Saturday, 19 July 2008

Its' Baseless Speculation Time!

So, you might have noticed a little bit of hubub in the last day or so when Blizzard lifted the NDA, kicked off the open beta of WotLK, and information started pouring out.

Happily, we've finally gotten a look at what new talents and abilities Hunters will have come WotLK.  Since it seems to be the "hip" thing to be doing right now, here's my take on some of the changes:

Being Talented

Master's Call [NYI]
Rank 1/1
7% of base mana 40 yd range
Instant cast 1 min cooldown
Your pet attempts to remove all stun and movement impairing effects on the target, and cause them to be immune to all effects for 4 sec.

This apparently is replacing Animal Handler.  For the life of me, I cannot see how Blizzard is going to rationalise this.  I mean, it's cool and all, but how exactly does an animal make someone immune to movement impairing effects?

Believe it or not, Tiddles is actually not at all qualified to perform amputations...

Perhaps it's best not to ask...

Cobra Strikes
Rank 3/3
You have a 60% chance when you critically hit with Arcane Shot, Steady Shot or Kill Shot to cause your pet's next 3 special attacks to critically hit.

I find this interesting since it basically increases your pet's ability to keep Frenzy up (heck; maybe we could drop another point from it!)  But by itself, it's not that incredible.  That's why I want to pair it with:

Rank 2/2
When your pet scores a critical hit with a special ability, you instantly regenerate 2% mana.

Let's do a little light theorycrafting.  Currently, I have ~20% crit, and an attack speed of 1.74 seconds.  Averaging that out, that means I'm hitting a target ~1.15 times a second with a 1:1 rotation.  Taking a 20% crit rate, that's 0.23 crits per second.  Which is 0.14 Cobra Strike procs per second.  Now, let's assume that Cobra Strikes doesn't proc again until our pet has gotten his three specials off.  We'll also assume we have a focus dump, and that we can supply him with enough focus to keep using it.

Combined with 2/2 Invigoration, three crits per Cobra Strikes proc, 0.14 procs per second and a base of 6200 mana, that's:

~0.14 procs per second × 3 crits per proc × (2% of 6200 mana) per crit = ~51 mana per second

That's about 256 MP5.  You'd need to be able to supply your pet with 17 focus per second; according to Cheeky's spreadsheet, I'm currently at 24 focus per second.  What's interesting is that also according to Cheeky's, I use 69 mana per second during my 1:1 rotation, which is about 347 MP5.   Let's switch on Viper, which gives me (in the average case) 87 MP5.  That means if I got just 4 MP5 from other sources, I'd never actually run out of mana...

Beast Mastery [NYI]
Rank 1/1
You master the art of Beast Training, teaching you the ability to tame Exotic pets and increasing your total amount of Pet Skill Points by 5.

This, right here, is huge.  Let's deal with the second half first.

... increasing your total amount of Pet Skill Points by 5.

For those that aren't aware, loyalty and the Training Point system is being thrown out for a simpler talent-like system.  Starting at level 20, pets will get one Skill Point every four levels to spend in their talent tree (each pet family has access to one of the three pet talent trees that will be available.)  That makes for a total of 16 points at level 80 (not 15 as most people seem to think; they're forgetting the point you get at level 80.)

This means that BM hunters will have access to 21 points.  But there obviously has to be somewhere to spend those points.  Additionally, I don't think Blizzard will have the talent trees set up in such a way that allows BM hunters to completely max their pet out, so we can probably assume that pet talent trees will have at least 26, maybe 31 points you can potentially spend in them.  The only question now is whether this will allow BM hunters to "back-fill" their pets' talents, or go deeper into the tree into some 21-point ├╝ber talents.

The other half is also really interesting.  As you should be aware, there are various beasts that are simply not tameable by hunters.  For example, there is no tameable basilisk or mana wyrm in the game, despite these being beasts.

Some have speculated that this will allow hunters to tame any mob categorised as a "beast," but I don't think that's likely.  For example, Marsh Walkers are beasts.  Now, having one of those as a pet would be so far off the "awesome scale" that we'd have to get a rocket scientist in to figure out where the needle went, but I really doubt Blizzard would allow it.

Also, notice how "Exotic" is capitalised; that makes it a proper noun which suggests that instead of the current "Tameable/Not Tameable" status of beasts, it'll become "Tameable/Not Tameable/Exotic."

None the less, whether or not this is as awesome as it sounds depends entirely on what pets Blizzard makes Exotic.  Remember that in the new system, every pet will have access to a particular talent tree and a family-unique ability.  Some ideas that spring to mind:

  • Basilisks: tanking tree, Hypnotic Gaze ability.  Depending on how long the gaze ability works, you could even make Basilisks utility pets, and have them as a form of temporary, emergency CC.

  • Hyppogryphs: dps tree, Wing Flap ability, or maybe Swoop.  And tanks think wind serpents are bad!  These could actually be pretty horrible (for the opposing team) in PvP; you could use them to knock players away from yourself if they get too close (or to throw defenders off the cliff at the Lumber Mill or the bridge in AV...)  Or if they had swoop, it'd give BM hunters a semi-frequent spell interrupt.

  • Mana Wyrms: utility tree, Mana Burn ability.  Yes, a mana-drain pet.  Just imagine the QQing that would result from caster arena teams...

There actually aren't that many pet families that aren't already tameable and aren't obviously ridiculous.  But who knows; maybe there'll be some utterly awesome pets in Northrend that only BM hunters can tame!

(Of course, it could also be pointless where all the Exotic pets are inferior to regular pets in every respect, but let's not be too negative!)

Careful Aim
Rank 3/3
Increases your ranged attack power by an amount equal to 100% of your total Intellect.

That's pretty interesting; being in the second tier of Marksmanship, it'll allow hunters to stack a bit more Intellect.  The problem is that in terms of stats, Intellect "costs" twice as much as Attack Power.  For example, for any gem that gives you +8 Intellect, you could have gotten a gem of the same quality with +16 Attack Power.  Still, even if you don't stack more Intellect, it's an extra few hundred AP.

Improved Tracking [NYI]
Rank 5/5
Increases all damage done to targets that are being tracked 5%.

This is exactly eight kinds of awesome.  That's how many things we can track.  It basically boils down to a flat 5% increase in all damage on everything except things that are invisible (which we can't really shoot anyway,) and unclassified things like bugs.

Even better, it's a first tier talent in Survival.  I'm seriously considering dropping Aimed Shot and Rapid Killing to get this puppy...

There are more talents than the above, but they're the ones that interest me as a BM-centric hunter.  If you want to play around with them, MMO Champion have a hunter talent calculator.

L33t Pet Skillz

As I said before, pets are now moving on to a talent-like system.  In addition to the three talent trees (DPS, tanking and "utility,") there is also going to be one family-specific ability for each family.  Thanks to Wowhead's WotLK subsite, I've managed to put together a list of all known family-specific pet abilities:

  • Bad Attitude - there's no apparent limit to the number of times this can happen, so I suspect this is going to work as reactive damage.  Combined with Crocolisk's +10% bonus to armor, could Blizz be intending them to be the AoE tanking pet?

  • Dust Cloud - This looks to be a pretty powerful debuff, exclusive to Tallstriders.  Averaged out, it works out to be a 12% reduction in chance to hit.

  • Gore - Now exclusive to Boars.  Sorry, Ravagers...

  • Nether Shock - Can you say "tactical deprivation of heals in arena?"  Sure, I knew you could.  At least now Nether Rays are useful!

  • Pin - Well, it's got a crab for an icon, so I assume this is what crabs are getting.  It's interesting; a combined root and dot that also roots the pet.  This could make for an interesting tanking ability for saving squishies and stopping runners.

  • Ravage - Being able to stun with your Ravager would be great for saving squishies or just legging it.  Sadly, this also means that Ravagers lose Gore.  But then, I've never been fond of the Spiky Nightmare Clowns, so I'm not terribly fussed.

  • Savage Rend - One of my mum's hunters has a pet raptor.  Named "Wally."  I just can't stop laughing at the thought of something being torn apart by a vicious raptor named Wally.

  • Serenity Dust - Something to note about this one.  It says "moth" in the tooltip.  We can't tame moths.  Well, I guess come WotLK we will be able to tame them (although whether they'll be "Exotic" or not remains to be seen.)  Aside from that, it's a pretty amazing buff; +10% AP and a 2415 HoT once every 2 minutes.  I'm not sure where this will place moths in terms of being a tanking/grinding/raiding pet though.

  • Snatch - First of all, I can see this really annoying rogues.  This is a good thing.  This is for owls, so this should make Tux (and Pike) happy.  Owls get this in exchange for losing Screech; though you can sort of think of this as a single-target version of screech...

  • Sonic Blast - Basically Ravage, except it does slightly less damage, it does nature damage instead of (presumably) physical damage, and it's icon is a bat as opposed to a gaping, blood-soaked maw.  Since there aren't any hedgehogs in WoW, I suppose this must be for bats.

  • Spore Cloud - Only does 6 DPS, but I suspect the 700 armor reduction is more the point.  It's also fairly obvious that this is for Spore Bats; this will make them pretty damned effective against casters.

  • Swipe - Aside from being another ability starting with "s," this is the family ability for Bears.  They're like baby durids!

  • Tendon Rip - Pretty simple snare; likely to be popular in PvP since the pet could potentially keep it up 30% of the time.  Pity it's only available on Hyenas...

  • Web - How I shot web?  Spider is shot web!

If I haven't mentioned a pet family, it's because it's ability is already in-game.  It looks like we're going to have way more choices for viable pets come WotLK.  It's also worth mentioning that every pet has either Dash or Dive, as well as one of Bite, Claw or Smack.

That said, Wowhead has a number of other pet abilities in their WotLK database that aren't family-exclusive:

  • Bullheaded - After having Tiddles get netted by those bloody Sunfury Archers, I say: bring it on!

  • Call of the Wild - Sadly, nothing to do with making the target run around trying to find a bathroom...

  • Carrion Feeder - Man, and I thought Cannibalise was nasty...  I mean, the health is one thing, but regenerating happiness?!  Just imagine this in PvP, though...

  • Charge - Strangely, what used to be the defining ability of boars is now available to Cats, Hyenas, Raptors, Tallstriders and Wolves... but not boars.  Poor piggies are being hit with the nerf bat pretty hard lately...

  • Dying Bite - This is the last thing you need to be worried about if you've killed my pet.

  • Heart of the Phoenix - One thing BRK has advocated before is putting points into Improved Revive Pet for high-end raiding, since losing your pet early in the fight translates to a 30% drop in DPS.  This may make that unnecessary.

  • Intervene - I'm sorry; I just can't take this ability seriously when it's using a picture of a turtle.

  • Last Stand - Remember when BRK had that big thing about not needing tanks come WotLK?  Yeah, I'm beginning to think he might have been right.  All hail the Panzer Turtle!

  • Lick Your Wounds - This + Mend Pet + Moth = Invincipet!  (Yes, I realise it's channelled; I just wanted to say "Invincipet.")

  • Rabid - The only way this could be cooler was if it actually turned your pet into a Rabbid.

  • Roar of Fortitude - A nice little buff for the melee peeps.

  • Roar of Recovery - ... Are we even going to need mana pots come WotLK?

  • Swoop - this one's for carrion birds and "undefined."  More un-announced pet families, methinks.

  • Taunt - Wow; snap aggro for pets.  Very nice.

  • Wolverine Bite - What's odd is that it only has one rank, and it's available at level 30.

We're Gonna Have To Find More Action Slots...

You may have noticed, while reading about the Hunter talents, that two abilities are mentioned several times:

  • Bear Trap - So a combination of Freezing Trap and Immolation Trap.  Plus, it's got an awesome name: Bear Trap.  As Forthus suggested, disarming a Bear Trap should trigger every Bear Traps in a 40 yard radius.

  • Kill Shot - For comparison, under normal circumstances, this does less damage (both over time and per mana) than Arcane Shot, on the same cooldown.  Against wounded targets, it does way more damage and becomes incredibly mana-efficient.  Awesome.

So that's about it for mechanical changes to our class thus far.  That said, there might still be a few surprises down the line for us considering that Hunters were one of the last classes to be worked on.  Only time will tell, but right now things are looking pretty good.


Gauntlet said...

That was a very nice breakdown -- thank you.

David said...

Wow. Another great post, thanks!