PTR Hunter Preview: The Beast Master

So the PTR now features the Legion pre-expansion patch, which brings with it all the new systems and class changes ahead of the expansion’s launch itself.

So given how badly I’ve wanted to get onto the Legion Beta, I was very eager to get on the PTR and test out the changes to Hunters, especially given that this expansion sees Hunters receiving more wholesale changes than any other class has ever received in the game.

So for this first post I’m going to take a look at my old favourite, the BM Hunter.

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For me, BM was always the Hunter spec I loved more than any other. Only during HFC did MM and its T18 4p bonus play-style supersede it in enjoyment. But the downside of this was of course that I had to play without a pet, which for me was a massive sacrifice.

However in Legion BM goes in completely the opposite direction to MM during HFC, and features pets galore!

Now bear in mind that the BM artifact, Titanstrike, brings with it another pet, Hati, to manage, which isn’t active on the PTR at this moment in time as this is just the pre-patch.

During my short testing period on the PTR yesterday evening and furthermore this morning, I’ve found BM to be the more enjoyable of the 3 new Hunter specs. Survival is no longer ranged, and MM has issues atm on the PTR, including missing rotational abilities (Arcane Shot & Multi-shot are missing for MM on PTR atm).

BM from live has changed considerably. BM as a spec no longer has any direct focus-generating abilities. All of your focus is now generated by the number of Dire Beast/Frenzy procs and uses you can squeeze in during an encounter.

In effect during testing I found very little to be worried about with regards focus levels. If anything I found it very hard to run completely dry, and when I did it was only for a short time.

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Rotation

The rotation as it stands boils down to:

Bestial Wrath on CD

Kill Command on CD

Dire Beast/Frenzy on CD. Each use of Dire Beast (or Frenzy if you’ve taken the talent) reduces the cooldown on BW by 15 seconds.

Cobra Shot (now an instant cast) as filler to dump excess focus.

Very simplified, and amounts to basically whack-a-mole with whatever’s off cooldown in roughly the above priority order.

You do have another new cooldown, Aspect of the Wild. It’s on a 2min cooldown and it “Grants you and your pet 10 Focus per 1 sec and 10% increased critical strike chance on all attacks for 10 sec“.

Fans of complexity needn’t worry too much though, as additional abilities, albeit not many, come from your talents…

And don’t worry, situational abilities like Misdirection, Concussive Shot, Counter Shot etc are all still present and correct.


Talents

This was my initial talent loadout:

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Level 15 Talents:

Big Game Hunter: Increases Auto & Cobra Shot crit chance by 50% when the target is above 80%.

Way of the Cobra: Increases the damage of Cobra Shot by 10% for every pet you have out.

Dire Stable: Dire Beast generates an additional 8 focus over its duration.

An entirely passive tier this one, and the talent I’ll probably recommend is WotC, unless you find yourself running dry too often for your liking (or are using Dire Frenzy, see below), in which case go for Dire Stable. Big Game Hunter will only really be useful on fights with lots of adds that you can switch to throughout the encounter.

 

Level 30 Talents:

Stomp: Dire Beasts use the Stomp ability when summoned, dealing AoE damage.

Dire Frenzy: Forfeit summoning random Dire Beasts for extra damage & haste for your main pet.

Chimaera Shot: Same as it ever was – dual headed frost/nature damage shot. Although it now generates 10 extra focus for each target it hits.

In this row it’s either going to be Dire Frenzy in order to reduce the pet spam of Dire Beast or Chimaera Shot out of pure nostalgia (and additional focus if you need it). Obviously if you’re taking Dire Frenzy, ensure you haven’t chosen Way of the Cobra in the level 15 talent row…

 

Level 45 Talents:

Posthaste: Same as live, a 60% speed boost for 8 seconds whenever you use Disengage.

Farstrider: Ability crits have a 10% chance to reset the cooldown on Disengage.

Dash: Increases the duration of Aspect of the Cheetah by 3 seconds.

I’ll be going the same route here as I currently do on live: Posthaste. The other 2 choices are very underwhelming, especially Dash. The changes to Aspect of the Cheetah are a real disappointment, and Dash does nothing to ameliorate that feeling.

 

Level 60 Talents:

One with the Pack: Increases the chance for our new level 22 passive Wild Call to reset the cooldown of Dire Beast/Frenzy by an additional 10%

Bestial Fury: Increases the damage bonus of Bestial Wrath by an additional 20%

Blink Strikes: Same as live – your pet’s basic attacks deal +50% extra damage, can be used from 30yds away, and your pet teleports to the target (20 sec ICD)

Another entirely passive tier this one, but my choice here will probably be One with the Pack for the additional Dire’s.

 

Level 75 Talents:

All these abilities are the same as they are currently on live servers.

Binding Shot: Tethers & stuns enemies within 10 yards.

Wyvern Sting: Puts the target to sleep for 30 secs.

Intimidation: Pet taunt/stun.

Again going the same as I use on live for this, and going for BS. Gives the most utility out of all 3 options.

 

Level 90 Talents:

A Murder of Crows: Same as live, crows attack your target doing essentially DoT damage over 15 secs. Resets if the target dies during its duration.

Barrage: Same as live, a frontal cone AoE attack that pulls everything in sight.

Volley: Changed from earlier iterations. Not now a targeted AoE, it’s a toggle similar to Trap Launcher. It now generates a volley of arrows at your target whenever you auto-attack. Costs 3 focus per auto-shot.

Really depends tbh. Single Target encounter? AMoC. AoE fight? Choose between Barrage & Volley. Volley has the advantage of being decidedly less likely to pull mobs from the next server over.

 

Level 100 Talents:

Stampede: Mechanically different from live. Sadly now it generates a 12 second flurry of random beasts in a box shaped area around you.

Killer Cobra: During Bestial Wrath, Cobra Shot has a 25% chance to reset Kill Command

Aspect of the Beast: Differing abilities dependent on the type of pet you have active:

  • Ferocity: Extra Bleed damage (90% of attack power) over 6 seconds.
  • Tenacity: 10% reduction to damage taken by your pet.
  • Cunning: Slows the target’s movement speed by 50% for 4 secs.

For me this will probably be either Stampede or Aspect. Stampede’s change is another gutting one IMO. I loved the version of Stampede we currently have on live, especially as it was great for those of us who loved to show our pets off, and for taking great screenshots:

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RIP Stampede, RIP.


Glyphs

Glyphs are gone as we currently know them on live. They are all purely a one-time use deal, and graphically or otherwise cosmetically enhance spells in your spellbook.

So nothing to really note here, as none of them will massively impact on how you play any of the Hunter specs.


I will very likely be going Beast Master when the patch hits, as MM has serious issues IMO right now, which I’ll delve into more in the next article.

Suffice it to say for me BM is the most fun of the 3 new Hunter specs on the PTR right now.

And I was, and rightly so. All 3 specs have utterly changed from what they are currently on live servers, and I feel sorry for current Hunter players who don’t keep up to date with Alpha/Beta/PTR changes and patch notes, because come launch day for this patch?

Christ they are going to be so fucking confused and frustrated. I know I was frustrated at the sheer volume of changes after looking at all 3 specs, and some of the frankly poor design decisions Blizzard have ended up at, especially for MM, and I’m someone who has been keeping up with all the news on changes!

BM is in an acceptable state for me, after playing around with it a bit more. Survival is very different to how it is on live, and is Survival in name only. Completely different playstyle, feel and rotation. And that’s why it’s going to be my next focus.

Then there’s the shit-show that is Legion Marksmanship Hunters…

Fuck.

Me.

I honestly don’t know how they’ve managed to fuck it up this badly. I honestly don’t. But it feels like you’ve woken up this morning to find your right knee is now facing backwards and you have to learn how to walk again. It just feels broken and disjointed. It doesn’t flow anywhere within a light year of how smoothly it does right now on live.

Honestly it’s a terrible, rage inducing mess, and feels really bad to play on the PTR.

Not least for the fact that it’s presently missing its main focus generators: Arcane Shot & Multi-shot. They’re not even in the spell-book. Maybe it needs the artifact to smoothe out the kinks, but that better be one hell of an artifact tree…

Maybe a bit more practice on PTR once they’re working will yield better results, but honestly right now I’d rather they take the entire MM spec out of the game. It’s just that bad IMO. It’s like they’re deliberately trying to force at least a chunk of the multitude of Hunters across the world to change classes.

Think I’m paranoid? Blizzard have outright admitted they do this when a certain spec becomes too popular, in order to drive players of the spec in question to one of the other specs for that class, or indeed another class entirely. They deliberately wreck a too-popular spec in order to reduce how many people play it. Look at Destro Warlocks between Mists and WoD as proof. It’s that change that Blizzard admitted to last year.

IMO there was nothing wrong with MM as it played on Live. Nothing. It was pretty much perfect in terms of flow, mechanics, aesthetic and fantasy, bar the fact of needing to go 100% petless. To change it this much, and screw it up so badly? I really hope there’s changes still afoot between now and August 30th, but otherwise I think we’ll see MM numbers drop just as badly as subs numbers did over the course of Warlords…

Consider me the 1st one out of the MM door back to BM…

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That’s why I’m leaving MM to the last of these initial 3 Hunter articles, to give Blizzard a bit more time to get everything working, as it is still only 24 hours since PTR went live…

5 thoughts on “PTR Hunter Preview: The Beast Master

  1. Nice posting. I hate starting a new expansion with frustration and non-confidence. Even walking around makes me hesitate as if everyone else knows that I made the wrong choice and that I’ll have to defend a choice that sucks.
    The lure of Marskmanship was that goofy speed boost built into the Artifact, I felt that it would be honestly great for dungeons, raids and PvP.

  2. Yeah, actually picked up on that tonight doing testing, and funnily enough just tweeted about it 😛

    Terrible default tooltip on the ability if you have it selected, which makes no mention that it replaces both >< Like I said on Twitter, with AS/MS rather than Sidewinders, it plays a bit more coherently, but it still has massive issues, and still feels really "off" and like it's still in Alpha. Hard to explain, but it just still feels like the first iteration of a redesign with no polish or tweaking, which is worrying, as we're all about damage tuning and bug elimination atm on the PTR

  3. So we can expect to see 95% of Hunters playing BM, 3% playing SV, 1% playing MM and the rest of ud die hard hunters finding a new game to play?

  4. Dunno Bernie, I think Survival might be decently popular, especially by other melee players looking to switch class and give Hunters a go.

    The other 2 depend fully on DPS tuning I suppose 🙂

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