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Scattered Shots: Hunter spec abilities in Mists of Pandaria

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.

Blizzard posted its Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, giving us a bit more of a peek into how things are going to play out with the new talent system. The talents that we're seeing are the same as what was revealed at BlizzCon (and we will get around to looking at those in depth soon -- just not today). But in addition to the talents, we also got to see the very first look at what our new spec abilities would look like.

Some of the support classes actually got to see what some of their new spec abilities would be in MoP, but as the premiere death dealers in WoW, they needed more time to refine the ultimate abilities of the hunter class.

If you'll recall, in MoP talents will be class-wide and not specific to each spec (and there will be far fewer of them). Many of what are now spec talents will become default spec abilities that each spec gets when it reaches the appropriate level. Others are going away entirely. Today we're going to take a look at what those must-have abilities are for each spec and which ones appear to be gone completely.

Disclaimer: It's very early information

As always, the suits running things at WoW Insider insist that I must warn you of the following:
  • This is very early information and it's subject to change.
  • It's not even alpha yet, it's not just subject to change, but in fact it will change in some form.
  • Recent studies suggest that just standing next to a death knight could cause whining, leet speek, and the rotted stench of imminent defeat.
OK, with that out of the way, let's take a look at what we've got.

Hunter spec abilities

The following are the abilities that are unique to each spec and the level at which players of that spec will automatically learn the ability. This is exactly as the abilities are listed on Blizzard's calculator, and we already know that some of them aren't quite right.

Beast Mastery
  • 30 Frenzy
  • 32 Focus Fire
  • 40 Bestial Wrath
  • 43 Cobra Strikes
  • 50 The Beast Within
  • 58 Kindred Spirits
  • 63 Invigoration
  • 69 Beast Mastery
  • 80 Master of Beasts (mastery)
Marksmanship
  • 10 Aimed Shot
  • 20 Careful Aim
  • 30 Concussive Barrage
  • 39 Trueshot Aura
  • 43 Marked for Death
  • 45 Bombardment
  • 58 Master Marksman
  • 60 Chimera Shot
  • 80 Wild Quiver (mastery)
Survival
  • 10 Explosive Shot
  • 50 Black Arrow
  • 55 Entrapment
  • 63 Lock and Load
  • 64 Trap Mastery
  • 68 Serpent Spread
  • 69 Hunting Party
  • 70 T.N.T.
  • 80 Essence of the Viper (mastery)

The first thing you'll note here is that BM appears not to have any level 10 ability -- the thing that you usually get the instant you choose your spec. However, we already know from what Lead Systems Designer Ghostcrawler said at BlizzCon that Kill Command will become the BM level 10 ability and will no longer be a core class ability available to the other hunter specs. We can also see that SV learns no abilities between level 10 and 50, and that's almost surely going to change and get filled in.

Another thing that we know we don't know is what the actual abilities will do -- which is half of the reason I haven't included tooltips for them (laziness is the other half, and possibly the bigger half -- but I promise I'm going to do a ton of tooltip linking in a bit, and then we'll both agree that I've done more than enough of it). Certainly most of these abilities will be nearly identical to what they are now, but some of these abilities will change into entirely new things.

We already know that one of these is Aspect of the Cheetah, which in MoP will have the daze component removed. The aspect will give hunters the 30% speed boost, and if you take damage, you'll just lose the speed boost but won't go slower than normal. We do not yet know if this is also how Aspect of the Pack will work -- but if it is, you can expect several raid boss fights to require a hunter be in Aspect of the Pack to help everyone move into position and away from the bad stuff faster.

MIA hunter talents

The following talents are missing in action from this first draft of MoP, and I think this list is actually a lot more interesting than what is being kept. These are talents that are not turning into spec abilities and are also not being transferred into new talents, either, though I've also called out which spec talents are turning into new MoP class talents that any spec can take. The rest appear, in this early pass, to be going away entirely.

Beast Mastery
Becoming class talents:
Marksmanship
Becoming class talents:
Survival
Becoming class talents:

One of the goals with the talent system redesign was to turn a lot of the "you're an idiot if you don't take this" talents that aren't really choices into spec abilities and to get rid of a bunch of talents that just are that necessary or interesting.

We can see a lot of success in both of those goals here, but also some odd choices that seem as though they'll change the feel of the spec substantially. For example, MM is losing Improved Steady Shot, and maintaining that is a keystone of its rotation right now. On the other hand, it's also a pain, and a good number of hunters complained about it in the class design feedback thread. Similarly, MM is losing Piercing Shots, a standby defining passive ability of the spec, as well as losing the big focus regen-fest during Rapid Fire by losing Rapid Recuperation (as well as the lovely soloing talent that combos with it, Rapid Killing).

BM is losing Killing Streak and the big red pet cooldown-reducing Longevity. It's also worth noting that the BM specialization Intimidation is becoming a class-wide talent. SV, on the other hand, is losing some of the extra oomph from its DoTs, with Improved Serpent Sting and Noxious Stings going away.

I know a good number of hunters are upset about the loss of some trivial SV survival abilities and some BM hunters don't like their changes, but I have to say that MM is really getting shaken up the most, with substantial rotation changes as well as utility talent losses, though all specs are losing some utility talents.

Moar disclaiming

One thing that's important to stress is that with any expansion and with every expansion, every single class and every single spec is completely rebalanced. The amount of damage that any given ability does, the cooldowns and durations of defensive and offensive abilities -- they're all re-evaluated.

What this means is that we cannot look at this and cry that our DPS is going to be too low or our survival will be too low or anything like that. We haven't yet seen any numbers, and so we're not paying attention to numbers now. Instead, this is giving us an idea for the feel and the design intent behind the ability system in the expansion.

... not to mention, of course, that we have yet to see our new class and spec abilities. We have been told in a blue post that Blizzard is considering a Stampede ability where all five active pets charge out to do some damage on a long cooldown. There could be a bunch of awesome things like that coming. Fingers crossed anyway -- let's hope we don't end up with another Camouflage rotting in our awesome top-level ability slot.

So what do you think about these talents? Are there talents getting tossed that you object to strongly?

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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