New play styles

A few days ago, at the suggestion of someone I respect, I decided to just bite the bullet and switch my main hunter to Marksman spec, even though I said I would never do it. It hasn’t been an easy transition so far, either mechanically or psychologically. And as if that weren’t trauma enough, last night I rolled a new brewmaster panda.

The hunter change has been more dramatic than I expected it to be. I mean that in both a good way and a bad way. I first tried it with a pet, taking Focusing Shot as my Tier 7 talent. My initial practices, unbuffed, at the target dummies yielded 3-4k improvement over my best Beastmastery efforts and a good 7-8k improvement over the sad Survival spec. And this was with me really not having a clue how to play MM.

Trying a few Apexis bonus areas was “interesting.” After weeks of mindlessly blasting through them as BM, I found I had to actually *gasp* be a little more careful as MM, since my pet has less power and I have more. Meant I had to actually key bind my MD-to-Pet macro and spam it, else I felt in danger of getting overwhelmed with my normal 15-20 mobs. Since MM has pretty puny AoE, I found myself relying more on things like my zone artillery strikes and some of the engineer-produced explosive gizmos. I also found I really missed the instant gratification of spamming Arcane Shot to dump focus.

In general, it was hard for me to start to wrap my brain around the idea of a hunter having to stand still a lot and wind up most shots. (As a minor aside, I was slightly annoyed that the tool tips refer to the wind up time for shots as “cast” time. Hunters are not/not casters. The fact that devs are content to use such language in tool tips indicates to me that they really do not understand the hunter class very well.) Not counting Kill Shot, our only real MM instant shot is the signature one, Chimaera Shot, and being it is a signature shot it has a 9-second cooldown. Both Aimed Shot and the focus-resto shot have a greater than 2-second shot wind up time. It feels tedious and slow.

I had gotten used to Focusing Shot when I used it for my SV hunter, and I did not find the stand still requirement for it to be limiting. But when combined with the Sniper Training requirement, I feel very restricted. Mind you, I don’t know if MM actually is more restrictive, since Sniper Training is fairly generous in its movement allowance, but I know that I was conscious of the requirement and consequently felt as if my feet were nailed to the ground. Add in the lack of instant shots, and I felt like I was playing my destro lock, except without the decent AoE.

I did not feel like I was playing a hunter.

Still, my damage was noticeably improved. Even more so when I took Lone Wolf instead of Focusing Shot for my Tier 7 talent. But again, much of my hunter identity is tied up in my pet, and not having one felt just wrong somehow. But the damage increase is undeniable.

Bottom line is that I will undoubtedly feel more comfortable with MM as a spec the longer I play it, and the better I get the more damage I will do, but I doubt if it will ever feel “huntery” to me. I am pretty sure I will go back to SV or even BM as soon as Blizz decides to make either of those viable again.

Regarding my new panda, I had fun doing the initial leveling in the Panda starting area. I had forgotten what a fun story that is. It’s too bad you can’t go back there once you leave it, just like it’s too bad worgen can’t go back to Gilneas.

I decided to level a new melee class rather than respec one of my hybrids, because I think it will be easier to play if I grow with it as I level. I have tried switching my mistweaver to use its windwalker secondary, but I find it a tad overwhelming at level 100.

I don’t know if I am psychologically suited to tanking, but it has always seemed to me to be the most challenging group role, so I thought if I tried it in some low level instances as I level it might be a bit less intimidating than jumping in at level 90 or 100. Pretty sure I have been in some groups with tanks who have done just that, and it is not fun. Honestly, the thing I am most worried about is getting lost, as my sense of direction is really horrible! I have spent my game life following tanks, either as a deeps or as a healer, and I frequently get lost if we wipe and I have to run back. So I foresee a lot of study even at very low levels before I subject a group to my baby tank.

In the big picture, though, it’s good to challenge yourself, shake things up every once in a while. Even if neither of my new play styles pans out for me in the long run, it’s fun to try.




About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

7 Responses to New play styles

  1. Grumsta says:

    I was wryly amused reading your post, as the only Hunter class I’d played was MM. Having played a mage, MM still feels very mobile to me, but I know what you mean about it being a physical caster class. When I play solo I always have my tanking pet out, but in raids I’m always in LW mode. The amount of damage I do in LFR raids is embarrasing frankly, and says more about my class, gear and ilvl than it does about me as a player. I’m simply not that good: just ask my RL! 😀

    I only set up BM off-spec on Sunday specifically so I could tame Gara. I’ve been grinding T2 relentlessly and I now have the Pathfinder acheivement, so I rewarded myself with a little downtime and change of pace.

    I suppose the Gara quest is just an Easter Egg of sorts, but I loved doing it. I stayed in BM the whole time and I’m doing about 2/3 my usual dps when I’m MM with my pet, so I don’t think that’s too shabby.

    I’m so used to standing still to cast having played mage & MM for so long (well, for me: I’ve not been playing WoW for 2 years yet) that I have to remind myself to move and kite more with my BM. Liberating, isn’t it?

    It’s good that the two flavours of hunter I’ve tried feel so different. So kudos to Blizz for that, but big thumbs down for forcing players to use MM for raids. I chose MM because everyone else was playing SV and BM (I like to be different) and I’d like everyone else to have a real choice too.

    I’ve been forced to switch from Fire mage to Arcane mage and I feel exactly the same way you do about SV. The good news for me is that I’m really enjoying playing Arcane now, I hope you find the same enjoyment with MM. Topping the LFR dps charts should put a smile on your face anyway 😉

    • Fiannor says:

      People approach their classes differently and develop their own play style. For me, the most fun I can have as a hunter is being constantly on the move, running, jumping, strafing, disengaging, challenging myself to never miss a shot all the while. Plus I love the added flexibility a pet gives me for things like protecting healers, breaking people out of CC, even stepping in as an emergency tank once in awhile. MM takes all that away, which is why I don’t like playing it. I am glad that spec exists for people who enjoy it, because you should have a choice, but as you point out, Blizz has corrupted the class so badly that there really is not a choice for responsible raiders.

      And I agree with you, the Gara quest line was a fun break. Although I am pretty sure I would have never figured it out on my own, so hats off to Bendak and the other dedicated hunters who did all the heavy lifting on it for the rest of us.

  2. And back again.
    BM and Surv just got a big buff.
    I spent a LOT of time and gold and resources to re-shape my BM hunter to Marks — unbelievable.

    • Fiannor says:

      I am right with you there, although it remains to be seen whether or not those buffs will be enough to make the specs truly viable again. I have my doubts that a simple numbers plus-up for a couple of shots will fix the huge underlying balance problems, especially for SV. It seems like another band-aid fix by devs who have completely written off this entire expansion and are basically waiting for the the next one to do anything meaningful.

      • Jarnow says:

        Naturally, they buffed SV the very day *after* I finally got done respeccing and tweaking my WeakAuras. But by all indications I’ve seen, SV is still well behind the other two specs, so it would seem I didn’t waste my time (the phrase “finally more DPS than the tank” is one I’ve been seeing in reaction to the change).

  3. Casually Odd says:

    I can’t add much to the hunter discussion since I haven’t played my hunters in a month or more. I’ve been using my limited time to work on my Pathfinder achievement. Plus, since I’m not a raider I choose mainly based on character. Which means some are better in LFR than others but I have fun.

    What I really wanted to comment on is the pandaran and worgen starting areas (goblin too). The plus side of those areas is a more in depth story than in any of the older areas. Blizzard wanted to tell a story based on those races and they did. The downside is that it is on very strict rails and if you want to get out into the world, you’ll do these quests in this order every time. It’s one of the reasons I have very few of those races. I enjoyed the story enough, but I like being able to start questing in a different area if I choose.

    As to tanking, I want to have a high level tank (and healer) but I need to build up one of my lower level characters to get there. I’m also a more conservative tank, so I’m sure the “gogogo” crowd that populates LFD/LFR would hate me.

    Oh well, I’ll get my characters up there someday soon.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yes, I can see where both areas would get pretty boring after a couple of characters. Both are pretty thin in terms of development. Luckily this was only my second ever panda, the first one was way back at the start of Mists. And I only have one Worgen.

      I spent a few hours with my new tank today, got to level 21, and actually tanked two instances (Deadmines and Ragefire Chasm). I was nervous as can be, spent about 30 minutes preparing for each. But they went fine, no wipes, no one complained, I kept high threat most of the time and also managed to do a lot of damage. Whew.

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