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.

Wait, what?

On Monday I wrote about Blizz’s surprising announcement of planned baseline improvements to BM hunters. Basically, I was encouraged because the changes addressed two of the most fundamental problems with BM mechanics — problems that had been identified and quantified as early as the alpha testing phase, and problems Blizz had stubbornly ignored for all of Legion. However, I cautioned that the changes were so significant that there would almost certainly be some power nerfs to the spec, and we would have to see what those turned out to be.

Lo and behold, within hours of that post, Bendak over at Eyes of the Beast broke the news detailing the first round of “tuning changes” designed to compensate for the new baseline abilities. You can read Bendak’s post for the details, but they are pretty brutal. As Bendak points out, and I completely agree, it is somewhat early in the process, and this is a first cut at balancing the new BM power structure, so no need to panic just yet.

Nevertheless, what we have seen time and again with Blizz in Legion development is that their final cut is frequently only slightly different than their first cut. They suffer from a strong anchoring bias, rendering them incapable of significant change once embarked on a course of action, even if that course of action is determined early in a testing phase. Too often for Blizz, FD=FD (first draft equals final draft). I do not know if this is due to constraints of resources or of mental agility, but the end result is that terrible ideas — even if beta or PTR testers point them out — often make it into live versions. Thus, while I am not yet in panic mode over the BM tuning adjustments, I am definitely starting to worry.

Two aspects of these changes puzzle me. One is the nerf to tier gear. As it currently stands, Bendak points out that the T20 gear will be worse than the T19 gear, and in fact the best way to incorporate it will be to equip basically 6 pieces of tier gear — some mix of T19 and T20. This is insane, in my opinion.

Such a move is a continuation of Blizz’s abysmal morass of gear in Legion, where it is frequently impossible to know if a piece of higher level gear is an upgrade or not without consulting web sites and running complex simulations. How in the hell did we get into this situation anyway? Remember when Blizz was so solicitous of our tiny brains that they removed reforging because it was too mathy? They didn’t want gear to be “complicated”.

HAHAHAHA! Good one, Blizz, we totally fell for that.

And now we are at the point where an actual piece of legendary gear may or may not be an upgrade, where ilevel is often meaningless, where in some cases secondary stats are more important than primary ones, and apparently soon where new tier gear is actually worse than the older stuff. And the mechanisms for weighing the relative values of gear are so complex that it takes sophisticated computer programs to decide.

Here’s an idea, Blizz: If it’s higher level gear, it should be an upgrade. Period. 

In complex systems, components are intricately interrelated, often beyond what a human brain can comprehend in any detail. WoW is an enormously complex system. The pattern I see in Blizz development is that their systems engineers and coders almost certainly understand this, but their class designers are only dimly aware of it. Thus, they happily redesign class structures nearly every expansion, then seem genuinely puzzled and surprised when it causes huge problems reflected in gear and in overall power balance in game activities ranging from PvP to raids to nearly every other activity. To compensate, they spend most of every expansion tweaking (sometimes mega-tweaking) numbers and adding bandaid gear fixes, until the whole system comes to some state of very delicate balance — usually by the end of the expansion. Sometimes they find they have painted themselves into a corner, and they write big problems off as unfixable, regardless of the effect such action may have on players. (Thinking SV hunters in WoD here.) Then, having learned nothing, they start the entire process again for a new expansion.

I think this partially explains why we are in such a terrible place with gear in Legion. Adding new gear, or tinkering with stats in sought after pieces like legendaries or tier, has to be easier than reworking fundamental class/spec mechanics once an expansion goes live. Certainly for hunters we have seen Blizz use gear to try and fix baseline problems. Remember the 4-piece tier for MM hunters in WoD — it was what made the spec at least playable though still not really enjoyable. Similarly, the legendary shoulders were introduced in Legion to try and fix the clunky unresponsive BM play style. These were problems players identified early on in test phases, but Blizz refused to address them at that point, apparently being too anchored to them to even consider moving away from them. Then, when live versions proved players right, Blizz seemed surprised and tried all sorts of complicated bandaids to fix what could have been more elegantly addressed in test phases.

So here we are yet again — devs deciding that BM hunters were actually right way back in alpha testing, that something like two charges to Dire Beast/Dire Frenzy is absolutely needed to breathe some fun into the spec. They tried to fix it with a piece of gear, but then they made that gear an extremely rare drop, thereby punishing every hunter unlucky enough to not get it. Having decided that all BM hunters should have this ability, they then announced that it would be baseline in 7.2.5. So far, so good.

But I said, there are two puzzling aspects to Blizz’s brutal nerf to BM hunters, and the second is this:

If Blizz was fine with some hunters having the legendary shoulders and therefore getting the perk of 2 charges for DB/DF, why are they now distraught at the prospect of every BM hunter having the perk, so much so that they must apply draconian nerfs to the entire spec? The power increase with two charges is significant, no argument there, but why was it okay for some lucky hunters to have that additional power but it is unacceptable for all to have it?

We all expected Blizz to extract payment from hunters for “giving” us something we should have had all along. It is what they do. (Remember the great flying crisis in WoD.) Still, these particular types of payments make no sense to me whatsoever.

One of those days

Something about the best-laid plans… My plan this morning had been to bring my car in to the dealer for service and write my post while waiting for it. After all, they have free wifi and a decent waiting room, free coffee and muffins, and all that.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Silly me.

First, it turns out nearly every site I use for material is on some sort of black list for the dealer’s network. When I asked, I got some sort of half-assed vague response about “no computer gaming” allowed. Unfortunately whoever manages the dealer’s network is apparently very ham-handed, so any site with certain key words in it are blocked. This means I have no access to WoW forums, certain reddit groups, Wowhead, not even to MMO-C nor to a couple of independent blog sites.

*grrrr*

Second, I guess I did not realize that today is bring-your-brats-to-the-dealer day. There is a woman in here waiting for a vehicle, and she brought along two of the worst-behaved children I have ever seen. I am used to pre-school kids running and squealing and generally just being kids, but these two are pulling all the magazines off the racks, throwing the provided toys at each other and the rest of the customers, running and screeching at the tops of their lungs, pushing the chairs around incessantly, using the coffee cups to build towers on the floor, and just generally being uncivilized little sh*theads. All while their mother ignores them, along with the multitude of dirty looks the rest of us are directing at her.

*sigh*

Where I am going with this cranky rant is, there will not be much of a post today. I can recommend a couple of interesting ones from some fellow bloggers, however. One is from one of my favorites, Delirium over at The Thrill of the Wild. He has some non-obvious observations about effects of legendaries in the current game and in 7.2 going forward. As usual, he has done the math heavy lifting for us and gives us the bottom line in language even the math-challenged like me understand.

Legendaries as they were implemented in Legion were a huge mistake. Even Blizz admits that. Unfortunately, rather than do something drastic to cut their losses and move on, they have insisted on tweaking them, and the result is they still are a huge “un-balancer” for nearly every class and spec. In my opinion, what they should have done when they discovered how badly they had messed up is this:

  • Remove all spec-specific armor legendaries from the game. For those who already had them, replace them with a standard piece of armor at say, 890 level. Would people have howled? Of course, but hey welcome to a world where Blizz can pull the rug out from under you in a heartbeat, not that I am bitter about Legion hunters or anything. Deal with it.
  • Limit the remaining jewelry type legendaries to maybe a ring, a neck, and a trinket flavor, each one configured like Chipped Soul Prism from Kazzak in WoD — primary stat that varies according to your class/spec, along with some of every  secondary stat. If you had gotten anything else, it would be auto-changed into one of these.

Anyway, read Delirium’s post — if you thought legendaries don’t make a huge difference, this will make you think again. In Legion, they have reduced one aspect of the game to lucky lottery winners and unlucky losers.

In the “would you please just shut up and not get people riled up about this again” category, take a look at a Blizzard Watch post on — yes, you guessed it — the subject of flying …. I am absolutely not going there again, and I hope none of you are either, but I guess some people just love trolling. If you feel compelled to vent your spleen on the subject, please reply to Blizzard Watch, not here.

Last, if you have a couple of minutes, take a gander at Marathal’s short post with some thoughts on Midwinter’s recent announcement that they are stepping down from world-first raiding competition. He doesn’t reach any grand conclusions, but he offers some good jumping-off points for further cogitation.

I take that back — this is actually the last: I miss The Grumpy Elf. I am frankly tired of being the only grumpy person writing about this game, and I don’t do it nearly as well as he did. Grumpy, if you are still reading about the game, please consider coming back to write about it, too.

Shane! Grumpy! Come back, Shane Grumpy!

Class balance revelations

Late breaking edit: Hell has frozen over. Blizz CM Ornyx has opened a forum thread soliciting comments on hunter changes. (Also one on Warlock changes, I think.) Head over there and make your opinions known. I am not going to go into why Blizz has ignored hunter pleas for months, and now wants to hear them again, as if this is news to them…. It may all come to nothing, but we should still give it a try.

During the recent Gamescom 2016, WoW Assistant Game Director Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas granted some in-depth interviews, covering most aspects of Legion. MMO-C has posted videos and text summaries of them:

I’ve written some of my impressions from these so far, and today I’d like to take up the subject of class balance. Watcher gave us what is, I think, the most insight we have yet had on the tumultuous upheavals for many classes in Legion. This is not to say he went so far as to be actually forthcoming on the subject, but he at least dropped a couple of tidbits that help us to put the changes into some context.

Pruning. That dreaded word. After spending a couple of expansions focusing on (mostly) adding to class abilities, Blizz reversed course in WoD and Legion and embarked on a program of cutting the very abilities they had added, plus a few more. In some cases, they pruned a class spec but then added in some features that resulted in a more complex and thus interesting play style — combat/outlaw rogue is an example (just my opinion, those of you who main a rogue may disagree). In other cases, they pruned a spec and did not add in anything else, resulting in something an above-average carrot could easily play — of course the prime example of this is BM hunter. Then, of course, there were some classes and specs that, while not escaping all change, were pretty much left alone, at least in Legion — mages, of course, because they are untouchable, and druids come to mind.

In the Fatboss interview, Watcher discussed the Great Pruning Massacres of WoD and Legion at some length, and I found his comments to be somewhat of a mixed message, but ultimately unsettling. On the one hand he said that adding abilities to classes, as happened prior to WoD, was a bad thing because it resulted in “homogeneous” classes, such that the only thing a group leader would need to look for would be, for example, a “ranged DPS”. On the other hand, he said that one reason to prune anything, like a plant in your garden, is to give it room to grow, implying that eventually Blizz will return to adding new abilities back in to classes.

The best interpretation I can come up with for this is that Blizz has abandoned the concept of “Bring the player, not the class”. Watcher’s comments seem to point to a goal of making every class — no, make that “every spec” — fit a specific niche, and any eventual “un-pruning” will add in certain niche abilities. He said that a desirable goal is for a raid leader to seek out “a good hunter” rather than a good ranged DPS. (He ignored the fact that hunters are now for all practical purposes 3 different classes, and it makes a pretty big difference which spec is included in a raid. But then, as I have said before, no one at Blizz pays much attention to hunters any more except as a convenient stereotype.)

Well. Talk about your complete philosophical turnarounds. As it is a virtual certainty that Blizz will design raid bosses and wings with heavy emphasis on specific types of mechanics, it would seem we are destined to return to the days of selecting raid members on the basis of spec first, skill second.

The good news is that this will not significantly impact most guild raiding, because Normal and Heroic raids are flex, so it is relatively easy to accommodate one or two less-than-optimal specs for any given boss. Also, most casual or semi-casual guilds worth their salt do not bench competent players in order to stack a raid with “the best” specs for the fight.

The bad news is that this will probably have the biggest negative impact on damage dealers who rely on the Premade Group Finder for their raiding, especially those specs that are perceived as low-performing or as not bringing anything of value to the group. (Looking at you, all you BM hunters out there.) Now, in addition to having to meet often-ridiculous gear level requirements, a potential pug DPS will also have to be an approved spec to qualify. This is not encouraging for anyone whose spec appears at the bottom of some of the sim lists.

Side rant on spec “uniqueness”: I realize that hybrid classes have had to deal with group role pickiness for quite some time, which is somewhat akin to the upcoming spec preferences for DPS. But for the most part this has worked in favor of hybrid classes. For one thing, they have the option of queuing for roles in demand, such as healer or tank, which usually grants them expedited acceptance if they meet the other group requirements. And they have the added beneficial option of setting their loot spec to whichever spec they want to gear up. So, for example, if a balance/resto druid is trying to gear up their moonkin, they can still get into a pug as a healer and get moonkin gear. That is not true for the so-called “pure” DPS classes. Yes, they can “select” a loot spec but it makes absolutely zero difference in the gear they get, since primary stat and gear type is all that is considered. (Not even sure why loot spec is an option for pure DPS players, it seems kind of like the faux thermostat in offices that give workers the illusion of temperature control but in reality the thing is not even hooked up.)

I predict what we will see for the Premade Group Finder is this situation: eventually Blizz will change the queue filters to reflect a player’s spec as well as class when they apply, thereby relieving the group leader of having to ask which spec potential damage dealers are, since specs are now so differentiated. I can’t imagine most group leaders, for example, just blindly accepting a hunter — even with high gear level — without knowing at least if he is melee or ranged. So it is almost inevitable that the Group Finder will sooner or later start to reflect a player’s spec (not just role selection). For pure damage dealers, this further handicaps them, because they will then have the disadvantages of a hybrid class (sorry, we need a different spec) without the compensation of being able to queue and play with the “desired” spec and still get gear for their main spec — because Blizz considers all pure DPS gear to be equal across a class.

It is high time that Blizz consider secondary stats the same as they consider primary ones (like agility, strength, etc.), and allow pure DPS players to select a loot spec that actually gives them a reasonable chance at some optimal gear. If Blizz insists on making every spec “unique” and conforming to a “spec fantasy”, then by golly they need to hold up their end, too, and configure gear tables to conform to all these unique specs. We have heard the party line now for some time that secondary stats really are not all that important, not to worry our poor little heads about it, but that is just not true. Secondary stats have a very noticeable impact on player performance, and the inability to reliably loot gear appropriate to one’s spec is just sloppy design.

What about current class imbalances? Hazzikostas as much as admitted that classes and specs are not well balanced, that there are some clear winners and losers. But he also said that, due to the overwhelming importance of artifact weapons and the time that needs to be invested in them, Blizz will not be correcting these known imbalances any time soon. When or if they decide to do a better job of balancing, he indicated it would be done via extensions to artifact abilities. In other words, if you were a lottery winner and your spec currently rules, you can expect it to continue to do so, possibly ruling a tad bit less but ruling nevertheless. On the other hand, if your spec currently stinks, you can rely on it continuing to stink for the foreseeable future. Sucks to be you…

This is disappointing, and yet another example of Blizz’s new Commitment to Exellence Good Enough. The major redesign they opted to do for classes in Legion was a complex, tedious undertaking, with predicably major problems of balance both within each class and across all classes. It’s not like they haven’t done this before, not like they don’t have experience with it. But they went ahead with it anyway, failed to devote sufficient resources to follow it through, suddenly “realized” they could not continue to adjust the imbalances because of their other decision to make every spec dependent on a single piece of gear, ran out of time before the launch, and so threw up their hands and called it done.

Some final thoughts.  Based on the information we got from the Gamescom interviews, combined with the class and spec changes we have seen, I am beginning to think it is time for Blizz to admit that the designation of class is less important than the designation of spec, and to start supporting players on that basis. That means redesigning loot tables as well as player designation filters for mechanisms such as Group Finder. It also means much more balancing effort at the spec level, and much more attention to the interplay of gear, talents, and abilities for every spec.

Is this vastly more complex than designing and balancing for class? Yes, but it is a complexity problem of Blizz’s own making. As far as I know, players were not clamoring to make every spec unique and do yet another complete redesign, were not petitioning to get rid of the “Bring the player, not the spec” philosophy. Players were not demanding a different, unique, high-maintenance, play-determining weapon for every spec in the game. Those were internal Blizz decisions, made for who knows what reasons. But having embarked upon this course, it seems like the approach should be to embrace it completely, not half-assed. You want to get rid of homogeneity? Fine, but have the professionalism to see it through, don’t get three-quarters of the way there then call it “too hard” and abandon it.

Well, whaddya think?

Whew! Patch 7.0.3 rolled out yesterday, with surprisingly few glitches, and honestly my main impression so far is: this is a helluva lot of work! Yes, work. I am sure I have never before labored so hard as I have done for the past two days, just to make a game playable. And my most optimistic estimate is that this will go on for at least another three or four days. Maybe longer.

The drudgery started Monday night, when I realized that all those garrison resources I had capped out on for most of my characters would be virtually worthless come the patch. Even using a couple of macros, it took me over two hours just to trade in all my resources for sacks of gold. True, I cleared close to 30k gold doing it, but it was tedious. And not exactly wild fun.

Then I tackled all the salvage crates I had saved up for the past month or so. I think I only had about 500 or so total in my account — not nearly as many as some of my guildies had — but that was just painful. Open them up, sell the follower gear and gray items, bank the mats, and sort out where to send which type of gear, using mailboxes as a temporary banking system. Ugh. The only saving grace for me was that I had pretty much been doing this for the last year. I would open crates maybe once a week for everyone, then check each item to see if it was most suitable for transmog for someone, or for AH sales, for DE, or for vendoring. Then about a month ago my banks began to fill up with transmog gear that would not fit in void storage, so I just kept the crates because they at least stacked.

The other thing I am glad I did was that whenever I would send some transmog gear to a character over the past year, I made sure to equip it and make it soulbound. I became very thankful for this foresight last night as I was busily equipping all the BoE gear I had sent around Monday night, so that I could sell it after making sure the appearance made it into my transmog tab. Still, it was tedious even with the relatively few BoE pieces I had to deal with. I got my two hunters sorted out for transmogs and cleaned out all the accumulated gear in their banks and void storage areas. It took several hours, and the process was made more complex by the fact that the main storage addon I use, Ark Inventory, had some major glitches. They eventually got more or less fixed, kind of, but it was a real mess.

While I am on the subject, though, I have to give some major kudos to all the addon authors. At least for the major addons I use, these folks were on top of the situation. They had done the prior work to make their addons mostly 7.0.3 ready, and most of them were issuing updates every few minutes yesterday as bug reports came in. Sure, I know they have had a long time to do this while they were in the alpha and beta tests, but most of them do this for no direct money, and I am pretty sure even what revenue they may derive from forum and blog sites and whatnot is not exactly vast riches (the addons themselves are free, and they may not ask for donations or anything on compendium sites like Curse).

Next I tackled changes with my main hunter. I have been MM since patch 6.2 — 13 months — and decided that I would at least start Legion as BM. Honestly, it is kind of a Hobson’s choice. Some of the very early comparisons seem to point to MM/LW being “THE” raiding spec for Legion — as it has been for most of WoD — but it really is too early to know for sure. But I have never been comfortable with MM in WoD, never really liked the limits on movement, never got used to not having a pet by my side. My current plan is to make my main hunter BM and my almost-main hunter MM to start Legion. This is a pretty stupid decision on my part, because right now they are the opposite, which means I will have to switch both of them. But my “main” main has a lot more cooler pets … It just seems right to make her the BM hunter.

Setting up new action bars and keybinds is not a trivial chore. Not to mention, I rely on Weakauras as the major part of my UI, and all of my auras had to be redone, many deleted, new ones added, and so forth. As to gear, I made some minor changes in light of Multistrike going away, Crit becoming pretty “meh” for BM, and trinkets getting nerfed, but for the most part I am not going to get overly concerned about secondary stats for the remaining few weeks of WoD. I will change out some gems on my BM hunter to stack some haste, but if I have a lot of Mastery instead of the slightly-better Versatility, I am not going to worry about it. Secondary stats are pretty meaningless anyway, as they will shortly be overshadowed by artifact weapons. And Blizz is still tinkering with them for many specs. Bottom line for my BM hunter — keep most of my gear, change out a trinket, stack Haste when convenient, move on.

Side comment: In their official Pre-Patch Notes from two days ago, Blizz claimed that this patch would allow us to equip more than 3 crafted items, but I was not able to do so last night. ??? And in searching just now for the actual quote, I find that in fact the notes have been changed since that particular tidbit was put out. They said it, they announced it, then they unsaid it. No explanations, no apologies, just a selective edit and memory erasure. What, hmmmm? No, we never claimed that….. Poor dear *pat pat* you must be working too hard….

Anyway, back to my hunter. After I finally got things more or less squared away last night, I stepped into a couple of LFRs with her. Grim. Of course, no one ever does any cc in LFR, but I felt completely useless in that area. No traps is a huge deal, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And no, Wyvern Sting is in no way even close as a substitute. I also really felt the loss of specialty shots like Tranq and Distracting Shot. True, I never used them all that often, but I liked knowing they were there if the situation called for them. The new Aspect of the Cheetah, with its timer and cooldown just really sucks. This just seems to be a mean-spirited change, driven only by some sort of hunter envy. And no camouflage will hurt a lot when it comes time to level, I am sure.

I am probably one of the few hunters who actually enjoyed doing lots of little extra raid chores. Now, we have almost no utility for those things. We are just another damage dealer in a crowd. As for actual damage numbers, it is a bit hard to tell. No one was doing anywhere close to what we were seeing before the patch, but whether that is mainly due to spec changes or to everyone having to relearn rotations is not clear. BM will always stink at rapid target switching, and much of HFC involves that. I had not selected an AoE-heavy talent build, but I still did respectable damage with lots of targets if they were all bunched up. Volley is a pretty cool talent, very similar to the rogue’s Blade Flurry. Stampede just blows, at least in any situation where the tank keeps moving adds or the boss — it is completely dependent on your own directional orientation, has absolutely nothing to do with targets.

I will point out that Blizz needs to cut back on some of the audio effects for hunters, though. The constant Dire Beast whistle gets very annoying very fast, and the Bestial Wrath scream is just nerve-grating.

The thing with BM is that most of your damage is based on your pets, and you lose a ton of damage if you miss even one Kill Command or Dire Beast when they either proc because of spell interactions or just come off their rather short cooldowns. I had also taken Chimaera Shot as a talent, and that, too, requires very close monitoring. What I found myself doing was tunnel visioning my hot bars (or my Weakauras), and I lost a lot of raid awareness as a result. Since there are a lot of dynamic cooldown and focus regen changes, it does not seem possible to get into a second-sense rhythm of when things are about to become available. I am somewhat dubious that it will ever be possible to do so. Of course, it was my first real group effort with the new BM, so it is still early in the process.

Anyway, I have gone on far longer than I intended to for this post. Bottom line is that so far I have found the pre-patch to be a lot of drudgery, I think the new transmog system is a welcome improvement, and BM hunters still stink.

I would be very interested in your early impressions.

Two thoughts on the new Alpha build

Today there was a ton (at least compared to the info vacuum of late) of info released on Legion alpha changes. I am hoping those with access to alpha really dig into it in the next couple of days and give us all some valuable feedback on how the theories actually feel to play, but meanwhile here are my initial takes on two items of note.

Secondary stat scaling. Celestalon posted an admirably transparent discussion of Legion changes to secondary stat scaling, which included the dev reasoning behind the changes. I will rely on others to really dig into the math involved in it, but I think the overall effect will be a good one. Basically, as I understand the change, the importance and raw power effects of secondary stats will be slightly less in Legion, especially at higher gear levels. But primary stats will still scale exponentially — as they do now — with gear level.

Celestalon claims this will mean, for example, that blue gear will be more effective at the start of Legion than it was at the start of WoD, and that the change will give more chance to less-than-hardcore raid teams to attain decent progress through raid tiers.

He also says it means that the point at which a raw ilevel increase outweighs favorable secondary stats will be slightly lower than it is now. If you keep your great secondary-stat piece of gear now until you get something with bad secondary stats that is maybe 15-20 ilevels higher, in Legion that balance point may be 10-12 ilevels higher. (I think his numbers were a little different, but you get the idea.)

*Rant alert*

Here’s the thing I find most interesting about this change. One of my and others’ major complaints about WoD gear has been that secondary stats are extremely important for gear, that they vary not only by class but by spec, and that the only way to get better stats for your spec is by rolling the dice again and again. This ends up being a “compound interest” crap shoot, because even just geting gear is random; even if you get gear, whether or not you can use it is random; and even if you can technically use it, whether or not it has the best secondary stats for your spec is random.

So how does Blizz propose to “fix” this frustrating situation? Maybe bring back a mechanism like reforging, so that when you finally land a piece of gear you can make sure it has spec-appropriate secondary stats? Nope. Make it so that secondary stats figure in when you select your “gear spec” in dungeons and raids? Nope. Make the whole gear process less RNG-dependent and maybe give an alternate badge/token path to getting it? Nope.

No, their answer is to make secondary stats slightly less important, I guess because they think that way we’ll feel much better when we go months or even entire expansions without getting that “ideal” gear.

As I said earlier, I don’t think the announced change is necessarily a bad one, but damn, Blizz, do you have anyone there who can analyze the real scope of some of the problems your players find most frustrating? Do you have anyone who can see solutions beyond cheap band-aid ones?

MM hunter tweaks. One of the MM tweaks announced was a change to Black Arrow (emphasis mine):

Black Arrow. Fires a Black Arrow at the target, dealing 0 damage over 0, stacking 3 times. 3 charges [ 4 + 40% of AP ] Shadow damage over 8 sec and summoning a skeletal minion to taunt it for the duration. Black Arrow’s cooldown is reset when you kill an enemy. Marksmanship Hunter – Level 15 Talent. 40 Focus. 40 yd range. Instant.15 sec cooldown.

I can only hope this is an early drawing-board stage of this talent. Really, it is bad enough that Blizz is going to strip MM hunters of the pets some have spent years finding and taming, but now they add insult to injury by creating this abomination of a talent, this perversion of what was once a decent signature shot, this mockery of the entire hunter-pet bond??

Without the mandatory “skeletal minion” this could be a powerful shot and a reasonable Level 15 talent. But to add in an uncontrolled warlock-or-DK-type “pet” that always taunts? I want some of what they must be smoking back in Blizz Devland. What are they thinking?

This is clearly meant to (badly) compensate MM hunters for the years they have spent learning to level and solo with their pet. (It is obviously only a leveling/soloing talent choice, because I have yet to meet that tank that loves to remind all the hunters in the group, “Please put all pets on taunt! It makes my job so much easier!”)

Here is another example of Blizz not understanding the depth of some players’ frustration with MM changes. It’s not about a play style that involves a pet, it’s about a play style that involves your pet. There is no reason in the world that Blizz could not offer a “reverse Lone Wolf” MM talent choice to play with a real hunter pet. But no. Instead they apply a cheap band-aid “fix” that is an insult to many long-time hunters. (Well it is to me, anyway.)

I continue to look forward to looking back on Legion.

GAAAAHHH! and other observations

Last night, as part of my project to spiff up some of my more promising alts, in case I need to abandon my hunter main in Legion, I was working on my warlock. She had pretty crummy gear, including a blue weapon and a level 4 crafted alchemy trinket. My plan was to get her a level 6 inscription weapon, get the trinket to level 6, and have her craft her own chest piece for the third crafted item. Other than having to spend a ton of gold to get the needed felblight, I was in good shape for mats.

The weapon and trinket were easy. I got lucky on the weapon and immediately got the peerless flavor, which is the best set of secondary stats for destro. All that was left was to tailor the chest piece, looking once again for peerless.

O.

M.

G.

I won’t bore you with the sordid details, but it took me 46, forty-six!, FORTY-EFFING-SIX tries to reroll a peerless chest piece. For you accountants out there, that is 1380 sumptuous furs, which on my server has a street value of slightly over 2000 gold.

Never mind the cost. Do you have any idea how incredibly frustrating it is to spend close to an hour to reroll stats 46 times?

I have said it before, and now I am saying it again:

The entire secondary stat mechanism blows.

Anyway, the whole experience just destroyed any semblance of concentration, organization, or sanity I had left, so today’s post is a hodgepodge of random thoughts I had while perusing MMO-C’s rundown of the latest Legion data mining and beta changes.

In no particular order:

Dalaran. Glad to see we are getting some flat screen TVs in the inns in Dal, because nothing I like better than coming back after battling monsters than to kick back with a brew and watch the latest episode of Wild Housewives of Ironforge.

And this tidbit:

The Citizens of Dalaran are stoically prepared to face the Legion, though it might mean the destruction of their beloved city.

Uh-oh. Please, Blizz, don’t let us suffer through permanently destroyed parts of Dal, like we have done with the park in Stormwind. I am pretty sick of nice places in the game getting all uglied up and never returning to any semblance of grace and beauty. Really, Blizz, not everything in the game has to have an end state of dark and/or ugly.

New item. Vantus runes “… with a weekly duration that buff your power on one dungeon, raid, or world boss.” Huh? They last for a week but you can only use them once in that time? Will these be a new way for butt-brained group leaders to add even more restrictions to the players they will allow to pug with them — “must have unused rune”? Does this mean the tuning on bosses is so high you will need this to down them?

New friendship reps. Disliked, Accepted, Trusted, Respected. What about Loved?  Appreciated? Ignored? Avoided at All Costs? Blizz has a lot to learn about the many levels of friendship….

Highmountain (location for the Hunter Class Hall).

The Highmountain Tribe has dwindled in numbers over the years, and with the drogbar threat looming, seek new allies to save their homeland.

Who the fig are the drogbars? I am not an expert in lore, but I don’t think we have ever heard of this bunch before. Honestly, I am getting more and more annoyed with Blizz’s treatment of hunters. First they completely destroy the class as it has existed since pretty much the beginning of the game. Then they invent a new place for the class hall — zero history in the game, zero hunter tradition, zero connection with anything any hunter has ever done in the game. And now they invent this new bogus threat of “drogbars”? Notice that all the other classes get some connection with history and lore. But hunters? Nope. Blizz has succeeded in obliterating the class, and now they are eradicating all vestiges of hunter tradition.

Legion has been touted as rich in lore, a return to the ancient beginnings. And that seems to be the theme that permeates every class except hunters. As far as hunters go in Legion, Blizz has just written them off as not worth the effort of integrating into the history. Who cares? Just give ’em some new place and make up some crap about drogbars, it’s not like they are an important class like mages or demon hunters for crying out loud.

And last, and hopefully not least — Marksmanship class spell changes.

Lone Wolf. Your damage dealt with Auto Shot, SteadyArcane Shot and Aimed Shot is increased by 30%. Hunter – Marksmanship Spec.

My realistic side says this is an error or a baseline passive attribute, but my eternally gullible optimistic side hopes this is a talent, therefore Lone Wolf is just an option, therefore pets might still be in the picture for MM. Doubtful (see above rant on Blizz’s intent to destroy the entire hunter class along with all traditions and history), but an elf can hope.