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Scattered Shots: Hunter tier 13 set bonuses

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

While we hunters wait for the PTR to be updated to include the meaningful hunter changes that are no doubt coming (other than the awesome gun finally showing up), Blizzard has released the tier 13 set bonus mechanics to give us something to speculate about as we gaze upon the datamined tier 13 looks. While there's still information that we don't know about how the set bonuses will work, at first glance, the Wyrmstalker set bonuses look pretty awesome.

The hunter tier 13 set bonuses are very appropriate for the final set of the expansion, very likely giving us some nice DPS gains and two bonuses that work very well together. However, like our tier 11 set bonus, these puppies are going to change up our shot rotations, at least partially. Here is what we know:
  • Two-piece Steady Shot and Cobra Shot generate double the amount of focus.
  • Four-piece Your Arcane Shot ability has a chance to grant 30% haste to you and your pet for 10 seconds.
For all those hunters who were complaining about hunter focus regen in the hunter design feedback thread, now is your chance to see what your class would feel like with substantially more focus regeneration. Join me after the cut as we dig into these set bonuses, discuss the implications and run some initial numbers.

Important note Remember that the PTR isn't even up yet. These points are absolutely subject to change at any time; recall that the tier 11 four-piece bonus changed to something radically different than what it first was. However, this does give us a very good look at what the designers are thinking about, and it's very likely that this will be the final set bonus.

Two-piece set bonus

The 2-piece set bonus for hunter tier 13 just flat out increases our focus regen by doubling the amount of focus our Steady Shot or Cobra Shot casts net us. To be clear, this is not doubling our focus regen -- just one part of it.

Hunters currently regen focus with a base passive focus regeneration of 4 focus per second. We also get 9 focus every time we cast a Steady/Cobra. Our haste effects boost our passive focus regen -- so 10% haste would boost our passive regen to 4.4 focus per second, and different haste effects stack muliplicatively. Haste doesn't directly increase the focus regen of our Steady/Cobra casts; however, since it shortens the cast time, it is in effect boosting the total focus regen per second -- but only if we can reduce that cast enough to let us squeeze an extra shot in our rotation (haste plateaus).

The focus boost from the set bonus is large and fantastic. It will allow all hunters extra focus to maintain focus-positive rotations more easily and let us use more Arcane Shots (or other focus dumps), which means more damage. Preliminary calculations suggest this set bonus is about on par with the tier 12 two-piece set bonus in terms of DPS gain.

PVP implications Interestingly, PVP hunters in particular will love this set bonus. They suffer incredibly from focus issues, and while this won't fix the core problems (minimum range and LoS focus regen issues), it will certainly help them. I can only hope that the new PVP set will have some kind of similar bonus so that PVP hunters don't feel like they're forced to raid just to have the best PVP gear.

This set bonus is likely to change up hunter rotations. In particular, MM hunters tend to have a very tight rotation with the need to maintain the Improved Steady Shot buff by casting pairs of Steady Shots every 8 seconds. MM tends to cast more Steady/Cobras than any other hunter spec, meaning they're going to have the most change-up in their rotation with all that extra focus. SV hunters who already have a somewhat chaotic and volatile rotation could find it even more chaotic as they attempt to squeeze in more Arcane Shots without accidentally having an Arcane Shot eat up one of their Lock & Load procs.

Four-piece set bonus

The four-piece set bonus is the most interesting and has the potential to give us the most DPS -- potentially a heck of a lot of DPS. A 30% haste boost for us and our pet is giant, and it also has the side effect of boosting our focus regen during that hasted period. This proc is almost like having another 10-second Heroism fired off from time to time during boss fights.

The delightful thing about the four-piece set bonus is the way that it combos with the two-piece. The two-piece bonus gives us substantially more focus that we can use to fire more Arcane Shots, and the four-piece lets us turn those added Arcane Shots into awesome haste procs. Of course, not all hunter specs fire the same number of Arcane Shots -- but the bonuses do self-balance somewhat. The big question here is how this will work with the MM hunters who prefer not to case Arcane Shots at all; more on that in a bit.

First, we need to acknowledge the big thing that will remain unknown until we can get a look at it in action on the PTR is exactly what the proc rate of the four-piece bonus is. Another closely related factor is how the proc will work. There are basically two scenarios here:
  • Method A The set bonus works more like a trinket and has a relatively high proc chance but with an internal cooldown. Most proc trinkets work this way, and it allows us to predict pretty accurately when and how often the bonus will proc. Here we're looking at proc chances around 30% or even higher. If the bonus works this way, we'll want to track the internal cooldown of the set bonus; once it's up, we may want to be in a position to spam a bunch of Arcane Shots to get the next proc as soon as possible.
  • Method B The set bonus has no internal cooldown and instead has a very low proc chance. This is a bit more common method of how set bonus procs tend to work, but there's really no telling. In this model, the bonus has a flat chance to proc on every Arcane Shot fire, but it's a very low chance, as low as 5%. With no internal cooldown, you could get procs happening back to back or even on top of each other -- something that would then just exend the duration of the haste effect. (It's incredibly unlikely that you'd actually stack the two effects.) This method gives us far less control over when the proc occurs, and the only thing we can do is cast as many Arcane Shots as possible throughout the fight to maximize the proc uptime.
Whether the proc follows method A or method B has an impact on how each of the specs will use this proc. Here's the spec-by-spec rundown:

Beast Mastery BM hunters have more spare focus that is channeled into more Arcane Shots than any other spec. As such, BM would benefit most from Method B and would likely see more procs than other specs. I think this would be great, since BM is a bit behind the other specs in DPS (though hopefully there will be other tweaks in patch 4.3 to rectify that).

In a Method A scenario, BM would of course still benefit greatly from the set bonus, just not more than other hunters.

Marksmanship MM is the exact opposide of BM and would prefer Method A and the internal cooldown on the proc. The challenge that MM faces currently is that it can do more damage by hardcasting Aimed Shot than by using Arcane Shot as a focus dump. This benefit is most pronounced when under major haste effects, but it still yields a small benefit at other times.

If the set bonus uses Method A of proccing, then MM hunters can use an Arcane Shot focus dump until they get the proc and then go back to hardcasting Aimed Shot until the internal cooldown wears off. If the proc uses Method B, then MM will still be hardcasting Aimed when under haste effects (including the set bonus proc) but would always want to use Arcane Shot as the focus dump outside of haste effects. And even then, MM will simply end up with far fewer procs than other hunter specs, since MM hunters spend a substantial portion of every fight under haste effects, with four Rapid Fires in addition to Heroism and this new proc.

But then, that may be appropriate as well: Make the set bonus worth using for MM but a smaller benefit to let the other specs close the DPS gap.

Survival Survival is the spec more in the middle and doesn't favor one method very strongly over the other. The internal cooldown of Method A would be a bit more beneficial to SV, since even with the two-piece bonus boosting the rate of Arcane Shots fired, SV hunters still won't be launching off nearly as many as BM, with Black Arrow as an additional drain on their focus.

The simple summation

The two-piece bonus is great for hunters -- about equivalent to the T12 two-piece bonus, except of course that the gear will have better stats. The four-piece bonus will have to wait until we know how the proc works. The proc effect is fantastic, but if we only get it once per fight, we might be better off with different gear. If, on the other hand, the proc rate is good, this will be a phenomenal DPS boost.

Zeherah has run some initial modeling with a guesstimate of a 15% proc chance with no internal cooldown, which shows the four-piece bonus being worth over 1,000 DPS across all hunter specs. That's pure speculation on the proc, of course, but it is still awesome.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter and choosing the best patch 4.2 gear to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?

Filed under: Hunter, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

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