was forced to present this on her site:

[Please imagine that there is an AWESUM HUNTER GRAPHIC HERE, which will appear sometime late Saturday when
I get home to scan the drawing I did especially for the occasion...]

Never let it be said that I wasn’t there for my fellow Hunters.  I present to you: a placeholder.

Huntarr Week

I’m no Picasso, but it does come close to capturing a fraction of the awesomeness that is the Hunter class1.

Meanwhile, head on over there and give the nice lady your support!


  1. I was not drinking when I did this, I promise! []

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(Fifty quatloos to the person that knows where that title came from – no cheating with Google!)

It is with a heavy heart we report the retirement of Warcraft Hunters Union and Frostheim’s time at the blogging wheel.

You could kind of see it coming; entries there were light at best.  There was no MoP Hunter Guides for many months after the expansion went live. It was getting a bit dusty and tatty around the edges. 

But there was a robust and active culture of fellow hunters there that just couldn’t be beat. 

He and I didn’t always agree on things.  But, you can’t really engage as a writer without, as he says, having an opinion.  He’s no BRK, and thus sometimes his opinions were delivered with a bit less subtlety and a lot more noise.  Then again, nobody ever WILL be BRK, just as there will never be another Frostheim.

I’m not sure where our next premier site of Hunter Goodness will be.  What I do know is that the Hunter class is just too awesome not to have one before too long.

I’ll see you there when that happens, and we might even bump into ol’ Frosty.

Stoke me a clipper.

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When I get ranty, I tend to pound out around 2000-3000 words of pure snark and outrage, then spend several days tweaking and adjusting and, yes, most definitely, deleting. Because even though a good rant is a thing of beauty, my rants tend to lean in a hurtful direction initially, and I have to go back and trim out the potentially offensive stuff (well, if it’s not deserved …).

I mention this not to emphasize the fact that I have trollish tendencies, but to illustrate why, so many times, these sort of things get posted so late in the rant cycle. In fact, I’d say a good 60% or more never get posted at all, simply because I can’t de-toxify them fast enough to keep them relevant.

As it turns out, yesterday’s rant came in just under the wire, though I had no idea at the time that that would be the case.  As a rant, it stands on its own, but as a meaningful comment on the current state of the Hunter, it’s already obsolete.

Late in the night last night, Lore posted a few changes to the class that directly address concerns in the post I lined in MMO-C.

Regarding Stampede: We’re happy with the damage it’s currently putting out in PvP. For PvE, we’re planning to buff its damage pretty heavily, so it becomes a substantially more potent DPS cooldown. We don’t want to give it any more utility than it has now, for reasons we’ve explained at length already.

So this emphasizes what GC was saying about the intended purpose of Stampede1 in the first place – it’s intended as a DPS cooldown, not a utility cooldown, and thus they’re upping the damage to make it “worth your while”  My opinion, of course, is that any insta-cast ability that bring even a sliver of additional damage is worthwhile anyway. But more is always welcome.

Readiness is still under heavy discussion, and we haven’t made a final decision on what we’re going to do with it in 5.4. At the moment, we’re leaning towards just removing the ability entirely and giving the affected abilities shorter cooldowns or charges to compensate. If we end up taking that route, we will buff Hunter damage (most likely across the board, not just specific abilities), but as I mentioned, we’re still discussing.

I’m good with removing it, as it reduces the clutter of my startup anyway, and it never worked across the board for all abilities in a consistent way (e.g. Stampede). However, adding “charges” to abilities looks fraught with possibilities, mostly negative. There’s the potential for bugs that don’t get caught on the PTR2, and there’s the potential for complicating an already complicated rotation.

Demonology warlocks, for example,  will already know one of these pitfalls with Hand of Gul’dan; it has two charges, both available initially, and both with separate cooldown timers. Do you put both down immediately?3  Do you stagger them, and if so, how much? And so forth.

Ponder-worthy as we move forward.

Murder of Crows vs Blink strike is also still under heavy discussion. Our goal (with all talents) is that active abilities used properly will outperform passive ones. We haven’t decided yet what adjustments we’ll make to achieve that in 5.4.

Generally speaking, an explicit action when compared to a passive ability usually involves some sort of cast time, which is where a passive becomes so attractive for classes with very crowded rotations. In this case, there is no cast time involved, so the passive is actually less attractive if it doesn’t bring damage commensurate with the active ability.  I think here they need to shoot for parity rather than supremacy.

I also like the phrase, “talents used properly.”  That has to be a dig at someone – who, we may never know.

Scatter/Silencing Shot: We don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory in PvE.4

Thank you.

Now, to clarify, what I am pretty sure Lore means here is that they don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory for hunters.  Anyone that’s raided anything at all knows that interrupts of some sort are absolutely, positively, without any doubt, mandatory for the raid.

If a Hunter would rather not take the Glyph of Scattered Thoughts, there are plenty of other players in the raid who could take on the responsibility.

Thank you.

We like Silencing Shot as a Marksman perk overall, but we’re still discussing things. We may end up making a baseline Interrupting Shot that gets upgraded to Silencing Shot if you spec Marksman.

In fact, this has already shown up on the PTR – it’s called Counter Shot.  Currently an NPC ability, but available to a PTR Hunter near you starting immediately.

Speaking of spec differences, we agree that Hunter rotations feel cooler when your signature shots do a lot more damage than other shots, and we’ll discuss that some more. That’s part of the reasoning behind the Arcane Shot changes – our hope is that saving up more Focus for a bigger hit will feel better than firing off smaller shots more regularly.

This seems strangely disconnected from my experience as a Hunter, in that I rarely need to “save up” focus for anything, and I rarely lack focus to use my signature shot, thanks to appropriate use of Cobra Shot to keep focus above a certain point5.

Besides, reducing the cost of Arcane Shot seems to be counter to encouraging the preferential use of OTHER abilities.  Unless they mean that by reducing the cost here, they’re making focus available for other shots so that they get used more often.  Again, I hardly ever delay the cast of my signature ability over focus costs, so I’m not sure where this is coming from.

What I WILL say is that I feel like “Arcane Shot” is a bizarre ability for Hunters, period, now that we don’t use mana.

As to overall Hunter performance and utility, we don’t think the issues are with the Hunter class specifically. Instead, we think that certain other classes are overperforming (in both) at the moment. Fixing those outliers will, in turn, make a good Hunter more attractive for their raid spot. You may have seen some (but not all) changes along those lines on the PTR already.

OH JUST PUT A “KICK ME” SIGN ON OUR BACKS.

Realize that every nerf from now on out will be blamed on Hunters.


  1. Tooltip reflects current 5.3 damage. []
  2. Always happens. []
  3. They stack. []
  4. The second response after Lore’s post immediately disagreed with him on this. []
  5. 40 for Kill Command, for example. []

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Welp.  Post-moving, we’re still playing catch-up with the bills.  A gigantic phone bill was settled at the expense of cable and internet. It’ll be back on in a couple of weeks, and things should be better from there on out.

mifiStill, I’ve got network of a sort, via a nifty personal hotspot device. And while 4G may be fast enough to play, I fear that would eat up our bandwidth allotment, and I need that for job hunting and snarky blog posts.

Oh, yes, there’s snark, of a huntery sort for once.

This little gem posted on MMO-C provides an exemplary example of hunter tears and forum logic. And Ghostcrawler … well, he answered.  I find there to be snarkable material on both sides of this argument.

I want to be up front about something – I’m not attacking the individual that posted this thing.  I am attacking the common mindset that generates such posts.  It’s a further illustration of how forums disease the mind.

So let’s go.

sarcasmWith the recent 5.3 “adjustment” to stampede1, you have removed any kind of utility from the talent2. Simulating my character with the “normal” settings (all buffs on, 5 min fight, 93 target, yada yada) I would lose 1229.7 (-0.52%) DPS in Beast Mastery spec and 2077.93 (-0.93%) DPS in Survival spec.

That’s “interesting”3. Choosing to sim in a 5-man configuration?  As a PvE-er concerned with raid encounters (see below, “Silencing Shot”), HONEST results can only be gained from simulating a raid encounter 4 . This stinks of chicanery and fitting the data to match a theory or preselected opinion. Meesa no approve.

Either way, Stampede now gives us ZERO utility (micro-managing your pets in order to provide buffs your raid did not have during stampede or giving out minor healing through spirit beasts, etc).

  1. Real hunters micro-manage their pets, period5.
  2. Assuming you did bring the spirit beast, I have one word: “macros”.
  3. Regardless of the snark, Spirit Beast is actually simming as a high DPS, so if other buffs are covered, and if you’re BM, look into it.

It is, quite simply, a button we press every five minutes in order to do 0.5-1% more DPS.

A button. Talk about impersonal.

You tell us that you want to deal with hunter’s bars being bloated by too many abilities [...]

too many buttonsActually, they didn’t.  We did, and they said, “maybe, maybe not. We think you’re having trouble counting that high.”  Well maybe not that last part.  But it would have been funny as hell.

In point of fact6 I think we need fewer buttons, too. But I don’t recall anyone saying they’d do me a solid on that.


[...] – yet you take one of our DPS cd’s, make it pretty much worthless, and call it a day. We don’t even gain anything from making sure we use Stampede during haste buffs anymore, because the pets do not use their specials (energy) attacks anymore. It’s a mindless, and completly unnessecary button.

Fascinating.  Having five pets out at once doing DPS of their own – insta-cast, by the way – is considered a net loss to this bloke.  I’m no min/maxxer, but even I know that part of a DPS increase is better than no DPS increase at all.  It’s math!

1.0 > 0

0.1 > 0

See?

GhostCrawler had a thought on this:

Stampede was never intended to provide utility. It’s a DPS cooldown.

But the thing is, I remember distinctly how the Blizz team (including GC) trumpeted the fact that Stampede would *add* the special abilities from the pets as part of the action’s effect.  In my mind, they should say instead:

We screwed up. We went overboard. Sorry.

so sorryThat’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re wrong and trying to fix it.

But also, this.

You may recall that I have complained in the past that making pets into portable buff machines was a bad idea, something that de-characterized the pet and diminished the Hunter class. Read the above with that in mind, and you begin to see the ultimate trajectory of that change to pets.  In WotLK we chose pets based off which did the greatest damage. In Cata and later, the buffs were the thing.  Then they added the five-slot stable so that we didn’t even have to make hard decisions on which pet we brought to a raid.

It’s a very sad end result, really.

ghostcrawlerAnd here’s the stinger.  Crab Man and his ilk comment over and over again how they want to make it so you choose a pet based on how “cool” it is, how it fits in with your idiom and personality.  Read between the lines and reflect on past changes, and the ultimate outcome may be this: pets will have no special abilities, and all do the same DPS, no matter what.  I hope not, but it’s starting to appear that way.


Moving on.

Silencing Shot

In 5.4, we no longer have an interrupt, unless we go Marksmanship – the “weakest” of all 3 specs, from a PvE point of view. For a hunter in a guild like myself, the choise between BM and Survival is currently a 4% difference, and if there is not something that makes Surv better on a specific encounter (pet dying to AOE dmg is one – I’ll get to it in a moment), [...]

Let me stop you right there.

You let your pet die?  And you have the nerve to complain?  Get with the program first!  Your pet is your responsibility.  If the raid’s healer is too busy elsewhere, it’s your job to keep the pet up.  If you can’t heal it, get it out of there. “Micro managing” again.  It’s what leet hunters do.

[...] I will be BM for that increase. Currently, MM is 6% behind survival – a full 10% difference between MM and BM. There’s just no way I’d go MM, even if we needed an interrupt. Taking in any other player would be better, as (and once again, I’ll get to it!) hunters are far from the “top dog” damage wise.

Given what I read, I wonder who IS “top DPS” since so far, every DPS class has had that exact same complaint. What, is it ret pallis and they’re just being quiet about it?

Currently, five of the twelve revealed (out of 14) encounters has interrupts incorporated in them somehow. Is it really fair that hunters will not have an interrupt for this?

You can DPS or you can interrupt.  Pick one.  The role of the Hunter, as BRK once defined it, is to deliver Massive Quantities of Ranged DPS. Period.  You MUST accept that anything else will diminish that.  And a true team member will accept that gladly, if it helps the team out.

brkI remember a vid that I constantly tried to live up to: BRK using Hobbes as a tank on the Moroes fight.  I actually got to try that, and it’s not as easy as it looks.  That’s giving up the DPS in order to be a team player. That’s what it’s about. Not “I must have moar DPS than the other members”.

Back when I was raiding with the Effers, we had a new mage DPS come in to test with us on Dragon Soul. We were on Blackhorn, and still working on getting the strat down – which requires that DPS switch off to alternate targets during the first phase.  For some reason, his assigned targets weren’t dropping, yet his DPS was high. Eventually we figured out it was because he wasn’t handling his targets, and he resented that we insisted that he do so.  Had he not quit the guild because “he just didn’t feel comfortable”, he’d’ve probably been kicked – if not that first night, the following time he failed to pull his weight.

But that’s the thing. They’re not always Patchwerk fights. Sometimes you take the hit.

If you really don’t want to give hunters a silence, atleast give us a PvE interrupt – no silence effect, just an instant interrupt. Spec MM, get the silence? Either way, hunters being the only DPS-class to not have a baseline interrupt is just absurd.

“Just absurd” is not checking up on what other classes have.  Hunters are not alone in this. But guess what? With, say, six DPS and two tanks, you have quite a few interrupts that can be brought to bear. 25-mans even more so.

Ghostcrawler responds.

Silencing Shot is tough. As a talent, it will always get chosen. But hunters don’t need more CC so we don’t want to bake it in.

Somebody will have to explain to me how “[Kil'Jaden's Cunning] will always get chosen, so it must be nerfed” squares with the above tweet.  Using the same reasoning to get to two different conclusions for two different classes must make more sense when you have a PhD in Oceanography.

Pets – Survivability

From a high end PvE point of view7, you have to realise that a hunter see his or her pet as a singletarget DoT with a travel time. In some cases, the pet provides a valueable buff for the raiding team.

Speak for yourself.  I can assure you that’s not how “most hunters” see their pets.  Though it might be a convenient way to conceptualize the damage a pet does, to a certain extent, it’s an oversimplification that doesn’t take into account pet management, situational awareness, or hunter skill8.

This makes it so much more annoying that our “DoT”, as one of the very few, has the ability to die, making us spend precious time ressurecting it. Losing out on the valueable buff at the same time, is a kick in the groin.

Here speaks a bloke that has seemingly never played a DoT class.  I imagine any dedicated DoT class player would gladly exchange a need to “maintain” a DoT rather than constantly refresh one.  Or maybe that’s the same thing. Either way, the proper way to deal with this “traveling DoT” is to heal it, or keep it out of trouble. It’s easier to cast Mend Pet periodically than it is to cast Revive Pet. Hell, if you want to burn focus, macro it.

Pet survivability we can look at, but pets aren’t supposed to be free DPS with no management either.

This time me and the Crab are skoshe. Other classes have to manage their DoTs, and so do we. Our management is just a bit different than others.  It’s a “DoT” that’s maintained by some other spell.  Oh, wait.

If you’re in a scenario with constantly spawning adds, using Beast Cleave as an AOE is sure to get your pet killed, quickly.

You don't say

The AOE-damage it does on mobs is simply IMMENSE, and if the tank does not instantly smash everything in the face, HARD, then the pet will get hit instead. Especially in random dungeons is this a common occurence. We can’t control our pet’s aggro – and frankly, I don’t think we should have to when we’re AOE’ing. Controlling the pets position is enough of a task already.

Pet control is a core feature of being a Hunter. This guy has no grasp on what it is to be a Hunter.  To him, it’s a box. With his epic ego as in input, and epic epeen as a result. I swear to Mammon. This is the difference between leet DPS and leet Hunters.

Blink Strikes now makes our pets instantly blink behind the target if they’re close enough – this is great!

What is NOT great, is the fact that when I say instant, I mean freaking INSTANT. They teleport to the boss, get a 200K special-attack and a melee swing in, all before my first auto shot has even HIT the boss. If I lead in with a Kill Command, you can add another 150-200K threat hit to THAT (which does not get transferred by MD). Simply put, even if I were to misdirect the tank and spam arcane shot for the first 4 seconds of the fight, my pet would STILL jump to the target and hit it quicker than anything could react, and my MD won’t do jack !@#$ to fix it.

I guess nobody remembers the old days when you WAITED FOR THE TANK TO GET AGGRO FIRST AUGH /haet

Oh, wait.

THAT STILL BLOODY APPLIES, YOU GIT.

Jaina FacepalmThen here are some tweets

Please don’t buff hunter’s focus dump. PTR + T16 2pc will reduce value of special shots and homogenize specs.

Can you explain why it homogenizes specs?

It MEANS: “I haven’t got time to provide numbers, so I’m just gonna use words.  Geez!”

Seriously, the term generally implies that one spec is indistinguishable from another.  I don’t really see that, though. Each spec has a different “feel” to it – BM being lightest on its feet, MM being a bit more deliberate and ponderous.

This doesn’t really explain how the T16 2-piece will make the three specs operate the same, though.

Does it mean that one spec is better than the other? I suspect just the opposite. I think this guy’s pissed that he can’t find a perfect cookie cutter spec that lets him pwn the meterz. And I suspect that GC would call that Mission Accomplished.

Then there’s this guy, that REALLY gets what Hunter is all about:

Would you ever consider bringing back the arrows/bullets for hunters with an extra quiver just for hunters to store them in?

I love it!  I absolutely HATED managing ammo and quivers, but I LOVE that there’s someone out there saying, “I think it made Hunters more Huntery.” Light bless you, sir, Light bless you!

We’d like to do a quiver just for the visuals. Ammo returning is unlikely. There wasn’t much depth to that system.

This is Engineer-ish for “JESUS H CHRIST ON A POGO STICK WHERE WOULD I FIND THE MEMORY FOR THAT??!?!?111

I was really gob smacked by this though:

Readiness should do more defensive stuff. Masters call and traps and so forth.

Master’s Call, maybe. Traps were one of the big things we wanted to eliminate.

spit take/wipes off monitor

SAY WHAT??!?!?

I think it’s time to get the Crab off of the Hunter project.  ELIMINATING TRAPS????? That is one of the most … unhuntery … things I can think of.  Traps are a signature attribute of our class.

I swear to the Titans … I will reroll as a Monk ….

that escelated quicklyOkay, let me wrap up.

As you can see, there is intense tension between what it really means to be a Hunter … and what it means to “play the hunter class”, aka just a DPS that happens to be a hunter.

I would like to say that the epeeners and min/maxxers are making vain noises as usual and that the good folks at Blizz are holding the line, but it is patently clear that they are not holding.  The possibility that traps are even being CONSIDERED for elimination indicates that there is something terribly wrong with the designers of our class.  The continued decharacterization of our pets has lead to the mindset that “pets are a DoT”. This is not right.

It is possible, that there is a paradigm shift about to take place.   There were a couple before9, and maybe we’re due another in 6.0 or even earlier.  But what I am hearing is not true to the core of what it means to play a hunter.

Hunters are more than what we bring to a raid. It’s a way of life. Ask a hardcore warlock, you’ll see we’re not alone in this mindset. There is, for lack of a better word, a lifestyle that goes with the class.  That lifestyle will, however, be ejected if you substitute raiding or PvP in place of all else.

It should never be that Warlock = Hunter = Mage = Ranged DPS.  They should not be interchangeable. The whole stated reason for the rework in Cata was to make tweaking the classes easier. So, tweak. Don’t redesign.

We are gamers. We adapt, we overcome. But sometime our patience is tested.


  1. I “Love” how this guy thinks using quotes makes the word “adjustment” seem “snarky and sarcastic”. []
  2. What he is referring to is that pets summoned with Stampede no longer auto-cast their special buffs. They only do damage on auto-cast. []
  3. Ha! I can do that too! []
  4. Options / Target Level / Raid Boss. []
  5. Trufax: BigRedKitty, in Cataclysm, actually had a stable of all of the same pet, each specced to a different task, such as tanking, healing, pure DPS. That was before our current brain-dead pet talent “tree” implementation, but it hints at what a true master of the craft was capable of given the options before him.  We miss you, Daniel. []
  6. I promised my grandmother I’d never use that asinine old phrase.  Now I have to go do penance. []
  7. “Which is why I simmed five-man, durr!” []
  8. “Micro-managing”, again.  I got a surplus box of those words. []
  9. Exchanging mana for focus, making pets more homogenous than before.  And by Homogenous, I mean I have a chart you can suck on if you really wanna see it. NUMBERS, bishes! []

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Everybody knows how awesome Hunters are1. But nobody’s actually put it to song, as far as I know.

Until now.

The merry miscreants at Warcraft Hunters Union2 have come up with a little something. Consider it the hunter community’s Winter Veil present to you. Go forth and thank them.


  1. This is why we keep telling people, to get the word out. It’s one of many services we provide. []
  2. I don’t usually link there because, you know, gold ads.  But I had to make this exception. []

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When Navi came over to say hi, I was working on my transmog "set", if "set" it be. I had replaced the shoulder pieces, but the rest of my outfit was all Tier-thirteeny. It wasn’t pretty, but I did appreciate having the ability to look to the right and left once again. Those T13 shoulders should really come with mirrors or something.

My snark on the T13 shoulders is indicative of what I think about Hunter armor appearance in general.   I don’t even GET the concept of mail-wearing Hunters. Forest leathers are a much more appropriate outfit for us outdoorsy types, but game mechanics (i.e. Mail Specialization) require mail, and you can’t mog mail to look like leather. It might confuse the PvPers1.

Well, a couple of weeks after Navi’s visit, after much Lore-mastering, I’ve assembled what is almost the final product2.

Mog-front

Deadly Bio-optic Killshades are crafted3. Tablet-Bearer’s Pauldrons, Far-a-day Mesh, Fastfuse Gloves, and Bael’dun Chain Leggings all seem to come from a coherent set. I would have loved for this "set" to come in a jade-green theme4, as that would seem more natural for Hunters. But the overall theme here is simplicity of design. No fiddly bits, curly-cues, flying buttresses, flashing lights, glaring eyeballs, or other ridiculous crap5.

Paxton’s Belt and the Talonrend Stompers contrast the blue-silver theme for a couple of reasons. First of all, belts and boots are generally made of leather. Second of all, even though they’re mail, they look like nice, sensible leather accessories.  Third of all, although there are boots that match the armor, I’d run the risk of looking like this:

Blue Power Ranger

Um, no thanks.

The final piece is the gun.

Mog-side

The Tribute Gun was my second choice. My first choice was the Flawless Arcanite Rifle, which has a scope as part of the model6.  The Arcanite rifle is also an engineering crafted item, but the schematic only drops from one particular mob, and apparently nobody’s seen that drop since they were downgraded about ten levels in Cata.

I asked a kind GM about this – Trelladon, who also offered conciliatory waffles – if it had been dropped from the game, and s/he indicated that there is a bug report in about this very thing, so at the moment there just isn’t any clear idea in Customer Support if the schematic is supposed to drop or not. 

Well, once the black market is live, maybe one or the other will drop.  But for now, this will have to do.

The main thing that drew me was the feathers.  I know it’s silly, but that’s such a Wildhammer-ish thing.

So there you go. My look, going into MoP, unless they come out with something new in MoP that I like the looks of better7.


  1. Onoz! []
  2. Ignore the staff. I forgot to unholster the thing before snapping. And staves are irrelevant to Hunters after Tuesday. []
  3. Engineering pride, yo! []
  4. WTB armor dyes. []
  5. Sorry, Blizz, I know your artists have feelings. But a certain segment of your players can’t get past the complete and utter impracticality, garishness, busy-ness, and plain old ugly that some of the sets out there represent, and Hunter gear especially. We’ll talk when they start making armor they’d be willing to wear on a bus on the way to work. Meanwhile I submit that a recolor of old armor sets is not art, it is what we should be doing with armor dyes, and a potential for payroll reductions, if you ask me. []
  6. How odd that they’d have two different models otherwise. []
  7. Figure the odds. Oh, look, moar fiddley bits! []

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While I haven’t really been inclined to get my wookie on and swing a lightsaber, I do follow some aspects of STWOR if for no other reason to have some inkling about what people are getting uptight about.  Usually I end up nodding and saying something like "Some things never change."

One recent controversy did raise my eyebrows, though. There was rumblings about enrage timers, but then a more interesting twist emerged: no damage meters, no combat log.  As so many experience DPSers will tell you, this is pretty stupid.  Here’s one now:

So I’ll come down in favor of DPS races and enrage timers, but only if there are combat logs (and the subsequent parsers and DPS meters) so you can actually FIX the problem if you’re not beating the content. The problem generally isn’t with DPS meters themselves, anyway; it’s with the way some players choose to use them to exclude their "inferiors" from participating in content, and the fact that they often broaden the definition of "inferior" well beyond the needs of the content.

If you think I’m shallow enough to link to this to say I-told-you-so, you’d be completely accurate.

The DPS role is dependent on its numbers, whether you take them subjectively or absolutely is irrelevant.  But of the two, an absolute reference is much better than a relative one. Numbers are absolute. You can feed them into spreadsheets, save them off, compare them to each other. You can make multiple passes and chart your progress or lack thereof. Your damage meter is your friend. If you were doing 20K last week on a particular boss, and only 18K this week, you have something to look in to before you’re the cause of an enrage-timer wipe in the future.

Smug mode: engage.

I’m sure Bioware or whoever will address this to everyone’s satisfaction at some point.  I’m not sure if WoW came with a working addon API out of the box, but given how late it was announced for STROW I’d venture that it was an afterthought and still has some work to go.  I’d advise patience, but that’s not particularly the hallmark of your average STWOR player1. So, good luck with that, I guess.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

That’s not actually what this article is about. Well, peripherally, it is, but only in that damage meters and combat logs are involved and it deals with DPS.  Namely, mine.

A couple of patches ago, we got changes to the Beast Master Hunter spec that promised near-parity with other specs. Then the guild got gutted of over half its overall raiding roster and it became more difficult to judge my performance against those of my fellows. Then there were more adjustments in the last patch, including some buffs to both SV and BM. Then we started inviting some people from another guild to raid with us regularly, which included a SV spec hunter.

I saw that BM wasn’t doing that great at all. He was topping the meters, I was bringing up the rear. My best choice at that point was to focus on utility. I’ve had to do this before, many times, as far back as Kara. Hoping that being useful (rather than deadly) would keep me in the rotation.

Or, I could change specs. Give it a go.

Looking at gear and gems and reforges and enchants, I realized I only had to change one enchant – agi to mastery – to optimize my armor for SV.  Stat-wise, there was virtually no difference.  So, I left myself geared for BM and greased into SV mode.

After looking at the meters, after looking at the combat logs, in all respects, my performance improved. On average, a 3K difference in output, and I’m not really used to the rotation yet.

So here we are at the end of the expansion and I’m having deja vu all over again.  Because this is exactly where I ended up as I started crawling the passageways of Icecrown in the final patch of WotLK. Survival.   BM was the red-headed stepchild of the team; people like me ran it if we had to, but otherwise we used one of the other specs because they delivered what our class is expected to: ranged damage, and lots of it.

So that’s the upshot of my weekend: I guess I’m shifting to SV and swapping my BM pets for a stock of SV. Alas. BM is, by far, my favorite hunter spec, because it’s so darned fun. But sometimes you gotta give up some funsies to get that boss down. And that’s a sad thing. Of all the issues about talents and specs, that is the greatest one of all – that one cannot just play the spec that one enjoys the most and still expect to perform the same as others.  Maybe you get lucky and it works out. Maybe you don’t.

In my case, not so much.


  1. i.e. "Blizzard doesn’t add content fast enough" impatient. []

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After my unsuccessful turn at the wheel in MM spec, I elected to return to the spec of my heart, Beastmaster. The first thing I wanted to do after that was to review my pet options. The world-renowned Big Red Kitty has stayed with BM and has deployed a Spirit Beast kitty named – of course – Hobbes, and the two of them pwn the charts righteously.

He proves an important point, without preaching it, that expertise and execution trump spec and gear. So, yeah, I’m in trouble here. :)

In my research (and much plinking at the target dummies) I found that my kitty was in fact my best non-exotic DPS option, and that my ghost kitty was my best exotic DPS option.  I was a bit surprised at this. Back in the Wrath days, be complained to Blizz that the Spirit Beast was low in DPS – far lower than the difficult in attaining would indicate. Blizz responded that they didn’t intend the spirit beasts to be serious raid pets. More of a mark of Hunter – and BM – pride.  We didn’t like the answer but at least we had a straight answer1.

So this puts my surprise in context. Cat is best – not wolf, not stompasaurus, but kitties. And since pets were turned into portable buff machines in 4.0.3, spirit beasts attained more or less the same damage profile as kitties.

As surprises go, this one is one of the more pleasant.

I also ran this lot through Female Dwarf and got confirmation of the concept, if not the raw numbers.

Thus armed, we set foot in the front half of Firelands last night2. The first three are fights I am well acquainted with, so inexperience is less a factor, and I have a comfortable set of reference runs to help me gauge my performance.

So, in the straight DPS fights, I did better than I expected. Even got off the bottom rung of DPS on a few occasions, a pleasant change. On Beth and Rhyolith, though, I think I need to change to SV, and that means bringing something besides just exotic creatures. Getting the right mix in the port-a-stable will be a challenge.

On Beth especially, I felt useless on the spiderlings because my trap cooldowns were much longer than they would be on SV. On SV I could lay down traps at every spawn, with BM I needed to meter out my traps more carefully. Focus regen was also a problem, even with the BM abilities that give you focus gifts.  Poor Alas had her hands full, I’m afraid. We one-shot Beth anyway, but I felt pretty bad about the spiderlings.  Well, next time we’ll do better. Lesson learned.

Rhyolith was a different thing. I was also involved in add control there, but hit no hard failures. However, I think I would have been able to perform better in SV for the multi-target buffs I get. So we’ll give that a try next time.

Overall, however, I’m happy with BM.  I did as well or better on most fights that I did as MM. Which highlights that theory is a fine thing, but execution is equally important. Oh, I may not be able to execute BM as well as BRK, but I do a better job of it than I do at MM. Rather than blame gear or spec or talents, I’ll just go with what I’m better at.


  1. FOR ONCE. []
  2. Note: my first serious BM experience in Firelands was the weekend before, on the back half of the raid. Since I had never seen those fights before, I can’t draw much in the way of conclusions, other than HOW IS IT THAT I CANNOT AVOID THOSE WAVES. []

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Last couple of weeks there was a minor dust-up in-guild over performance in T12 raiding, and part of that bled out into the blogosphere. Zel had her say regarding two-healing at Murloc Parliment, and then Lono had his say over at Screaming Monkeys, and then things got interesting.

The thing that most people didn’t understand was that both are in the same guild, raid together, and generally spar with each other in a light-hearted way. There is mutual respect all around between them, as well as between them and fellow guildies and raiders. Oh, sometimes the humor’s dryer than even I am prepared to follow, but it’s humor nonetheless.

Unfortunately, someone walking in from the outside – say, linked from a widely-read omnibus WoW site – didn’t have this background on the two. And some of the reactions were unfortunate.

The biggest shock, however, were the comments from people that know better. Lono actually had to post something chiding readers about personal attacks, and Zel certainly backed him up on that. It’s not cool, and some of the not-so-cool ones really have outlived their welcome in my eyes. I don’t care how popular they are.

Here are the issues in a nutshell.

  1. On Baleroc, we’re having problems with the enrage timer. We are five-DPSing the event, three-healing, two-tanking. There is a dance, but once you get that down, it’s more or less a DPS race.
  2. The suggestion was made that we try two-healing it, because the one time we DID get him down, was when we two-healed.
  3. Team Heal, that heavily unionized group of healers in our guild, sees this as punishment for doing a good job.  Zel has voiced her objections in guild and I believe she speaks for her union the rest of the healers on this matter, so move along, we’re done here.
  4. Zel also blogged about it because, hey, it’s a good topic and she happened to need one.
  5. In return, Lono posted (IMO) a good-natured rebuttal.

Okay, first of all. Two-healing.

Jasra, Clan Grimmtooth’s resident healer, two-healed all of ICC that we ever saw, except that one fight where you heal the green dragon. So, drawing from her experience, we are no strangers to two-healing from an intimate perspective. And, frankly, it sucks. One healer goes down, you’re going to wipe. Or you’re going to have to carry out triage to determine who lives, who dies, when things get dicey. So from a healer’s perspective, three-healing seems to be a great idea. I prefer knowing the team has no worries about heals.

I’m not saying that Jasra would still be an active raider if we had three-healed, but she’d’ve been a lot further away from the breaking point.

While flexibility is a good thing, and dual specs give us that ability more than ever, I think two-healing this would make it a miserable experience for our healers. And surly healers give surly heals. Penance even has a sharper sting.

So I agree with Zel (sorry, Lono), two-healing to free up a slot for DPS is not a great idea, in this case.

Besides, it ignores the real problem

The real problem was already stated clearly. This is a DPS race. If your DPS isn’t falling over, and the boss enrages, then the DPS just isn’t bringing the pain in sufficient quantities.

Mostly, I’m the problem here.

First, as a hunter, I have range issues. We HAVE to group up tight to control where the crystals spawn, and then I need to scoot back to be able to fire. This eats a bit of time, but hardly enough to make that much of a distance. If I’m charitable it’s 1-2K DPS that it accounts for.

That leaves around 5-6K difference between my performance and where my performance needs to be. I’ve been fighting it for a few weeks, now, even being as desperate as to shift to MM. No matter what, though, I still come in a lot lower than I should.

It’s not gear, either. I first thought it might be, but I’m seeing MM hunters with lesser gear and similar talent specs pull at least 5K more than me on a routine basis.

I’m forced to face the probability that I’ve hit a wall here.  In T11, I was upper bracket DPS for our team, but in T12 I have been bottom of the stack routinely.

So my current task is to figure out what I’m doing wrong and remedy it, if possible (and if it involves a macro attached to the scroll wheel – sorry.).

Et Tu soon, Executus?

The other possibility is that we’re just ahead of the curve a little bit. Shannox and Beth were both difficult at first but as we’ve learned the tricks, we’ve more or less got them to one-or-two-shot status. Obviously, they’re not going to put a boss that so clearly outclasses the rest unless it’s a gating boss (which I believe he is). So maybe we just need to focus on the others for now, get them down, then come back.

This keeps occurring to me but it has the foul taste of excuse-making for myself. Raid leaders can read the strats same as I.

People are too nice

My guildies are a bunch of awesome people that are supportive and encouraging and, for the most part, fairly patient. But maybe there’s times when we have to say, "we can’t take you until you improve."   Certainly, I feel bad that we’re held back on this boss on the raw numbers. But numbers don’t lie. If boss has X health, and you have Y minutes, then you need to bring X/Y/60 DPS total, or X/Y/#DPSers/60 per DPS.  And we’re not there. To say otherwise emphasizes the fantasy element of this game a little too much.

While two-healing may make it easier on the DPS to get the boss down, bringing the *right* DPS is probably a better solution. Barring that, we go off and beat on something a little more beatable.

There are no pushbutton solutions

PvPer wisdom to the contrary, every raid encounter is different, even when it’s the same boss on two different nights.  My situation is a good example of that. I have what are considered all the recommended spec and equipment and gemming and enchanting and reforging steps covered, and yet I’m doing worse, relatively, than I was when I was an undergeared noob in T11 raiding.   I’m going to have to find my own way on this, make it work for me, and unfortunately it takes more time than a leetsauce contingent might like.

Well. Don’t have to invite me.  No reason we both can’t own our mistakes here.

Goddamn Batman The Goddamn (Nerf) Bat Man

In a way the upcoming nerfs make me sad.  I suppose I’m one of those wannabee leetists for wanting to overcome the content through hard work and patience, rather than the hammer (or nerf bat) of God.

On the other hand, Blizz has access to numbers that we don’t. If they say that they don’t feel that progression is where it should be, they may be doing so because that’s the truth. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m going to accuse anyone at Blizz of lying about it. They didn’t, after all, have to say anything other than "making some changes to tune some encounters to more appropriate difficulties".

I’m not going to lament the change. I’d’ve preferred a thing similar to the ICC buffs, so we could tell the crybabys to STFU and turn off the buff, but it is exactly what it is. Either adapt, or find a new hobby.

But, I know many in the guild will feel that the whole thing will be cheapened if we march in there and roflstomp the guy next week.

On the other hand, as Flora and Illume remind me, my old guild, the Vorpal Bunnies, just downed Mags for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and they were absolutely bursting with pride over that. This week, Flora went in with the group and they got Omnitron down to 23% on our second try ever. Even nerfed, satisfaction is there to be had, if you work for it and put in some honest effort. The Bunnies have a lot to be proud of – that was an amazing second try. My second attempt on Omni, we died on the third Tron.

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Here’s an update on the whole Beast Master experiment.

When last I talked about this, I had done all the theory stuff I was going to be able to do, and done as much as I could with target dummies to optimize my rotation and pet selection. This is all a part of my plan.

The Plan looks a lot like this.

  1. Set up talent spec
  2. Re-gem appropriately1
  3. Re-forge appropriately2
  4. Practice rotation on training dummies until stable.
  5. Test different pets for best damage / buff compromise
  6. Try BM in the wild.
  7. Try BM in a party
  8. Try BM in a raid.

So right now I’ve completed step 7, and am suitably impressed at the difference it makes.  This was a Troll Heroic, with guildies, but of course not raid buffed. The difference between Survival and BM using my current gear is on the order of 3-4K DPS. 

Step 8 – raiding – may add another 1-2K.

So, yeah. This is looking very good for single-target fights.

The next question will be, if it looks good in raids, what will it look like when I gem, gear3, and re-forge again to maximize my damage output?

And the final question will be, will my SV build be viable in that situation (aside from gear, which can be swapped out).

The final question is a big one. I want to be able to keep SV viable as an AoE spec for fights like Magmaw and Cho and whatever 4.2 brings with it. If I have to gimp it too badly to maximize BM, I have to decide if I should gimp BM just enough to make a difference for SV.

So, sometime after our next raid, I’ll have enough data to make a solid decision.  Until then, the plan is to keep practicing this spec daily until I am comfortable with all of my shots and cool-downs.

Further bulletins as events warrant.


  1. Actually, not doing that yet, just in case I need to revive Survival. []
  2. As best can be done around a SV gem constellation. []
  3. There ARE differences in gear between BM and SV. []

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