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Scattered Shots: Pet scaling and new secrets about stuff on the ground

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week, Frostheim uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Got hunter questions? Feel free to email Frostheim.

Another week, another beta build -- and a heck of a lot more testing. Since the beta process is getting further along these days, I figured it was time to sit down and start hashing out our final level 85 stat conversions and learn how our pet scaling actually works. While on the surface this sounds like a lot of work, the lack of tooltips (and the prevalence of bugged tooltips) made it a heck of a lot of work.

In addition to messing with pet scaling, I've also been hitting up a lot of Tol Barad PvP and recently spent a bunch of time in the Vortex Pinnacle dungeon. It was in Vortex Pinnacle (following the rumor that a gun actually dropped somewhere in Cataclysm) that I made a shocking discovery that will change the way we think of floors forever.

So join me after the cut for a look at some of beta changes, hunter pet scaling and the horrible secret of Cataclysm's floors.

Olim Burningbeard LIES!
Frostheim: Heya Olim, whatcha got for me?

Olim: Oh ho! You'll like this one. We've refined the Hunting Party skill. Used to be we could teach ya to increase yer agility by 20 percent with it, you know ...

Frostheim: Shut yer mouth Olim, that's a pack o' lies and you know it! It only increased agility by a bum 2 percent.

Olim: Well, that may be, that may be. Not for me to say, you know. Maybe you're right and maybe you're not, but now we got the skill refined. Increases your agility by 10 percent, guaranteed.

Frostheim: Huh. Well that's a lot better than 2 percent, but not as good as the 20 percent you promised.

Olim: You want me to teach it to ya?

Frostheim: Sure, let's do it.

...

Olim: ... and that's all there is to it!

Frostheim: Huh. Let's see here ... Damn you, Olim, you son of an elf whore! This is still only boostin' me agility by 2 percent! You lied again!

Olim: Well, we like to tell people it's 10 percent. No harm ever came of a little rounding up.

Frostheim: Whatever. I gotta go check something on me pets, ya great lying oaf. I need to forget everything I ever knew about these talents.

Olim: Fair enough. Just look into the red light here ...
Pet scaling

Having had enough of Olim and his pack of overpriced lies, I headed over to the training dummies. I still marvel from time to time that the Ironforge target dummies aren't busier than they are. Thus far no other city has managed to equal the simple elegance and sophistication of the IF target dummies.

I spent the next several hours at the target dummies putting some gear on and taking it back off, naked more often than not, which is usually the case when you're doing science. There were some discrepancies in the tooltips, but the pet tooltips looked to be more or less correct (the hunter tooltips, not so). Various bugs were reported.

Critical strikes were a thorny subject, since the pet tooltip does not show crit, hit or base stats. And unlike hit, crit is trickier to test for. So I came back the next day to sort it out. Since the crits either happened or they didn't, I could use a simple binomial proportional distribution to calculate the margin of error. For the crit range I was looking at, I needed about 2,000 shots fired to get my margin of error close to 1 percent (bit more over, bit less under) with an 80 percent confidence. Since I needed several rounds of tests at different crit levels to observe the scaling, there's another four hours or so at the dummies. Happily, these could mostly be spent AFK.

I broke my gun several times in the course of testing. I am so happy we no longer have ammo.

I noticed a couple of interesting things aside from the base scaling. Pets seem to have a base 0 percent crit chance, which is nice. Level 85 hunters have a base crit chance of around -1.5 percent, so on average, your pet should crit a bit more than you do even without talents. Also I noticed that I was critting a lot more than I expected, myself. In Wrath, raid bosses actually reduce your crit chance by about 4.6 percent. While the handful of tests I did weren't that precise, it looked as if my crit was only being suppressed by around 1 percent. I wonder if this has changed to leave room for greater crit reduction of bosses at higher tiers of content?

At any rate, it seems that all pet types scales equally with hit rating, haste, crit and attack power. Stamina and armor scaling depend on the pet type. Here's what seems to be happening at the moment, and note that these scaling factors could be off by a fraction of a percent.

All level 85 pet base stats appear to be:
  • 932 attack power
  • 32,474 health
  • 11,647 armor
  • 2.0 attack speed
  • 0% crit
All pets appear to scale at:
  • 100% of hunter hit
  • 100% of hunter haste
  • 100% of hunter crit
  • 42.5% of hunter attack power
  • 0% from hunter strength
Ferocity pets appear to scale at:
  • 67% of hunter stamina
  • 50% of hunter armor
Cunning pets appear to scale at:
  • 72.5% of hunter stamina
  • 60% of hunter armor
Tenacity pets appear to scale at:
  • 78% of hunter stamina
  • 70% of hunter armor
Vortex Pinnacle

I hit up Vortex Pinnacle for a few times for one reason only: Zeherah told me that a gun dropped there! Cataclysm has been horrifically, disturbingly lacking in guns anywhere. I was delighted to learn one has been put in. Very quickly after starting the run, Vortex Pinnacle became my favorite 5-man so far.

Vortex Pinnacle is a series of platforms and walkways way up in the air, sort of a city in the clouds. A short way into our run, another hunter in the party accidentally disengaged off of the platform. He plummeted down until a gust of air caught him, spinning him around and around and around before finally depositing him safely back up on the platform.

Well, after that there was nothing for it, but I had to take a break from the run and spend the next couple of minutes leaping off myself. It was great fun! The instance also involves getting catapulted from tornado to tornado as a means of moving between platforms. Gotta love air elementals.

After a few runs, I finally saw the gun drop from the final boss. Much to my dismay, the gun was Thundercall (415 DPS, but with strength, parry and mastery). Technically, a tanking gun -- but happily, my tank-for-life, Hrist, let me have it so I can enjoy the big DPS that the gun still brings.

Cataclysm change: Not everything on the ground is evil

It was also on my first Vortex Pinnacle run that I made a shocking discovery about what's on the floor in Cataclysm.

We were fighting some boss -- none of them were terribly difficult (though a couple were minimum-range bosses, dammit), so our stalwart guide wasn't really explaining much beyond, "This boss is pretty easy." Well, a bit into the fight, a big blue oval appeared under my feet; naturally, I leaped to the side, popping an Arcane Shot mid-leap to keep the DPS flowing.

Then a moment later, I had this conversation over Vent with Joe, who was healing:
Joe: Um, Frost? Did you just deliberately jump out of my Healing Rain?

Frostheim: I jumped out of the evil floor underneath me. It's been out to get me since vanilla, you know.

Joe: No, that was my AoE heal effect.

Frostheim: Oh. Your heal puts a void zone on the floor? That's going to mess with my head something fierce.

Zeherah: Yeah, druids have one of those too now.

Joe: Ha! Yeah. Don't get me wrong, I approve of your instincts, and you do move with uncommon grace. I could watch you all day, really ...
So it appears that in Cataclysm, not all ground effects are something you need to move out of. While part of me thinks this is hilarious and wants to grats Blizzard on a clever joke, part of me worries. I mean, just imagine how much trouble we have convincing the average person to move out of void zones now. It's always: "If you see something under your feet, you get out. Always. Immediately, NOW NOW NOW!"

And yet they still stand in void zones. Now we're going to have to ask people not only to notice when a ground effect appears, but then to determine whether it's a helpful one or a harmful one -- and move only if it's harmful. We're going to get endless excuses of "OMG, I thought that was blah healing effect! LOL :D" ... which is sad, because I will have to start killing people. I'll have less brainspan to spend on huntering, since I'll be using a lot of it to commit the perfect crime repeatedly.

Personally, I'm just excited for the first boss who has a void zone that looks dangerously similar to one of the healing effects. You know it's going to happen.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. Our Scattered Shots Resource Guide takes aim at everything from improving your heroic DPS, understanding the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.

Filed under: Hunter, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

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