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Hunter - Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch Notes Analysis

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Icy Veins asks the experts' opinions on their favorite class changes! Today, Rogerbrown discusses Hunter patch notes.

The Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes have been out for only a few days, but millions of players are already voicing strong opinions of the direction Blizzard is headed with the game in this coming expansion. Some class changes have received overwhelmingly positive feedback, while others have left many a player scratching their head. A few changes have even caused a substantial outcry of rage!


To see things more clearly, we've invited a handful of our class MVPs to share their opinions on the changes made to their respective class. For this patch notes analysis topic, we have requested feedback from our resident expert on the projected changes being made to the Hunter class. Rogerbrown from Method has been kind enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming Hunter changes!

Blizzard Icon Hunter WoD Alpha Changes

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Ability Pruning

  • Arcane Shot is no longer available to Marksmanship Hunters.
  • Thrill of the Hunt now also reduces the cost of Aimed Shot when active, to preserve its value to Marksmanship Hunters.
  • Aspect of the Hawk has been removed.
  • Aspect of the Iron Hawk has been renamed to Iron Hawk, and now passively provides 10% damage reduction.
  • Cower has been removed as a pet ability.
  • Distracting Shot has been removed.
  • Hunter’s Mark has been removed.
  • Kill Shot is no longer available to Survival Hunters.
  • Lock and Load has been removed and its effect has been incorporated into Black Arrow, which now has a chance to cause the effect.
  • Stampede is now a level-75 talent, replacing Lynx Rush.
  • Lynx Rush has been removed.
  • Rabid has been removed as a pet ability.
  • Rapid Fire has been removed.
  • Rapid Recuperation has been removed.
  • Serpent Sting and Improved Serpent Sting have been removed.
    • Serpent Spread has been renamed Serpent Sting, and remains a passive for Survival Hunters. It causes Multi-Shot and Arcane Shot to also apply the Serpent Sting poison, which does instant and periodic damage.
  • Widow Venom has been removed.
  • Revive Pet and Mend Pet now share one button, which toggles based on whether you have a live pet.

Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns

  • Hunter pets no longer have crowd-control abilities.
    • Basilisk: Petrifying Gaze; Bat: Sonic Blast; Bird of Prey: Snatch; Crab: Pin; Crane: Lullaby; Crocolisk: Ankle Crack; Dog: Lock Jaw; Gorilla: Pummel; Monkey: Bad Manners; Moth: Serenity Dust; Nether Ray: Nether Shock; Porcupine: Paralyzing Quill; Rhino: Horn Toss; Scorpid: Clench; Shale Spider: Web Wrap; Silithid: Venom Web Spray; Spider: Web; and Wasp: Sting have been removed as pet abilities.
  • Entrapment’s Root effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Root effects.
  • Scatter Shot has been removed.
  • Silencing Shot has been removed.
  • Traps and trap launchers no longer have an arming time and can instantly trigger.
  • Traps can no longer be disarmed.
  • Scare Beast now has a 6 sec duration in PvP (down from 8 sec).

Buffs and Debuffs


Weakened Blows was a debuff that mattered almost exclusively to tanks, and that every tank automatically applied. We removed the debuff and reduced creature damage to compensate.
  • Weakened Blows
    • The following abilities have been removed.
      • Hunter Pets, Bear: Demoralizing Roar; Carrion Bird: Demoralizing Screech
The Cast Speed Slow was a debuff type that mattered almost exclusively to PvP, and made combat much less fun for casters in addition to encouraging the use of instant-cast spells. We decided that it was best to remove casting speed debuffs.
  • Cast Speed Slows
    • The following abilities have been removed.
      • Hunter Pets, Core Hound: Lava Breath; Fox: Tailspin; Goat: Trample; Sporebat: Spore Cloud
As part of a push to combine the different types of Haste in the game as much as possible, we merged Spell Haste and Attack Speed into just Haste, which benefits everyone.
  • The following abilities now provide a 5% increase to melee, ranged, and spell Haste to all Party and Raid members (previously they only increased spell Haste).
    • Hunter Pet (Sporebat): Energizing Spores
  • The following Hunter pet abilities have been removed.
    • Hyena: Cackling Howl; Serpent: Serpent's Swiftness

Class Changes


Hunters have lacked a strong distinction between the different specializations. What we mean by that is that the Hunter specializations all had rotations that felt similar, with Marksmanship and Survival having the most blurred identities (Beast Mastery felt well rooted in the pet). Hunters were also some of the most afflicted by button bloat. To address these problems, we opted to make changes to each specialization's rotation, primarily through removing abilities, and making some of them unique to each spec. This means things like Aimed Shot being the primary Focus dump for Marksmanship, instead of Arcane Shot or Serpent Sting being available only to Survival. Hunters also had a large number of cooldown abilities, which we've also cut down (some of which we moved to the talent tree, competing with other active buttons). For a full list of what was removed, please see Ability Pruning and PvP - Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns.

One of the most difficult abilities to decide to cut was Aspect of the Hawk. It began to feel fairly meaningless, since it was used virtually all of the time in combat, so might as well have just been passive. We decided to cut Aspect of the Hawk, and bake in its benefit to the other abilities. The remaining aspect abilities are all utility only, and are being moved off the stance bar and made toggles.

Overall, Hunters should see a drastic reduction in the number of active buttons, and have a clearer distinction between the different specializations. With some of these changes, you may find yourself favoring a different specialization. Keep in mind that Draenor Perks, earned from levels 91 to 99, will serve to further distinguish the different specializations.
  • Aspect of the Pack no longer appears on the stance bar and is now on the global cooldown.
  • Aspect of the Cheetah no longer appears on the stance bar and is now on the global cooldown.
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Beast: The ability taught by this Glyph no longer appears on the stance bar and is now on the global cooldown.
  • Glyph of Aspect of the Cheetah: No longer triggers any cooldown on Aspects.
We did a comprehensive pass on Hunter pet abilities. As mentioned above in Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns, all full crowd-control abilities have been removed from Hunter pets and replaced those with new abilities, including spreading some that were previously restricted to exotic pets. Additionally, Hunters can now tame beasts from new pet families.
  • Hunters may now tame beasts from 3 new pet families.
    • Hydra
    • Riverbeast
    • Hook Wasp (Exotic)
  • Abilities unique to each hunter pet family have been revised to provide a standard buff, debuff, or ability.
    • Combat Resurrection ability: Crane, Moth, Quilen
    • Mortal Wounds debuff: Carrion Bird, Devilsaur, Riverbeast, Scorpid
    • Increased Spell Power buff: Serpent, Silithid, Water Strider
    • Increased Strength/Agility/Intellect buff: Dog, Gorilla, Shale Spider, Worm
    • Increased Critical Strike Chance buff: Devilsaur, Quilen, Raptor, Shale Spider, Water Strider, Wolf
    • Temporary Haste buff: Core Hound, Nether Ray
    • Increased Haste buff: Hook Wasp, Hyena, Sporebat, Wasp
    • Increased Mastery buff: Cat, Hydra, Spirit Beast, Tallstrider
    • Increased Stamina buff: Bear, Goat, Hook Wasp, Silithid
    • Increased Magic Damage Taken debuff: Basilisk, Bat, Chimaera, Core Hound, Dragonhawk, Rhino, Wind Serpent
    • Increased Physical Damage Taken debuff: Bird of Prey, Boar, Porcupine, Ravager, Rhino, Worm
    • An ability that increases dodge chance of the pet by 30% for 10 seconds: Fox, Monkey
    • An ability that reduces damage taken by the pet by 50% for 12 seconds: Beetle, Crab, Quilen, Rhino, Shale Spider, Turtle
    • An ability that Reduces the movement speed of the target by 50%: Chimaera, Crocolisk, Silithid, Spider, Warp Stalker
    • The following pet families provide an ability that puts the pet in stealth mode, but slows its movement speed by 50%. The first attack from stealth receives a 20% bonus to damage: Cat, Spirit Beast
  • The following pet families also provide an additional ability.
    • Chimaera - Froststorm Breath: Causes Froststorm damage to all targets in front of the Chimaera over 8 seconds.
    • Core Hound - Molten Hide: Causes Fire damage to attackers.
    • Devilsaur - Feast: The devilsaur feasts on a nearby Humanoid or Beast corpse within 5 yards, healing it for 20% of its maximum health and restoring 20 Focus over 5 seconds.
    • Direhorn - Reflective Armor Plating: Deflects all spells cast in front of the Direhorn for 6 seconds.
    • Hook Wasp - Flutter: Slows the fall speed of both itself and the hunter for 30 seconds.
    • Spirit Beast - Spirit Mend: Heals the target ally instantly, and additional healing over 10 seconds.
    • Water Strider - Surface Trot: Allows the Hunter and the Water Strider to walk across water.
    • Worm - Burrow Attack: Deals Nature damage to nearby enemies over 8 seconds.
There were also a few other changes, primarily for quality of life and rotational consistency.
  • Aimed Shot now deals 20% more damage, no longer interrupts Auto Attacks, and can be cast while moving.

  • Dismiss Pet now ignores line of sight.
  • Growl now has a 30-yard range.
  • Hunter Pets now have a 1-second global cooldown.
  • Black Arrow’s periodic effect now has a chance each time it deals damage to cause the next 2 Explosive Shots to cost no Focus and not trigger a cooldown. This effect is guaranteed to activate at least once.
  • Explosive Trap now places a periodic-damage effect on each target within the radius of the explosion, rather than a persistent effect on the ground.
  • Several raid buffs provided by pets have been changed into auras that are automatically applied to the Hunter's party or raid.


1. What is your overall impression of Blizzard's changes to the Hunter class?


Rogerbrown: I think the majority of the changes to the hunter class are positive, either being removals of useless mechanics, or just quality of life changes to each of the 3 specs. Though, I would like to see some further changes and especially some new abilities that will have an impact for each spec's rotations. Overall, it seems like Blizzard is realizing what is working and what is not and is not afraid to remove abilities and mechanics that have been in the game even since vanilla WoW if they don't make sense keeping anymore, which is a good thing!

2. Which changes do you think are the best and why?


Rogerbrown: First off, I am glad that they are removing some of our abilities, since I always thought that the hunter class had way more abilities compared to other classes in the game (when I played a rogue, I needed 2/3 of the keybinds I use with my hunter for example). Some prime examples of abilities which had no reason to stay are Hunter's Mark, Aspect of the Hawk, Widow Venom. I am also glad that Stampede was changed into a talent, because regardless how people feel about unleashing a zoo to their foes, the truth is that this was our biggest dps cooldown and it didn't feel epic to me. It was just a press one button every 5 minutes that does X damage with no impact whatsoever on your rotation.

For the 3 specs in particular, I really enjoyed the Marksmanship changes:
  • the removal of Arcane Shot, so that you only have one focus dump ability
  • the extra 20 focus from a perk while lvling
  • aimed shots no longer interrupt auto attacks
  • aimed shot crits refund 20 focus
As for Survival, I am just glad that I will never again be made fun of for letting my Serpent Sting fall off \o/!. It was an ability that didn't have any depth into it, you just put it up on a target and keep it up for the rest of the fight. Beast Mastery didn't have many big changes unfortunately.

3. Which changes do you think are the worst and why?


Rogerbrown: One of the changes which I was sad about is the removal of Distracting Shot. Even though it had limited use in raids and PvP, I think the utility that it gives hunters is quite cool, and it will definitely be missed by a lot of hunters in WoD when they find themselves in situations that it would be useful. It was an ability that no other class had something similar to and that made it special. The only other change which I didn't quite get is the removal of Rapid Fire.

For Survival and Marksmanship, this was the only big dps cooldown that actually was impactful to your rotation and felt very 'huntery' to shoot faster for a few seconds. Now the only cooldown left for these two specializations is Stampede, which is a talent choice and as I described above I am not a big fan of.

4. How would you alter any of the existing changes?


Rogerbrown:  I would also not completely remove Rapid Fire from the game. I believe every specialization should have its own dps cooldown like Beast Mastery has Bestial Wrath. So I would make Rapid Fire a Marksmanship only ability and also give Survival a new cooldown that makes sense for the spec. IF hunters don't have any good dps cooldowns, it will be a big drawback for the class, since it is generally better for the majority of boss fights to be able to do some burst dps, either to push a boss out of a hard phase of the fight, or use any boss debuffs which makes them take more damage to the fullest (#doubledip). Sustained damage is only going to be good in Patchwerk-like fights.

A dps cooldown that I have thought about, which could fit Survival was Hunter's Mark. Make it similar to the Rogue's Vendetta. When you mark your target, you do bonus % damage to it and to make it more interesting, make it so your Cobra Shots give you double the focus when you use them on your Marked target.

5. What changes would you like to see in WOD?


Rogerbrown: In WoD I would like to see some new abilities/talents which change your normal 'rotation' either in the form of procs like LnL, or buffs/debuffs that change the way you think of your priority list of abilities for a brief period of time. I still have some hopes that each class will be getting a new shiny ability at lvl 100! If you think about it, Hunters' rotations haven't changed much in the last 2 expansions. I believe a new core ability is needed, if not for all 3 specs, then at least for Beast Mastery (which looks like it will be almost the exact same as it is in MoP with the current changes list).

Another change I would like to see is to give the Snake Trap a clear meaning. Right now I find myself using it for the Entrapment root whenever I play Survival, but it is supposed to also give the enemies debuffs and it also does some laughable damage which is only good at breaking CC. I would love if they made Snake Trap a Survival only spell, with a meaningful impact. If they want to make it a trap to put up debuffs, then remove the damage portion of the snakes and also add a debuff which is meaningful in raids (like 10% increase damage of the Hunter's dots).

To conclude, I am eagerly awaiting any new changes that Blizzard is preparing, as I think that they are going in the right direction and I want to see the full picture from their PoV before calling some of their changes good or bad.

Patch Notes Last Updated - 24 April 2014
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Good guy RogerBrown. He hits the nail on the hammer for the changes coming to hunters

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Was about time they fix the hunters.

 

I only disagree that  "Distracting shot  has limited use in raids and  PVP". Game vs hunter is total crowd control (net(pet skill), trap, distracting shot). Not to mention deterrance and the back jump with net talent.

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Whoa i completely agree with his remarks. I like how they want to make each spec more unique, but there's still a long way to go.

And not having a dps cooldown is a bore. I hope they add a dps cooldown for each spec, as he said. Mages have it, Locks have it, Rogues have it. It helps defining the spec and it makes gameplay more interesting, deciding when and how to use cds.

 

"I would like to see some further changes and especially some new abilities"

This applies to most classes. There's a lot being removed, i'd like to see new gameplay arriving.

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