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At the start it didn’t look so bad but a disastrously high fall from DPS grace in a couple of heroics had me thinking, hmmm, maybe I’ll try this Survival spec gubbins and see what all the fuss is about.

Yeah, I tried it. 50g spent on a respec and, some Training Dummy time later, another 50g spent to spec the hell right back to Beast Mastery again. What went wrong?

One. Using Immolation Trap to proc Lock and Load is all well and good, and fine for some people, but I wasn’t going for it. Throw Sniper Training in as well with it’s snazzy damage rewards for greater distance and suddenly I’m running for miles! When Anj first picked up a bow with a view to learning how to use it, she pretty much signed a waiver saying that pointless running back and forth wasn’t for her.

Two. Well, *splutter*, it’s Beast Mastery! Obviously different people have different play-styles and it’s great that we’re all catered for but, personally, I quite like the synergy betwixt hunter and pet, up to the point where I even feel uncomfortable with the word “Mastery”. We’re a team, me and kitty, we love each other and couldn’t live without each other. Sure, occasionally I’ll roll with my gorilla for questing, but that’s only because I’m giving kitty a well-earned break because she works very hard! Survival? Pet might as well not be there. Am I getting too emotionally invested in something to think that switching from my “Me And My Buddy” spec is in some way betraying KittenHeels? Hmm, maybe. But ah dun care!

So I’m sticking with Beast Mastery. On the training dummies with SV I was (it seems like a heavy-handed word to be using but I’m going to use it because it’s true) effortlessly doing more DPS than I was with BM. Well, it had to be effortless, it was a whole new way of playing and I had no idea what I was doing for the most part but there was still the same number of buttons to press, it’s not like I went from hotkeys to a command line system. Effortless. That’s including even missing out the DPS time spent on running to melee range to drop a trap and then Disengaging back, moving a bit more back to get to the optimum range and then going back to the weaving.

So I find myself torn between two thoughts, either the mass exodus from Beast Mastery to Survival cookie-cutter specs is something akin to a person shifting support to a different football team when their own starts losing a few games (which is a totally bad analogy for me because I don’t even like sport) or…

(whispering) Well, you know, is it a big unspoken protest, given Ghostcrawler’s comments about fixing BM if everyone shifts to Survival? (/whispering) OMG, am I being a scab?! Let’s face it, the DPS classes want to do as much damage as possible because, well, it’s their job but the blogs and forums I’ve read show that Beast Mastery wing of The Hunter Academy is emptying out, with the last person to leave being instructed to simply toss a ball of tumbleweed into the hall before they switch out the lights.

Either way, I’m not going to spend my time gathering a bunch of new gear for a different spec only to have to throw it out again when Teh Blizz see the error of their ways. I, and I expect many others, don’t want to be the automatic top of the damage meters, we just want to be invited to raids or heroics and have a chance at barely competing and maybe even be spared from the gallery of morons who hear the word “nerf” and their ears start bleeding.

Blizzard haven’t solved the problem of one spec being more popular than the others, they’ve just moved it somewhere else. Perhaps the only way they’re going to even begin to sort it out is by, more or less, equalising the damage output of each talent tree but maintaining the diversity of ways in which it is achieved, obviously with differing results to widen the gap depending on the effort that goes in. Insight or naivety? You decide! ;)

Choice. It’s not much to ask!

(picture by Reverse_Thinking and shared under a Creative Commons License).

We-e-e-ell, there it goes, server shutdown to apply Patch 3.0.8. In the morning, Anj will emerge from the inn, start the day off with a hot morning ale and a little target practice only to find, when she pulls back her bow-string for the first of many times that day, a sharp pain in her right shoulder. “Ow!”. Better rub some liniment on that.

I’m pleased because Elixir of Water Walking is going to become discoverable through the Northrend Alchemy Research which is going to save a lot of time returning to Terokkar Forest for the fishing dailies to keep supplies stocked up. Yays!

Glyph of Serpent Sting is listed in the undocumented changes as having it’s effect increased from three to six seconds, looking like some heady competition for GoArcane Shot there given that my experience with the regular-length Serpent Sting seems to fall short of lasting the full duration of a heroic mob’s rapidly diminishing life. Rather than reapply it for what might only amount to one tick, a simple Kill Shot before moving on to prep the next mob with a Hunter’s Mark, pet attack and fresh Sting gets around that problem well enough. An Arcane glyph awaits in the bank ready for testing.

So. A very happy Nerfday to all hunters, and a heartfelt apology to all other classes* sniggering behind your hands like you think we can’t see you, you’re still not as good. I know. I know. Sorry. You can still loudly accuse any that you meet as being overpowered and no-one can ever take that away from you, just try to misspell every single word while you’re doing it to really lend weight to your argument. /pat.


*edit, 23/01/09: With respect to Winters, this excludes druids. They still rock. All of them.

Currently, with only three slots for Major Glyphs, the essentials to get your average PvE Beast Mastery hunter by in the world come down to:

Glyph of Steady Shot

Glyph of Bestial Wrath

Extra damage from Steady Shots while a Serpent Sting is active and a Bestial Wrath with a cooldown of about seventy seconds when combined with three points in Longevity is a delicious meal you don’t even need to drizzle sauce over. Nom nom nom, yummers, heart glyphs, etc.

However, like any indie band’s “The Difficult Third Album”, this leaves an uneasy choice for that final slot. Glyph of Serpent Sting gives an extra three seconds of the DoT allowing for one extra tick and probably another two Steady Shots before it needs re-applying.

Glyph of Aspect of the Viper, which I am currently using, increases the Aspect’s mana regeneration by 10% which is working quite well, the less time spent in Viper the better, right? That said, an extended Serpent Sting would be good too. Arg! See? Tricky choices.

However, within the grim walls of the forthcoming nerf is this:

And all I can think is, hey, what about Glyph of Arcane Shot?

Since it looks like Arcane Shot is going to be worth taking the time to include into the warp and weft of your shotcloth, a refund of 20% of the mana cost while a sting is active has gots to be good news. I mean, chances are there’s going to be a fair amount of Serpent poison in the mob’s bloodstream anyway and the chance to be kept alert with a slightly more complicated rotation is good news for anyone who, like me, gets bored with mainly using just the one button but loves the BM spec too much to go for Marksmanship.

The question is, would the total mana savings from this glyph outweigh the extra mana-gain from GoAotV over the course of a full mana bar? Arcane Shot is by no means cheap to cast, even semi-regular use is guaranteed to get you OOM a hell of a lot quicker without it.

Hmmm. This needs tests! Science again! I said science again!

It is, of course, naive to base the output of damage purely on the number of epics a player has, suffice to say that the other two DPS members of this party to heroic Halls of Lightning had about 75% of slots filled with epics compared to Anj’s single Pendant of the Outcast Hero and crafted stroke quest blues, hit cap and delicious Beat Mastery. So, you know, if you wanted to make that argument Epixxxor Obsessives, there’s the details.


That’s just an insane gap, and I wasn’t even playing super-perfectly myself because, hey, I never do! A few Serpent Stings and Kill Shots were missed and the usual, albeit very occasional but nontheless embarrassing “Oh hells, I’m still using Viper!” moments. The warrior gained a fair second place from the number of wipes we endured during Loken where he was the last one standing, in fact for the bosses eventual fall, it was just tank and healer for the last twenty-or-so percent.

A conversation before Lich King arrived with a roguey friend revealed that I hoped the damage meters would become a little less predictable with the host of new talents coming up and maybe after the nerf that will be the case. Have I said that before? It feels like I’ve said that before. And that. Oh dear, I’m getting stuck in a loop…

The point is, no I’m not perfect and I will forever be far from it, but I still put work into the damage I do, blood, sweat and tears, y’alls, and to be honest I’m more than a little tired of that work being brushed off as “Bah, hunters are OP!”.

I remain without fear of The Nerf Stick and may be tempted to add, “Bring it on”.


ps. Been testing out 2/2 Invigoration and, although I have no detailed breakdown of the figures, it feels like it shows a greater ability to stave off needing to switch to Viper than 5/5 Efficiency did. Vaguely-scientific tests continue…
July 2018
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