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Scattered Shots: Masses of hunter beta changes

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+.

As the Mists of Pandaria beta progresses we're beginning to learn more about how many of the awesome new hunter abilities will work, and of course we're seeing many of the inevitable changes to abilities, including happy news that the 2-second cast time on Black Arrow and lack of Serpent Spread is likely to be reverted to the current design (which also means the AoE component of the beta Black Arrow is likely going away, too).

We got a look at exactly what abilities the different pet specs will have in MoP. The design is very much in keeping with the plan we discussed last week and does a good job of helping make the different pet specs feel distinctly different (since you no longer have DPS talents for tenacity pets and tanking talents for ferocity), though there are a few abilities lost that hurt.

In fact, pets are a fantastic place to start. Let's take a look at exactly what abilities Blizzard assigned to each of the pet specs.

Hunter pet spec abilities in MoP

Every hunter pet in Mists of Pandaria has the following abilities:
It's worth noting that the tooltip on Growl now says that it includes a taunt -- if so, this is an incredibly powerful tool for hunters that, unfortunately, will be left on auto-cast by unskilled and new hunters everywhere and likely give hunters a brand new bad name in the eyes of tanks. Of course, in the hands of a skilled hunter, this is a valuable tool for saving healers and recovering from botched pulls.

In addition to the abilities every pet has, each pet spec gains the following abilities that used to be talents:

Ferocity

Cunning

Tenacity

With the knowledge that pet DPS will be rebalanced (like all DPS is every expansion), I'm not worried about losing or gaining flat DPS abilities except in how the specs compare against each other. On that front, the new Spiked Collar is clearly making ferocity the DPS spec that it should be (and honestly I'm glad some of the DPS abilities are going away from cunning -- the identity of the two specs is a bit of a blur in Cataclysm).

The real painful loss here is Call of the Wild, which was a useful DPS cooldown for hunters. Certainly, the redesigned Rabid takes its place as a burst cooldown for our pets, but it's not something that we can stack with other cooldowns for our own burst.

For those who really want to know, we have a list of every hunter pet ability that is going away in MoP.

Stampede

We've finally had a chance to see Stampede in action as well as learn a bit about how it works. It's a bit tough to tell right now which parts of Stampede are bugs and which are working as intended, but here's the rundown:
  • Stampede summons your active stable of pets. If you're SV or MM and have spirit beasts in that stable, they will not come out, and your Stampede will have fewer pets.
  • Stampede pets have their special abilities (all the ones listed above, and their raid buff) and will use them. This means that you'll want to turn Growl and some others off of auto-cast before dismissing the pet into the stable.
  • Stampede pets do not benefit from Bestial Wrath, Kill Command, or Beast Cleave, as we suspected.
Stampede has also had its cooldown changed to 10 minutes. The intent of this becomes clear when we see that Readiness has also been changed to only reset the cooldown of abilities with cooldowns less than 6 minutes.

This in particular is an awkward change that I'm not thrilled about. In practice, this means that when your raid team is wiping on a boss, you'll only have access to Stampede every other attempt, the way Heroism used to be (and that was changed for just this reason, I suspect). With any luck, Blizzard will change Stampede to just have a 6-minute cooldown or manually exempt it from Readiness, if that's the real issue.

I'm fine not being able to Stampede twice in a row, but I want to be able to use my DPS burst cooldown on every boss attempt, darnit.

Black Arrow reversion

As I mentioned earlier, it looks like Blizzard will probably be reverting the design of Black Arrow back to what it currently is on live. Here's what Lead Systems Designer Ghostcrawler said about it on the forums:

Ghostcrawler
We agree with you that the redesigned Black Arrow hasn't worked out well yet, and even overlaps a little with the new Powershot talent. We are likely to revert Black Arrow to the 4.3 design.


In response to a later question, Ghostcrawler said that Serpent Spread (which is gone now in beta) would be re-implemented, as well.

Snake Trap buffed

It was noticed that Snake Trap in the beta has been pretty massively buffed from the current design. Rather than giving the snakes token health and token damage, the snakes of snake trap now have health and damage that scale based off of hunter gear. At level 85 in the beta, the snakes were reporting hitting for 500 to 1,000 damage per bite and with over 20,000 health each.

In addition, it appears that the snakes will only damage the target that triggered the trap. This is speculated to be a PvP buff, so that the snakes don't wander all over the arena and ignore the guy chasing you that you want to slow.

Minor Glyph of Aspects

A new minor glyph for hunters made its way into the beta. The Glyph of Aspects is a purely cosmetic glyph that you would use just for fun. With the glyph, every time you activate an aspect, an animal companion representing the aspect will appear and follow you for 15 seconds.

Here's a video of it in action from SneakySams:


Personally, I think this is a really neat little flavor glyph and the perfect role for minor glyphs. I wish we had more minor glyphs like this. And if you don't want a wee animal trailing after you -- no problem, there's no mechanical benefit, so choose a different glyph.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter 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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