Proc you!

A forum post caught my eye yesterday, and without a trace of sarcasm I can say it really tugged at my heart strings. Some poor hunter had been tracking Arcturis, the spirit bear, for years. Finally he comes upon this coveted pet, no one else in sight, and he casts Tame Beast, heart pounding.

Then one of his trinkets procs and kills Arcturis.

The player describes himself as “pissed”. Yeah, I think that choice of phrase shows admirable restraint. Speaking as someone who also hunted Arcturis for years, I can absolutely feel his pain. This bear has a long spawn time — I don’t know what it is, but it has to be close to 12-18 hours. He spawns in a tiny area near Amberpine Lodge in Grizzly Hills. And, of course, since he is a sought-after prize, there are often other hunters there (many from other realms, thank you CRZ) as well as despicable players whose only goal is to kill him and deny him to hunters. The only way I was ever able to get him is, to be blunt, pure dumb luck. I do not have the patience to actually camp rares, so for years I would visit the spawn area at random times 3-4 times a week, and finally one time there he was. My heart was pounding, and I was terrified I would screw it up with a mistimed auto shot or some other blunder, but all went well and he was finally mine. If one of my trinkets had suddenly proc’ed and killed him, I would have been far more than “pissed”!

At any rate, this unfortunate player quite rightly felt robbed by Blizz, so he put in a ticket. Still, his mind had clearly been affected by the traumatic experience if he actually expected assistance in righting this obvious bug. Because what he got from the GM was a slightly-more-polite version of “Oopsie we should fix this, meanwhile sucks to be you! Just go tame it again. Have a nice day.” To add insult to injury, he actually got a Blue response when he posted his experience in the forum, and the idiot Blue blithely said the equivalent of “My, that’s unfortunate. Next time take off all your gear first. Problem solved!”

I guaran-damn-tee you if the problem was a mage sheeping something and it triggered a damage proc, Blizz’s response to mages would not be, “Take off all your gear before you sheep a target.”

The first thing that hits me about this is — once again — there seems to be no one at Blizz with enough understanding of hunters or the hunter experience to give even a half-assed empathetic response. The responses were about as tone-deaf as someone cheerily telling you “Well, you can get another one,” in response to hearing that your beloved cat or dog died — zero regard for the depth of emotion you are experiencing.

Blizz, I double-dog dare you to name one dev in this game who actually mains a hunter, has done so for any length of time, and has a voice in influencing hunter class development. Prove me wrong and I will happily and publicly eat my words. 

The Tame Beast spell for hunters is basically a modified damage spell, or probably more accurately a variation on a cc spell. When it is cast,  you see a sort of reverse damage bar. It generates aggro, but instead of seeing a target’s health go down, you see a “love bar” with little hearts emanating from it. When the bar fills, your taming is complete and the animal switches from a hostile mob attacking you to a standard hunter pet.

There are some number of these “nice” spells in the game, these pseudo-cc spells. They certainly are common enough to be routinely factored in when contemplating new damage-dealing processes. But there seems to be no organized mechanism for staffing/brainstorming significant changes to discover conflicts. When Blizz decided to add trinket damage auto-procs to gear, any dev who was familiar with the class of spells like Tame Beast should certainly have raised a red flag. Did the gear developers talk to the spell developers? I do not know of course, but it seems like they did not. They just went ahead and put in a bunch of these damage-proccing trinkets, conflicts be damned.

This was a completely foreseeable conflict. By saying “Just take off all your gear before you tame anything” Blizz is telling us, “Yeah, we actually didn’t do a thorough development job on these, but you should absolutely be familiar with our shortcomings and take steps to avoid the problems we introduced.”

Late edit. Hotfixes for Dec 14, published late last night, indicate Blizz is testing this fix: “Tame Beast will no longer trigger trinket procs, such as Caged Horror”.  I am glad they are actually fixing this, but it does not change my opinion of their dev process. Basically they would never have done anything about this if someone had not made a pretty big stink about it, in spite of the fact that the bug has existed for a very long time now, was entirely predictable, and had indeed been noted by other hunters.

Which brings up my final point: do you have any idea how all your procs interact, or for that matter do you even know what they all are? I am betting less than a fraction of a percent of players do. I know I don’t. There are so many it is virtually impossible to know when they have activated, much less make intelligent decisions about a rotation to take them into account.

It’s one thing for a piece of gear to have an uncontrolled random passive effect like temporarily increasing a primary stat or enhancing crit rate or giving you an absorb, but it is entirely something else to have gear that randomly — and uncontrollably — sends out damage. I don’t care how many of the latter Blizz has implemented in Legion, they owe it to players to have done their homework and anticipated — and fixed — obvious problems before they go live with them.

Collectively, these random-proccing pieces of gear result in a significant loss of player control, which I suppose is in keeping with the new Blizz slogan, “Bring the class, not the player.” Obviously, I am not a big fan of having my gear decide for itself when damage will be unleashed, I kind of feel like that is my job.  I like it even less when the gear’s decision to act overrides and in some cases negates my conscious decisions in the game.

With that cranky tirade, it is time to start the weekend.

The patch is upon us

Well. At last we are truly into it. As you know unless you have been spending the last few weeks in a cave somewhere, the Legion pre-patch goes live with the reset this week, which means Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning in the U.S. I have to admit, I am more than ready for a change. Even if I am not happy about all the details of the change, sometimes you just need to do something different. It has been 13 months since we last had a major patch. Too long.

I spent the weekend squeezing out the last few bits of gold from my garrison and shipyard missions, leveling up my rogue’s new gathering profession of herbalism to 700, and just having some fun with my main hunter doing some instances and fun runs with my guild.

While gathering herbs in Pandaria, I stumbled upon Gumi, one of the spirit beasts from that patch. I quickly logged off my rogue and on to my hunter, got myself to the area and tamed this quirky porcupine pet. It is one of three spirit porcupines from Mists, the other two being Hutia and Dengu. In truth, they are not that hard to camp, as they spawn quite frequently,  and usually (maybe always?) at the same time, so I traveled around and got all three of them in the space of about 15 minutes. With my taming of Skoll and Arcturis a couple of months ago, along with a few other spirit and rare beasts I have tamed over the years, I am collecting a fair stable of spirit beasts. Nothing like some of the really dedicated hunters have, but possibly approaching respectable. I am thinking I will level with Arcturis in Legion, although it is very tempting to go with Terrorpene. I think the visuals make for nice symmetry questing with a turtle when hunters have the new Aspect of the Turtle that replaces Deterrence. And honestly, the pet nerfs for 7.0 are so severe that the only real factor in selecting a hunter pet now is the cosmetic effect, I am very sad to say.

This evening I will do my last few garrison missions, give my followers their pink slips, and start to make a couple of changes to my hunter gear to account for changing from Marksman to Beastmastery. Mainly this will mean unloading as much Crit and Multistrike as I can and loading up on Haste and Mastery. I am not going to do a huge gear change, because it is just not worth it when we will all get new gear as we level in Legion. But I will change out my trinkets, as some of the major ones from HFC will not be all that useful any more. (I will not be sad to get rid of my Mirror of the Blademaster — while it has been very effective, I really am not a fan of the visual for it.) And I will reroll the secondary stats on my three pieces of crafted gear.

Some of our community’s best hunters have published a couple of terrific getting started guides for your hunter in Patch 7. Check out Azortharion’s guide here on Icy Veins class columns (for the hunter spec you are interested in), and Bendak’s guides on his blog and on the column he writes for Blizzard Watch. There is a wealth of information in them that should help you if you are unsure of how to start getting familiar with all the hunter changes. These two hunters have really done the community a great service by getting these guides out in time for the pre-expansion patch.

I expect tomorrow most of my game time will be spent clearing out all the gear clogging up my bank and void storage slots, and if there is more time available to me I will get my new hunter action bars set up. Not sure if the addons I use — like Weakauras and Shadowed Unit Frames — will be ready to go or not, but if so, then there will be some reconfig necessary there also. I definitely want my hunter ready to go when the first Demon invasion hits.

I’ll reconfigure my alts over the course of the next week or so as time permits. And I feel like I will have significantly more time available, because I will stop doing all my garrison duties effective tomorrow. I’ll probably just not collect my mine and herb garden work orders and leave them where they are, just in case at some point in the future I need to quickly grab a couple of WoD mats. For now, I have plenty stockpiled, and I have already sold off the excess, so I think I am in good shape there.

Here’s hoping the pre-patch rollout goes smoothly. I probably will not write tomorrow, so see you on the other side!

Skoll!

Skoll

WOOOHOOO!

As I’ve written before, I am not a dedicated pet hunter on any of my hunter alts. I like them, I always try to have a good assortment available for raid buffs, I even form nice warm virtual bonds with some of them, but I don’t really have the patience to stalk a particular one for hours or days at a time. Having said that, though, I do have a real thing for wolves and worgs as hunter pets. So when Skoll became available back in 4.2 or whenever the special rare spirit beasts were introduced, I wanted him.

But, as I said, I lack the patience to camp for hours at a time day after day. This is true if I am alone in a zone, but it is even more true if there are several hunters camping the same pet I am, because I know even if I get lucky enough for it to spawn the chances of me taming it in a crowd are next to zero. So even though I really really wanted Skoll, he eluded me for years. When I would see other hunters with him, I went out of my way to compliment them on getting him, and I was inevitably envious.

My technique to find him has been to faithfully visit Storm Peaks a couple of times a week, at varying times of the day or night, scope out each of the three areas Skoll spawns in, and do that for maybe an hour or sometimes even two, in the hopes that I will get lucky. For years this technique has yielded nothing. I had come to accept that I would never get Skoll because of my combination of bad luck and impatience.

Well, as you can tell from the screen shot above, yesterday I just plain got lucky. I was cruising into Storm Peaks for one of my weekly fly-bys. I flew over the (30.2, 64.6) smallest spawn area and glanced at it in passing, basically on my way to one of the larger spawn areas. I had my hunter beast tracking on, and I saw a yellow dot on my mini-map. (I always thought Skoll would show up, if I ever saw him, as a red dot.) Assuming it was one of those birds in the area, I moused over it anyway and saw it was labeled “Skoll”.  My heart stopped for a couple of seconds, after which it began to hammer away at a rate way too fast for my advanced age, and I looked down to see Skoll just meandering about. All alone, no horde trolls or other hunters anywhere to be seen. I landed, dismounted, targeted him and did a quick tap of my Tame Beast button, and he was mine in just a few seconds.

I still can’t believe it.

I did not agonize much over naming. It just felt wrong, after years of chasing him, to take away the name I have known him by for so long. He remains Skoll.

Still, as over-the-top giddy as I am about finally taming him, there is a slight bittersweet tinge to it. The feeling reminds me of Old Bob. When I was a kid, we lived on a trout stream and I grew up fly fishing. I was controlling a fly rod and vast amounts of line from the time I was about 6 or 7, and I could lay a fly down exactly where I wanted it, with exquisite delicacy, before I was 10. I never knew there was any other way to fish until well into my teens.

Anyway, below an undercut bank in one of the stream’s fast water riffles there was rumored to be a Rainbow trout that had been there for years, which some fishermen claimed to have hooked and lost and swore it went 20 lbs if it went an ounce. The trout was known as Old Bob — I have no idea why — and his name became legend in the area. When I was about 15 my grandfather — who had dreamed for years of landing this elusive, wily trout — finally caught him, using a plain old trimmed Adams dry fly and one-pound test leader on a tapered floating line. (Official final fish weight was 22.3 lbs.) He was whooping, elated, giddy, and he became an instant local celebrity, telling and retelling the story of his 40-minute battle with the fish. (Over the years, it morphed into a two-hour battle, but never mind, I can still recount it word for word today.) But he was also a little sad, and as he said to me later that day, “Now what? Old Bob’s gone.”

So yeah, I am thrilled to finally get Skoll, but now what? I suppose I could set my sights for Arcturis. I wouldn’t mind having him in my stable, but in my brain he is no Skoll. And I still want the fire turtle from Hyjal. So I guess I do have a couple left to get. Whew!

Still, bittersweet or not, it is great to finally have him. Think how cool it will look — if Hati retains the Skoll skin we are seeing in alpha — to have matching electric blue wolves  as a BM hunter in Legion.

WOOOOHOOOOOO!