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Scattered Shots: Moar boars -- Stampede Q&Q

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the hunter podcast 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.or ask him on Google+.

During the recent Mists of Pandaria press tour event, Lead Systems Deisgner Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street gave an interview in which he revealed that hunters would be getting a stampede ability, letting hunters unleash the fury of a stable full of pets all at once.

Now, I don't want to imply anything bad about the interviewer in that segment, but in what world do you let a comment like that pass by? I know that there are some people who enjoy playing support classes, but when he wanders on talking about rogue nonsense, any good interviewer would stop him, pin him down, and start asking more questions about hunters! This is what MoP is all about after all -- hunter glory!

Stampede is the best and biggest news to come out of MoP since no minimum range, and we're left more questions than answers. In fact, when I started thinking about what I want to know about stampede, I realized it could fill an entire column. And then I realized that stampede is so awesome that it deserves to fill a whole column. So here is what we know about the ability, how I suspect it will work, and what we want to know about the ability.

What we know

What we know boils down to this quote from Ghostcrawler:

I don't think we've talked about what we're doing for the hunter yet. I think a lot of hunter players have guessed it but the hunter level 87 ability is basically, you get all your pets at once for a short amount of time. So if you have five pets in your stable, they all come out and they do damage for a little bit of time. That's like a really fun cooldown for them. I think it increases beast mastery damage by like 80% while they're out, or something ridiculous like that.

So stampede is going to be a level 87 hunter ability -- not a BM spec ability -- meaning that all hunters will have access to it. It will act as a short, DPS burst cooldown. It will bring out your stable of pets, which likely means the active five pets that you have access to (not your entire stable of 25 sitting in the barn back home).

We also know that BM hunters get something in the neighborhood of an 80% DPS increase while it's active, and a decent implication that BM hunters will benefit more from stampede than other specs, likely due to their mastery.

What we don't know

To begin with, we don't know if it's called stampede. We don't have a lot of ideas of how the ability will actually work. Will it really call out our stable of five (or maybe six by level 90) customized hunter pets? Or will they all have a standardize set of stats just with different skins, like the shaman's spirit wolves? Will the pets actually have access to their pet abilities? Raid buffs? Talents (if there are pet talents)?

Another very important area of concern is how much control will we have over them. And where will this stable of pets appear? We know this is a short-duration cooldown, so if the pets appear next to us and we're at max range, will we burn 3 seconds waiting for the pets to run to the boss? It's fine if that's the case, because the ability can be balanced around it, but that also means that a hunter in melee range will get 3 extra seconds of stampede DPS. Perhaps this will be an interesting positioning ability in which we want to move in before popping it and move back to range later to squeeze out every last drop of DPS.

Frostheim's speculation

Here is my best guess on how stampede might actually work. This is pure speculation, but educated speculation as someone who's paid a lot of attention to how the Blizzard developers think and work for years (and, I should note, I predicted stampede in my 2012 predictions ... though I thought it would be BM only).

Stampede will likely last around 15 seconds and have a cooldown in the 3- to 5-minute range. When you pop the cooldown, all the pets in your stable will appear by your side and run to attack your target. These pets will not be customized like your primary pet is; they will not have talents, and they will not have Growl or Cower or any of those other pet abilities. They'll probably have a fixed amount of health (not scaling off your stats like your health), and that health will be enough that it takes several hits to kill them. No AoEing them down like a snake trap.

But while these pets will not have all the unique pet things, they will have the single raid buff or debuff ability of your pet. This includes not just the standard buffs but also slows, roots, interrupts, etc. They will use these abilities as soon as they are able. This makes stampede a much more interesting ability (it's a good ability either way, of course). Now, you suddenly have the option of building a stable of active pets that you have no intention of bringing out, just to make use of their ability for stampede.

There are going to have to be exceptions here, specifically the AoE pets. I have to assume that you won't get to stack five worms in your stable to AoE down mobs during stampede. In fact, I also suspect that worms (and chimeras) will no longer have an AoE ability at all in MoP, since we'll likely be able to make them ferocity and thus just do flat more DPS than any other pet, something Blizzard doesn't want to get back to.

While your stampede of pets is out doing its thing, your actual pet will still be there just like it always is, still behaving just like your pet.

More questions

Even if my theory on how stampede works is right, there are still a ton of questions. Here are some of the big ones, with my thoughts on the answer:
  • Will BM's mastery affect stampede damage? I suspect it will, to give BM the added benefit from the cooldown.
  • Will Bestial Wrath affect stampede? I doubt it.
  • Can stampede pets use Kill Command? Almost certainly not.
  • Will X talent affect stampede pets? I suspect no talents or spec abilities that boost pets will affect stampede pets, with the exception of BM mastery. This includes things like Mend Pet. Basically the stampede is not really your pets.
  • Will your current pet also appear in the stampede? It's one of the pets in your active stable, even if you have it out. Will another version of it appear in the stampede? I hope so! Moar boars!
  • How is the stampede controlled? Certainly you can't micromanage it like your own pet, but will we be able to at least tell it who to attack? Have it act like assist or defensive stance? Or will they just attack whatever the heck they feel like and we have no control (which, admittedly, would be pretty true to the flavor and make the stampede most useful on single-target boss fights/phases)?
  • Will Readiness reset stampede? I suspect so!
  • If there are multiple hunters in a raid and they all stampede at once and they all have stables full of sporebats, will the overwhelming awesomesauce actually delete all rogues from the server? Very possibly.
So this is my best guess about stampede and what I think are the biggest questions about the ability. Did I miss anything crucial here? Can you think of other huge questions that need answers or other ridiculously awesome combos that can take advantage of stampede?

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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