marksmanship

Patch 7.0.3 Impressions

Patch 7.0.3 Impressions

So the pre-patch, 7.0.3 is now live across all regions, and with it come all the changes being made in prep for Legion. So after a full day with the patch, what sort of things did it bring? What did you think about the changes?

Well, let’s break down what I thought into the stuff I loved, and the stuff I hated… Continue reading →

Posted by Sar in Beast Mastery, Gaming, Hunter Stuff, Legion News, Marksmanship, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
PTR Hunter Preview: The Beast Master

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.

Continue reading →

Posted by Sar in Beast Mastery, Hunter Stuff, World of Warcraft, 5 comments
The Power of Choice vs the Impact of Change

The Power of Choice vs the Impact of Change

Or…

If it ain’t broke, don’t try to “fix” it…


All classes in WoW have seen revamps at some point in the life of the game. Sure, some have been a bit more drastic than others, but it happens.

And usually only to a single spec of any class at a given time.

However something is changing about Blizzard’s philosophy regarding class and spec revamps, and it’s not necessarily a healthy change. Least of all for the players. Especially for those that play Hunters.

Once upon a time, Blizzard’s philosophy was that change should be incremental . Change over time, so that eventually the spec you played was perhaps made completely unrecognisable over the course of 2 or 3 expansions, yet was still familiar to regular players of the spec and class.

The reasoning behind this philosophy was that too many changes in too short of a timespan led to players being left feeling confused or burnt out and more likely to quit playing the class or the game as a whole through dissatisfaction.

This was a great approach, as it allowed Blizzard the opportunity to tweak specs, to tighten them up, and basically to tinker in order to ensure a spec was both competitive against other specs/classes but more importantly was also still fun to play.

What this approach allowed the players on the other hand, was the chance to retain a familiarity with a spec or a class. Even if Blizzard makes changes to a spec that means you don’t get the same enjoyment out of it anymore, there are 2 to 3 other specs to play that you will have at least a passing familiarity with and can maybe segue into.

There are 3 types of class in WoW:

  • Pure DPS classes, for example Hunters, Rogues, Mages, and Warlocks, each with their three DPS specs.
  • Semi-hybrid classes like Warriors (2 DPS/1 Tank), Priests (2 Heal/1 DPS), Shaman (2 DPS/1 Heal) and DKs (2 DPS/1 Tank).
  • Absolute Hybrid classes such as Paladins, Monks & Druids, where a change in spec equates to a change in role.

Obviously the further down that list you go, the greater the Impact of Change will be on players of those respective classes.

For example, for players of Pure DPS classes, changes to a spec will mean either gaining familiarity with the new changes, or at the very least a change in spec to another more familiar one. A change in spec for these players will not require a change in role. Pure Ranged DPS is Ranged and Rogues do it from behind regardless of spec.

On the other end of the spectrum, unsatisfying changes to a spec for Absolute Hybrid classes will mean either gaining familiarity with the new changes, or a change in role or class. The Impact of Change to players of these classes are the greatest.

Obviously the Impact of Change will occur with Semi-Hybrids to varying degrees, dependant on the chosen spec, where it can mean either a change in spec or a change in role.

Regardless of which of these three categories your chosen class falls into, the vast majority of players will have that passing familiarity I mentioned earlier with the other specs and/or roles within their chosen class.

In short, players of any given class will have some sort of refuge in one of their class’s other specs, even if it means a change in role.

However, Blizzard seem to have abandoned that philosophy when it comes to changes to the Hunter class in Legion.

No Safe Haven

Current players of the Hunter class, will in short, have no safe haven come Legion.

For Survival players, they will be seeing not only a complete change in role, switching from ranged to melee (itself not a wise change, as melee is already a crowded gamespace), but this will also see and mean a fundamental change in the abilities used by the spec. No more Black Arrow, Lock & Load etc, and hello again to the likes of Mongoose Bite and Wing Clip.


For MM players, they will see not only fundamental changes to the abilities used by the spec (no more signature Chimaera Shot for one), but they will also completely lose the ability to use a pet, one of the most fundamental and basic abilities of the Hunter class since Vanilla. MM will permanently lose part of the class aesthetic, fantasy and flavour that has been baked into the DNA of the class since its inception.


Beast Mastery players will see not only fundamental changes to their spec, how it plays and the abilities used, but they’ll see their own importance in gameplay de-emphasised in preference to becoming the logistical manager that I alluded to in a previous post.

They will lose the ability to generate their own focus, and to a large degree will also lose the ability to deal significant damage directly. BM players will be utterly reliant on their summoned beasts for both focus and the vast majority of their damage.


Of course both BM & MM will lose the ability to use any sort of trap, as they will become the exclusive territory of Survival players. Because of course melee players need to kite and CC mobs all the time…


A Lost Fantasy

Sarcasm aside, this loss of utility for BM and MM players, not only in the lack of traps for both, but the lack of pet for MM to boot is galling.

But more galling than that?

The entire fantasy of a lone Hunter with only their loyal, chosen Pet by their side,  doing damage from range while their pet goes into melee to protect their master?

Gone entirely.

  • Survival will be melee only, no longer a ranged role.
  • BM will sacrifice the lone, chosen pet playstyle for an endless crowd of random animals.
  • MM will lose the pet altogether.

Current players of the Hunter class will know no familiarity with the class that they used to know come Legion. There will be no familiar spec, no familiar role, no familiar playstyle.

Hell, no familiar class.

Change for the sake of it, especially overwhelming changes to an entire class like this is not healthy, and is certainly not conducive to player retention.

Hunters did not need this complete overhaul. Ok, the changes to Survival may see its use increase somewhat, at least initially. However BM and MM were both largely (80%) fine as they were.

So what should have happened?

If I was the Hunter class designer for Legion, these are the changes I would’ve made to BM and MM:

Marksmanship

Make the T18 4-Piece bonus baseline for the spec. Instant Aimed shots made the balance between pooling and spending focus an engaging mini-game, and enhanced the play-style of the spec immensely.


Balance Lone Wolf (with its array of buff choices) vs the other level 100 Talents a lot better. Make it actually viable to NOT take Lone Wolf for those that prefer a pet (like me). For those that enjoy the petless play-style? Carry on using it! Knock yourself out!

Make it an option to use a pet or not, but give players that choice.


Kill Shot. Keep it. And while you’re at it? Keep Traps too. CC in solo play is important too.


Three to four small changes. That’s it.

Honestly? It didn’t take or need that much effort or work.


Beast Mastery

Give players a talent to allow them to call a 2nd, permanent pet. Give them the ability to mix and match with this 2nd pet to give players a greater ability to create an identity and enhance spec fantasy.


Make the pet abilities at the player’s control, like Kill Command, Bestial Wrath, Focus Fire etc, all apply to the 2nd pet as well. No need for an uncontrollable throng of random animals that, let’s be honest, no-one really wants or cares for that I’ve heard so far.

I don’t think any current BM players have ever fantasised about being Ace Ventura, or Snow White…


Leave Stampede as-is. It’s fine Blizzard, seriously.

If you’re so concerned about crowding the melee space for a whopping 40 seconds every 5 minutes, then why the hell are you converting one ranged spec and forcing it into the melee area, while simultaneously introducing another entirely new melee class in Legion?

The new Stampede? Well heaven help you if the boss moves, given that it’s a 10 second AoE effect now (eurgh).


Have Growl make the enemy focus on whichever Pet has least threat, allowing for easier pet maintenance and healing.


Keep Spirit Bond. FFS.


Keep Camouflage. Jesus wept.


Kill Shot and Traps. Again.


And with that?

Both BM & MM players would retain familiarity with their chosen spec. No massive overhauls required, no changes in play-style necessary.

Evolution, not revolution.

Minimise or negate that Impact of Change.

Easy.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Hunter Stuff, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 3 comments
Legion Alpha: A Stampede of Hunter problems

Legion Alpha: A Stampede of Hunter problems

Now that BM is now live on the Alpha, we now have access to all 3 Hunter Specs, and it’s not all rosy…


So Alpha has returned and it’s brought with it a new build or two, and opened up more specs for testing.

This includes Beast Mastery for Hunters, which rounds out the entire class for testing.

From looking at the BM spec as-is on Alpha (remember I don’t have Alpha access, so this is all based on what I’m seeing on YouTube and reading from elsewhere), there are a still growing number of concerns that began with MM/Survival changes, and BM is only adding to that pile.

New Concerns

Dire Beast for example, is designed to be used on cooldown, and it now has a very short cooldown of 10 seconds. Add in the chance for Dire Beast to get reset with Wild Call and its use is going to get very spammy.

Similarly Bestial Wrath is going to see more frequent use, despite the fact its cooldown has been increased 50% to 90 seconds, beast summons will reduce that cooldown, and it will probably be up for longer than it’s on normal cooldown, given the frequency you’ll be using Dire Beast.

Stampede as it exists on live has been essentially removed, and replaced with an AoE with the same name and icon. Now when it’s used, you carpet an area in front of you with, well, a stampede of pets (not your own pets, these are randoms!), and this lasts for 10 seconds.

Think Barrage, but with animals rather than bullets, and in a box shaped AoE right in front of you, rather than a cone.

This of course means no more cool screenshots or showing off with your active pets anymore…

RIP Stampede

All these random pet cooldowns with BM lead me to think that Blizzard are trying to de-emphasize me as a player in direct control of the damage equation.

The whole direction BM appears to be headed in makes me think we’re going to be less of a hunter, and more of a logistical manager for random pets while playing whack-a-mole with our cooldowns on the side.

This is in direct contrast to MM, where you can’t use pets at all, and the damage you bring is based entirely on your use of your abilities.

Overall Hunter Issues

I have quite a lot of issues with the current Hunter class on Alpha, namely in the areas of removal of: Customisation, choice, survivability and utility.


Camouflage is now a talent, on the same row as Binding Shot. It is now a 1 min lasting effect, but now has a 3 minute cooldown. No more perma-stealth in PvP, waiting to ambush the enemy, or ghosting through old instances for very long.

Plus, if you’re BM? You get no choice of Camo AT ALL. You get Intimidation instead. WAT?

This one irks me quite a lot. I love the stealth aspect of playing a Hunter, particularly in PvP. And I love pets. Now? Now I don’t have the option of utilising both. It’s one or t’other.


Lack of a pet in MM. Hunters are the best and original pet class, hell they’re THE pet class in WoW, and all 3 specs should use them. If Focusing Shot had been higher DPS in HFC than Lone Wolf, would we even be having this consideration?

As a side note, this enforced lack of a pet for MM means we’re going to spend a lot of time either kiting without any major CC, or we’ll be spending a lot more time face-tanking mobs.

Eurgh.


De-emphasis of your chosen pet in the only remaining ranged spec in the class that uses them (BM).

Stampede ushers in a throng of random pets, and Dire Beast also uses random pets. Not random pets from your stables, no, just random pet models from the zone you’re in (DB) or from the game as a whole (Stampede).

If only MM would let you call a permanent pet, and use only one pet (no Dire Beast or Stampede), that would still provide contrast against BM, emphasise your choice of pet, and solve the above issue with no MM pets.

As it stands, BM is now all about summoning a multitude of random, temporary pets that you have no connection to, and your “life-bonded companion” just gets lost in an ever maddening crowd…


The forced use of an 9-10 year old model in Hati that you have very little control over or customisation of. Yes, I get it’s tied into Ulduar/Titanstrike, but really? Using such an old model for the latest and greatest weapon/expansion?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the saber worg model, but it’s going to do 2 things: a 2007 model will look out of place in 2016/2017, and look very generic with every BM hunter having the same pet.
Again, de-emphasising your choice of pets for random/forced options.

Admittedly it is still early in the alpha/beta process, so it’s possible that this may change, but given that they’ve already introduced different skins for this saber worg in the alpha, albeit not implemented yet, suggests, but doesn’t confirm, that Hati will have different colours dependant on your artifact look. So even less likely that the choice of model for Hati will change.


Spirit Bond has been removed. In fact there is very little in the way of maintenance healing in the Hunter class now, as all we’ve got is the Spirit Beast heal (obviously BM only) and a now baseline Exhilaration with a 50% heal.

Combine that with the lack of CC, and the lack of a pet to tank for you in MM and there’s going to be a lot more downtime for MM hunters while we passively heal up outside of Exhilaration.


Removal of Traps from all specs bar Survival. More CC gone. Oh goody.


Kill Shot has been removed. No more execute ability, and no more big hits in the last 20-30% of the boss’s health.


No more Lone Wolf choice of raid buffs. Lone Wolf may be baseline for MM, but we no longer get the option to provide any raid buffs, AT ALL as MM.

Or BM or Survival for that matter.

In fact looking at WoWHead, Hunters will no longer bring any raid buffs to the table at all.

Unless Critical Strikes, a 10% crit buff you get from level 1, applies to the raid as well as yourself, IE: an aura. But it’s passive, so not manually applicable to a player, therefore giving potential issues where one section of the raid is phased (Nether Banish, Archimonde), and lose the buff?


Aspect of the Cheetah is now a 3 minute cooldown that lasts for a whopping 3 seconds at +90% speed and another 30% for 9 seconds. No more perma-speed boost outside of combat.

/slow clap

More utility (and fun!) gone.

At least we still have Posthaste.

For now.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimaera is gone.


Deterrence is gone, and replaced by a 3 minute cooldown called Aspect of the Turtle. Admittedly it has a pretty cool shell shield style graphical effect, but it’s a one shot deal, no more second charge. More survivability gone.

Combine that with a lack of CC, no maintenance heal, and the inability to use a tanking pet for MM?

Yeah, you can see where I’m going with this…

DOWNTIME. GET USED TO IT.


The removal and outright rug-pulling changes to the class, this late into the game’s life cycle is not what I would consider a sensible move. Look what happened with Star Wars Galaxies when they did something similar with the NGE. Players exited the game in droves and the game nearly collapsed as a result. Arguably it never really recovered.

We lost a metric fuckton of players during WoD’s first 9 months, we can’t really afford to lose a lot more. Especially from the most popular class in the game.

The entire class seems to be changing outright, and a lot of what brought me to the class is being dispensed with between expansions.

Prefer playing as Ranged DPS? There goes 1 spec. Cya Survival!

Pet collector? There goes another spec. Buh-bye Marksmanship!

Hope you like whack-a-mole with a crowd of mainly random, no-choice selection of “animals”.

I can’t even bring myself to call them pets. The term “Pet” implies a choice, a bond, a story, a history.

Not BM. Not anymore.

Now? Your choice of pet now merely makes a guest appearance on a crowded stage filled with randomers.

In fact it’s less like logistical manager, more like a raid leader for a group of mindless, minimum-effort randoms in LFR.

Oh, and you also have to put up with no chance to use camouflage.

Yippee.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Hunter Stuff, Legion News, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 2 comments