Class dismissed

As some of my regular readers may know, I have recently begun raiding again with a new guild — fun/alt HFC(N) runs, but that is a huge step forward from where I have been for the last 9-10 months. I am enjoying it a lot, and some of my raiding skills are starting to come back. However, I am disappointed in my damage numbers, not because of the numbers themselves, but because I know I am not maximizing my current gear/spec to what it could be.

I should by all rights be actively seeking to improve my MM hunter skills, but I am having a hard time convincing myself to put much work into doing so. I am angry, depressed, and –to be brutally honest — still pouting over the current as well as future changes to hunters. This state of mind is not conducive to  motivating me to improve my hunter skills.

To start with, I am angry that Blizz has made MM hunter the only really viable raiding spec in WoD. I was a SV hunter, loved the feel to it, had played it since Cata, and was good at it. Then Blizz completely destroyed it in 6.2, without so much as a by-your-leave or even a screw-you to those of us who loved the spec and had invested a lot of time in perfecting it.

Then Blizz proceeded to ignore BM as a spec, doing no further balancing for it, while at the same time buffing MM with talents as well as with the 4-piece tier set. In fact, they made the tier set a defacto requirement for a smooth MM rotation. Without the 4-piece, MM is a clumsy, clunky, annoying spec to play. In my opinion, that is piss-poor and lazy design. (And no, so far I only have 2 pieces, and honestly given my horrible RNG luck I am not expecting to get the full set.)

So I am already annoyed that I am more or less forced into playing MM if I wish to raid effectively. Now add the fact that anything I learn with MM now will be useless when Legion goes live. For one thing, every hunter spec will change so drastically as to be virtually three different classes instead of variations on a single class. For another, I have absolutely zero intention of continuing to play MM in Legion. And since I stubbornly refuse to play the new melee class Blizz calls “Survival hunter”, that leaves me with Beastmastery as my only possibility.

No, spending time and effort getting good at MM right now is not appealing to me at all. Oh, I will work at it a little, because my stubborn pride is still there, but my heart is not in it. In the past, whenever I worked on improving my hunter skills, I had fun doing it — I actually enjoyed the learning process, loved seeing my skills improve. (I spent days learning how to do a forward disengage, and I loved every minute of the process.) But not now. Now it will be tedious and largely futile.

I have been devouring every tiny bit of info I can find on Legion hunter specs — especially the comments from the alpha testers — and I remain very pessimistic about the future of the class I have loved since my first day in WoW. Of course, everyone hastens to point out that it is very early in the development process, and much will change before the class changes go live. To that I say horse hockey! Yes, there will be changes to fix obvious bugs, and likely a few balance tweaks, but my reading is that there are fundamental, foundational flaws in each spec that can only be fixed by a complete rewrite of the spec. Which Blizz almost certainly will not do.

I encourage you to read the alpha tester comments yourselves to see the specifics, but in comment after comment what I see are variations on the theme of “This just feels wrong.” For example, a recurring criticism of the new BM (for me, the only hunter spec I will consider playing) is that there is no player-controlled focus generator. This removes a huge amount of player choice in shot selection — it basically puts the “rote” back into rotation. It also implies there might be a significant amount of down time, like the current combat rogue complaint.

Another baseline change is that only SV hunters will be able to trap, a change that will require a complete rethink about hunters not only by hunters themselves, but also by raid leaders. Most BM and MM hunters have spent a significant amount of time honing their trapping skills, have woven them into kiting and soloing play styles, and now they must start all over again with those. This is a another change I do not see being reversed during the development process.

And not for nothin’, but why in the hell would anyone think traps would be a good idea for melee fighters? No tank I know would stand for some melee damage dealer willy-nilly dropping slow or freezing traps in a boss scrum area. Not to mention the visual clutter it will contribute to an already over-cluttered area. The spec that really needs traps is MM, because their pets have been taken away, and a robust trapping ability would have helped them while soloing. But Blizz’s response to concerns about MM soloing? “Suck it up, other classes manage without pets.” Yes, that is true, and if I wanted to do that I would have rolled one of those classes….

There are other fundamental flaws I do not see Blizz changing, such as a perceived over-reliance on RNG for MM damage interactions. One tester pointed out a huge design flaw where in several situations Arcane Shot (which applies the new Hunters Mark debuff) takes longer to arrive at the target than the GCD, so you will not know whether HM has been applied or not by the time you have to get your next shot off. There are similarly serious design flaws in the new SV spec, but I pay little attention to them because there is no way in hell I will ever play that spec again.

The point is, even though there will be minor adjustments to hunter specs, I think we are in a WYSIWYG situation with the basic feel and play styles. BM hunters were just added to the new alpha build, so there are no real test results on that spec just yet. I expect to see some in the next couple of days, and I am holding my breath that it will seem even remotely playable.

But I am not optimistic about it. If Blizz had started out in 6.2 to deliberately obliterate the hunter class, they could not have done a better job. I fully expect to be playing another class entirely in Legion, and that makes me sad beyond belief.





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 Class dismissed

  1. JC Sway says:

    Beast Mastery is just fine for raiding right now. I do great, damage-wise, and often rank higher than the two talented MM hunters in my run. I’m enjoying BM more now than I ever have. By a long shot.
    Also, I share most of your concerns about future hunters, but it is WAY too early to come to any conclusions (about MM or BM). Things will undoubtedly look very different by the time the specs launch. Try to keep an open mind-it’s better than getting upset prematurely!

    • Fiannor says:

      Clearly there is some variance. I have two hunters, both with the same gear level, both with 2 pcs of tier gear, one is BM and my main is MM. I am quite noticeably more proficient on my BM hunter than MM, yet I consistently do a significant bit more damage with MM, on the order of 5-7k dps.

      • JC Sway says:

        Well, yeah. I’m not disputing that Marks does more damage. I was saying BM does plenty of damage. If you enjoy BM more, you should be playing it. That 5-7k won’t be the reason your group struggles, especially on normal.

    • Not really. I very much doubt that Blizzard is going to change its core “fantasy” for the new specs. Even on alpha, the description of the hunter class is “a ranged damage dealer that uses a pet”. Well, that is really only true of one spec. What is a hunter now, anyway? Alpha is EXACTLY the time to bring up concerns, though in all honesty it is probably too late for anything major to change at this point.

      I have played WoW for 10 years, and I have had a hunter for all of these years. I have always liked Beast Mastery because of the focus on pets, it’s why a hunter appealed to me after all. I do not like the “new” BM at all, as Fiannor says there is no control over the spawned pets. Personally when I hear beast mastery I imagine a hunter with a very strong with one (or a handful) of animals, not someone who continually summons random nameless “Beast”. Perhaps build on the idea that the pet brings strong buffs, or give the hunter and pet abilities that they can execute together, like some kind of superpet. As it is, I don’t like the other two specs because I want to a) have a pet and b) be ranged, so my choice is removed. And I don’t like where they are going with BM, so my only choice is to not play my hunter. And that makes me sad.

      • Fiannor says:

        I think you put your finger on it — Blizz’s “fantasy” for the hunter class does not mesh with mine, or yours, or a lot of current hunters. Worse, it diverges wildly from what has been their own implicit class fantasy for years. Like you, to me the essence of a hunter is as a highly mobile ranged damage dealer with a controllable pet. Taking away any of those factors means — to me — some class other than hunter. You end up with SV being a warrior with a pet, and MM being a physical damage-dealing mage. Had I wanted either the warrior or mage play style, I would have rolled one of those classes.

        I think the Legion BM will still have one classic controllable pet, but the artifact-produced one does not appear to be very controllable. And don’t get me started on the MM talent that calls up some sort of undead spectral “pet” for a few seconds, that is an insult to every true hunter.

        I agree that alpha is exactly the time to raise concerns, though as you point out and I alluded to, it is already probably too late to change what I and many other hunters feel are the foundational shifts in hunter play. I stand by my opinion that the hunter class will no longer exist in Legion, that Blizz has destroyed it and replaced it with something they still call a hunter class, but which bears no resemblance to it at all.

        I used this allegory once before: A guy goes into an antique shop where he sees an axe for sale. The store proprietor tells him it is very valuable, it is the axe George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree. The guy is dubious, says it looks kind of new to be that old. The proprietor says, “Well, naturally over the years the head and handle have had to be replaced, but I guarantee you it is George Washington’s axe.”

        Blizz is replacing every part of the hunter class and still trying to pass it off as “hunters”.

  2. dutch BM hunter says:

    Well 5years back i made my hunter because i fell in love of the spirit beast i have seen outside Goldshire and went for BM. It was before Cata came out. From that time and still now i play as BM Hunter in all the raids. And yes BM was not always the nr1 dps but u can still do a lot of dps. Iam now ilvl 724 and ring at 786. The guild and guys i do the HFC raids now did ask me for MM but i say noway i play MM i love my pets. Now they wont ask me because they know what a good BM can do hell MM Hunters die faster then BM Hunters lol. And somtimes i use my pet as tank when they are on a res cooldown(spirit beast and scale spiders are best tanks). So for me BM still rock if u know how to play it. Greethings from a dutch BM Hunter

    • Fiannor says:

      Greetings! yeah, that is where I will be in Legion. I will play only a BM hunter, regardless of the relative balances/damage of the various specs. Where I got turned around in WoD is when SV disintegrated as a viable/playable spec. I went down the road as MM on my main because I had to switch from SV, and I had played MM while leveling a long time ago, so I said what the heck. Unfortunately, now that I have gone down that path — due in part to the influence of secondary gear stats, I feel like it is not worth it to switch to BM now for a few months until everything changes yet again in Legion. But I think you are smart to say to heck with it, I play BM so take me as I am!

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