For stat geeks

There is a lot on my plate in the real world today, so this will be an abbreviated post. But I want to give a plug to a hunter who provides an excellent service to the community. Delirium over at Thrill of the Wild does not post often, but when he does it is frequently to do a lot of math heavy lifting for the rest of us. His deep dives on hunter stats over the years have helped me a lot.

If you are a math whiz, you can follow his extensive spreadsheets and testing results, and use them to make calculations for your own hunter. But if you are “math challenged” like I am, you can skip over that part and just read his bottom lines, which are written in normal and useful language.

An ongoing project of his is to break out hunter stat conversions and ability formulas, for all hunter specs as well as for pets. It is updated with each new patch and relevant hotfix. His results are all based on extensive testing, not tooltips, so they may differ from some more popular sites. I encourage you, if you have the time, to check it out. It takes a bit of dedication to get into the charts, but you are well rewarded if you do so. I was especially interested in the ability formula tables, because they tell you which abilities are affected by the spec’s most important secondary stats such as mastery or haste. For example, if you are deciding which stats to enchant or gem for, or which talents will take advantage of your current stat build, these tables can help you.

Hunter gear for each spec?

Bendak, author of the terrific Eyes of the Beast blog, has a recent post about the effects of the new mastery and haste calculations for Beast Mastery hunters. Spot on as always, if you play a hunter you should take a look at it. His main point is that if you play BM exclusively, you will be better off gemming/enchanting/selecting gear for mastery and haste than for multistrike. But if you play SV or MM and occasionally swap for BM then stay with multstrike even though you will not be optimized while in BM. My response is, we should not have to change gear to do optimal DPS in any spec.

Now, I know hunters are basically in a pretty good place these days damage-wise. (However, despite the usual cries of HUNTER OP HUNTER OP HUNTER OP, we are not OP just because we can move and shoot more or less constantly — if you wanted to shoot on the move why did you roll a mage or lock?) And while the haste/mastery changes are decent for BM hunters, I feel like Blizz has once again dealt a gotcha to us.

The whole point of playing a “pure” class as opposed to a hybrid is higher output in a variety of situations, at the expense of role versatility. In a pinch, my hunter cannot raid heal or tank (well, not really, although I did once successfully use my turtle as an off tank in Mogushan Vaults, but that’s another story). Pure DPS classes fill one role and one role only. As such, we can use an incredible array of tools to exactly tailor our damage to any situation. One of those tools is — well, should be — switch specs as necessary to bring the exact type of damage and other raid helps as needed. In doing so, we should not have to carry another set of gear just to be able to maximize the other spec.

I know some of you out there are thinking “Boohoo, more hunter QQ, welcome to my world, I’m a dual specced druid.” But there is a big difference. A druid who can play two roles is almost always going to be more versatile for a raid than a pure DPS, all other factors such as player skill being equal. To have similar utility for the raid, a pure DPS needs to be able to fine tune high damage to account for things like single target fights versus fights with many adds. This is, in my opinion, THE differentiation between pure classes and hybrids, and one that Blizz fails to grasp. A hybrid class can have one main spec that they are well geared for and play most of the time, and another completely different spec that is adequate in a pinch. This is not necessarily so for pure DPS, who are expected to put out very high damage no matter what spec they are.

Hunters are the perfect example of this concept. Most of the hunters I know have either a primary or secondary BM spec, because one key hunter utility is the variety of raid buffs provided by exotic and spirit pets. I know for myself, throughout all the pretty big WoD pendulum swings for hunters (SV sucks, MM rules, BM is average/good/not so good, oops SV is now OK in fact pretty good, MM is now average, Lone Wolf rocks, Lone Wolf is now just OK,  etc etc etc),  I always kept a BM spec. It is not my spec of choice, but I felt I could not abandon it because it provides terrific raid damage and buff utility in a wide range of situations. I practice the spec and am as skilled at it as I am with my preferred SV, I just don’t enjoy playing it. Here’s the thing: If my Raid Leader asks me to switch from SV to BM for a fight in order to bring a particular raid utility or to lessen the healing load, I should not have to explain that by doing so I will certainly do less damage just because my gear stats are not tuned for it. I am a pure DPS class, I am expected to put out max damage no matter what my spec is.

Even worse is the fact that Blizz pretty much declared all reforging to be evil evil evil, so they removed it as an option for current gear. This means, now, that the luck of the draw on gear secondary stats can dictate what spec a hunter needs to play. Get gear with multstrike, play MM or SV. Get mostly gear with mastery and/or haste, play BM. Not my choice any more, rather the choice of the RNG gods. (Don’t talk to me about the ridiculous rerolling for secondary stats — reforging to a known stat is evil but random reforging is OK, especially if you have to reroll 40-50 times to get what you want? This just has to be another award winning idea from Blizz’s Screw With the Players Department.)

So while it may look like Blizz helped BM  hunters, in the long run they nerfed the hunter class.