Welcome to another week of Scattered Shots, WoW Insider's column for Hunter miscellany and mischief.
So with Wrath of the Lich King coming closer and closer, classes are probably getting more or less close to what they'll look like when it ships. Maybe.
As for Hunters, We have our problems, be they a 41 point talent that won't be done in time for Wrath, an Aspect of the Viper identity crisis, or a new skill suddenly removed. But honestly, with the removal of shot clipping, the new Disengage and the new Pet talent system, I'm actually cautiously optimistic about our place in Wrath. We may need another patch or two before we're really settled, but we're getting some very basic class changes in Wrath that have been long overdue, and I'm hopeful that the class will end up solid by the time people are picking out their Arthas-killing teams and/or Season 6 Arena teams.
But that aside, permit me this week to opine upon some of the stuff we really did miss out on. Why did Blizzard take it back? Did we need it? Should we get it back again?
This is something I've actually mentioned before, but the list probably wouldn't be complete without it. So the first time we lost Bear Trap, we didn't lose Bear Trap as much as get it merged with Freezing Trap. Overall, that was a good thing. It was one less space on the hot bars, and it gave Freezing Arrow some much needed extra utility, allowing the crowd control to be a bit more forgiving. Any Hunter who's had a Warlock land a stray Corruption on a Frozen target can tell you how much the Bear Trap mechanic was needed.
Unfortunately, it was taken out again a few patches ago, with Ghostcrawler citing the need for them to prevent pets from attacking the Freezing Pet. Like I said last week, that feels like cutting off your hand to fix a sore pinky finger. We'll get it back, sure, but how long will take? We're already going to be waiting for our 41-point Survival skill until after Wrath. It's all well and good to say, "Oh, you'll get these abilities in a future patch," but we want to be able to hold our own in a Naxxramas group now.
Then again, in the case of Freezing Trap, we can make do without the Bear Trap mechanic, as long as everyone's still mindful of the trap, especially now that +hit applies to both physical and spell hit, ending the "Do traps resist like spells or miss like physical hits" debate forever. We did it for years before now anyway.
To say that we had this one taken away is probably a bit of a misnomer, since we never had it. It was found via datamining a few Beta builds ago, and there was a minor buzz among the Beta Hunter community that we might finally be getting something really useful for PvP, a shot that not would slow would-be pillar dancers to a crawl, but then buff our shots to make sure we did some real damage before they broke free and tried to flee.
Here's the secret on that, though: Technically, it's been around for a while. It was originally tested in the original Beta, but never saw the light of day. It was probably an offshoot of the WC3 Dark Ranger's Black Arrow, which did massive damage and had a chance to turn the target into the ranger's undead minion. So given that, I suppose you can't blame Blizzard for taking it from us right now, especially since it never even saw testing on this phase of the Beta.
Of course, regardless, it would have been a nice little skill to have. I still don't think we quite have the good solid ability we need to help combat pillar dancers in PvP. That said, I can't help but think that what we could use more than something like Black Arrow is another simple mechanics change: Just allow us to Auto-Shot while running. This would at least allow us to keep harassing a moving target like a pillar dancer even as we have to run to keep up with them. Since we can't shoot and keep up with them, and don't have a reliable long term method of slowing them down and thus keeping them from ducking for cover (which Black Arrow would provide), we still have to deal with pillar dancing.
This one's been covered a bit by David Bowers, but the questions are pertinent. This is another yo-yo "gift" for Hunters that keeps being given and taken away, over and over again, although this time, it looks like it's probably gone for good. We can't have a Rogue ability, but Rogues? Yeah, they can have Misdirect.
But the big question: Would Camouflage have helped us? Maybe so. The trap laying is what would have been really nice, allowing us a good chance to catch an arena opponent by surprise without having to mask our movements or blow Scatter Shot or Intimidation just to get them to trigger a trap.
That said, there's other ways to help us in Arenas. Camouflage would have been most useful in Battlegrounds, where we hardly need it. We're already well enough off in Battlegrounds, where we can defend an area and make attackers enter our traps, or hide behind a large mob of melee and take potshots. Now, I'm not saying I would have complained if we got Camouflage. It really would have been great. But I think we'll survive without it, assuming we get some other decent needed buffs.
Ok, technically this one was never promised to us, but I feel like it's one of my personal crusades now. I've long thought that pets are just too much a part of our class and abilities, especially with Master's Call, for them to be as squishy as they are. Without resilience, they really are sitting ducks in Arenas, and as long as they are, there's going to be a point in Arena play where they're too easily killable, and we use too much of our utility and extra damage in a way that is incredibly hard to get back. Even talented, resurrecting a pet is hardly as easily as dispelling a debuff.
But it really does seem like Resilience is off the table, according to the Devs. Still, not all hope is lost. Tenacity pets (the ever popular Scorpid and the AC-reducing Worm belong to this family) have a talent called Grace of the Mantis, which in the most recent builds, offers a 4% chance to avoid critical hits for 2 points. As long as that stays in, we will at least have resilience to a point. Whether it will be enough, I'm not sure. Arena gear is only going to get more and more powerful, and as it does, that 4% will look mighty dinky.
One thing that is worth mentioning though, is that Ghostcrawler has been heard to say that pet survivability needs more testing. And while I can't find it now, I swear I saw a post a few days ago where either she or Koraa wonders if they should try a system where pets do much less DPS, but are very durable. I have to admit, the idea intrigues me as well. As long as I get a decent buff to my personal DPS, and my pet can still keep aggro in PvE soloing and small grouping, I'd be willing to give it a try too. When a pet makes up so much of your own personal utility via their family ability, Master's Call, and talents like Intimidation and The Beast Within, it's really a pain when he dies, and pets still die far too easily in PvP.
I'll be frank. I'm not nearly as excited about Hunters as I once was in Beta. Blizzard giveth and Blizzard taketh away, I know, but it's sometimes a bit bemusing when you watch so much stuff being taken away from Hunters, even as you know intellectually that Beta is a time for testing stuff, and not all tests work out. We never had most of it in the first place on live servers, so technically, we haven't lost much.
If nothing else, when Wrath comes out, we'll have no more shot clipping and a bunch of shiny new pet abilities, so that's awesome. I can't overstate how awesome they are, I'm serious. Still, when we'll also be without at least one 41 point talent and with a whole gamut of new class skills either taken away completely or removed pending bug fixes, will we be seriously considered for Naxxramas groups and season 5 Arena teams?
That remains to be seen.