With the pre-tuning issues Hunters have at the moment with rotations over both specs, I’ve been thinking about a Plan B that would serve as a backup plan should Hunters not get smoothed out…
As with the lead in to any new expansion, especially prior to tuning passes happening, everyone, me included, are still in the throes of agonising over a choice for main spec, nay class, to play in the new content.
Over the years 3 classes have stood out over the others for me in terms of:
Those classes are of course:
- Hunter (obviously)
- Warlock (always my 2nd choice DPS class)
- Paladin (should I want to tank)
Other classes, such as Shaman, Rogue, Warrior, Mage etc, will tend to get levelled during an expansion, but none of them get any serious gameplay time. Warriors tend to get most out of the remaining classes (hell I have 2 x 120 Warriors!) along with some Druid game-time, but that tends to be it.
The Void beckons…
So, if the issues with Hunters don’t get ironed out, it looks like I’ll probably have to go with Warlock, likely Affliction for the most part, just because of it’s strength so far in raid testing, and how well it can handle all of the different damage profiles across the ten bosses in Castle Nathria. From split cleave, to multi-dotting, to straight forward single target sustained damage, Affliction is once again, as in Legion, looking to be incredibly strong.
A highlight for me is that the Drain Soul style of play looks like it’ll be the preferred play-style again, which I loved in Legion with the artifact weapon, Ulthalesh. Especially when paired with the Necrolord ability, Decimating Bolt, which makes Drain Soul tick for 300% damage for its next 3 applications without any time limit. Factor in that Drain Soul also gets execute bonus damage on top of covenant abilities which increase your baseline Drain damage and you can see why it’s so strong in Single Target raid encounters.
It also looks like one of Afflictions BFA weaknesses has been strongly addressed in Shadowlands: AoE on short-lived adds, which makes the spec finally viable in Mythic+.
Get dots up on your targets via Seed of Corruption (while using Absolute Corruption), cast Vile taint and spam Malefic Rapture means Affliction finally has burst damage on packs of mobs, which is something it sorely lacked in BfA (and Legion too tbh).
The Sacrolash legendary, which slowed adds with Corruption on them is also back, meaning utility on Necrotic weeks will be high once again, especially when paired with Absolute Corruption.
One big benefit of Warlock over Hunter is that Warlocks get a 3 minute cooldown to get around the ridiculous 6 second summon time that Warlocks have baseline for their pets (this was reduced to 4 seconds for Hunters btw, which is still dire) and summons your pet in with a cast time of about .5 seconds. So not instant cast, but pretty close to it. Useful if your pet gets stuck, or twatted by the Boss or adds in a raid and you have to re-summon quickly. This was a sticking point for me in Nyalotha in the Mythic Carapace fight, as highlighted in the previous post.
It would also mean of course that I wouldn’t have to race change my Gnome Hunter. I want to play as a Void Elf this expansion given the customisation improvements, and I wanted to try to keep my Hunter a Gnome if possible. Having her as a main alt would satisfy that particular itch to play a Gnome while enjoying the new improvements to Void Elves aesthetics. The fact that alt maintenance in Shadowlands is a damned sight easier than it has been for several expansions, including levelling, means that I’ll not be missing out on much by maining Warlock while retaining my Hunter as a prime alt with all of the goodies that are coming the way of the Hunter class in Shadowlands.
Yes I know what you’re thinking, that I’d tried Warlock a couple of times during BfA to no great success, but Warlock for me in BfA felt odd, off somehow. I’ve been playing about with it on PTR over the past week or so (#noBetaClub) in order to get a feel for it, and it feels good. With her gear on live she can only pull about 50% of my Hunter’s DPS, and that bears out both on Live and on PTR. In fact I’m getting more on Live atm now with Affliction than I sim for, so that’s re-assuring 🙂
So for the next couple of weeks prior to pre-patch (looking like Sep 29th/30th btw) I’ll be doing a bit more play on the Warlock both on Live and PTR, in order to get back into the Lock mindset. I’ve loved maining a Hunter this expansion, as it’s been a lot of fun to be able to enjoy BM once again being a decently strong spec for the most part of the expansion, but there’s a bit of work to be done to it for Shadowlands in order to shore it up following the removal of Azerite gear, and to a lesser degree, Corruptions.
So to wrap up for now, I’m about 60/40 on class choice for Shadowlands, with Warlock slightly in the lead. Tuning changes have yet to happen, so that may yet change (again), but I’d hope that Hunters get ironed out. However maining Warlock would be a nice change, especially as I’ve collected the majority of the transmogs I want on my Hunter already 😛