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WoWMay 1, 2015 5:00 pm CT

Locked and Loaded: Grading the Level 100 hunter talents

Welcome to Locked and Loaded, Blizzard Watch’s regular column for Survival, Marksmanship, and Beast Mastery hunters. This week, your host Adam Koebel (@BendakWoW) will be giving the level 100 hunter talents a report card.

I’ve been wanting to discuss our level 100 hunter talents for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what format the post should take. That is, until I saw Scott’s report card for level 100 rogue talents from a couple of weeks ago. I will happily steal his idea. As a pickpocketing rogue, I’m sure he’ll understand.

Exotic Munitions

I was so excited when I first heard about Exotic Munitions. I pictured myself constantly swapping out ammo types on the fly, even in the middle of a fight. What I didn’t see at the time was that this talent was doomed from the start. It’s entirely passive. Yes, even more passive than Lone Wolf and Adaptation, which at least put emphasis on executing a good rotation to fully benefit from the damage bonuses. Therefore, Blizzard has to be conservative when balancing out the damage numbers for it since it requires nearly zero input from the hunter.

Using Exotic Munitions over the other level 100 talents is a DPS loss for all specs (as much as 10% in the worst case). You’re probably thinking that using Exotic Munitions would harm Survival hunters the least because of Essence of the Viper. Nope. Beast Mastery actually has less of an overall DPS drop from using this talent, and Marksmanship takes the biggest hit. In AoE, the talent fares a little better, but only in sustained mass AoE which doesn’t really apply to any of our current encounters

PvP is where this talent gets some usage because it’s the only real choice for Survival and Marksmanship. Giving up your pet isn’t ideal (Roar of Sacrifice and Master’s Call), so Lone Wolf is out. Focusing Shot is just going to get you killed. So we’re left with Frozen Ammo, aka automatic Concussive Shot. Poisoned Ammo can also be used depending on who you are fighting.

If it were up to me, I’d change the talent completely. It seems wrong that it’s only useful for two specs in a single aspect of the game. Far too niche if you ask me.

Pre-launch buzz: B
Visual impact: C
Fun Factor: D
Raid value: F
Solo value: C
PvP value: B

locked and loaded - focusing shot

Focusing Shot

I was certain that Focusing Shot was going to be the defacto choice for Marksmanship when I first heard about it. You’re standing still for Sniper Training anyway, so it made sense to me. But no, Lone Wolf buffs the damage of Chimaera Shot and Aimed Shot far too much for this talent to compete.

The surprise to me was when it became the number one raiding talent for Survival (at least until we got our hands on T17 set bonuses). A big part of this was because of how Serpent Sting functions. Every time you hit with Arcane Shot or Multi-Shot, an additional tick of Serpent Sting damage is dealt — not just for hits but for multistrikes as well, so it is beneficial to be able to cast as many of these as possible. Focusing Shot facilitates the spamming of these shots. As we discussed in the previous column, Blizzard is removing this instant tick functionality entirely in the upcoming patch 6.2. Now all you’ll need to worry about is refreshing the DoT every 15 seconds as there’s no benefit to reapplying it before expiration.

With instant ticks a thing of the past, I have to seriously consider this talent’s future viability. Marksmanship has little interest in it over Lone Wolf, and Beast Mastery prefers Adaptation in pretty much every scenario. In PvP there’s no reason to hamper your movement if you don’t have to, so this is not a talent for that either. It has one niche with survival (mainly AoE) which may be obsolete in the next patch.

I do think it’s a fun talent. It feels great to be able to fill up my Focus bar on demand. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be enough from a numbers perspective. Perhaps the talent needs an additional effect to make it more attractive compared to the Lone Wolf and Adaptation juggernauts?

Pre-launch buzz: C
Visual impact: B
Fun factor: B
Raid value: A (pre-6.2)
Solo value: B
PvP value: F

Lone Wolf

If you’ve read my previous columns, you’ll know that Lone Wolf and I have a complicated relationship. We don’t exactly see eye to eye. I was skeptical about this talent from the very start, as evidenced by this post from 1.5 years ago. I am happy to say that one of my biggest fears about the talent (an excuse for more raid encounters to be pet unfriendly) never really happened.

However, in many scenarios you are simply going to do more DPS on your hunter by abandoning your pet, which still makes me sad. I’ll leave it at that though, because I know many people adore this talent.

I actually don’t think they should change anything about this one. I think the other talents which have trouble competing should be buffed or changed instead. Lone Wolf fulfilled its original goal: it gave us the pet-less hunter, and it made the pet-less hunter viable. Yeah, it’s not really something you want in PvP or for solo purposes, but Tomes of Clear Mind stack to 200 now. There’s really no problem!

Pre-launch buzz: A
Visual impact: F
Fun factor: C
Raid value: A
Solo value: D
PvP value: C

locked and loaded - adaptation


Full disclosure: I am going to be a little biased towards Adaptation. I prefer playing Beast Mastery and I was quite excited when I first saw this talent. Did you know it was originally named Versatility? Blizzard had to rename it because of the introduction of the stat of the same name.

Adaptation turns your pet into a super pet. That’s all you really need to know. It does more damage, it can survive longer, and it gains more utility. It’s the perfect talent for a Beast Mastery hunter because it fulfills our dream of having an amazing, multi-talented pet. I love it!

Like Lone Wolf, this is a popular talent. I don’t think it should be changed at this point, and again, I’d rather see the other talents changed to be competitive with it. I see Lone Wolf and Adaptation as the baseline for level 100 hunter talents.

There are ways in which it could be made a little more active. For example, instead of a blanket pet damage increase it could only increased Kill Command and Basic Attack damage (by a higher amount individually) to put more emphasis on the hunter’s performance.

Pre-launch buzz: A
Visual impact: F
Fun factor: B
Raid value: A
Solo value: A
PvP value: A

You may agree or disagree with my grading (and I’d love to hear why). As a whole, I’m not that thrilled with our level 100 talents. I think they could use some work in the next expansion. What do you think?

This week’s hunter Q&A

keatsdothu asked:
Aren’t cats borked right now? Kind of no point to stealth if they come out of it seconds before reaching their target… (I’m guessing the damage buff they get from it remains for a few seconds after, but still, as someone who also plays a rogue I just cringe everytime I see them doing this.)

This is the first I’ve heard of this bug, so I decided to take a look. Turns out it only happens for cats (Prowl), but does not happen for spirit beasts (Spirit Walk) even though they’re identical abilities. After a little testing I determined Growl to be the culprit. Turn that off and your cat should remain in stealth until it melee attacks.

Chrth asked:
What do we need to do to get Tranq Shot viable again? I hate not being able to use it on the fly now.

Tranquilizing Shot’s Focus cost was increased to 50 in a recent hotfix, making it essentially unusable (that’s not hyperbole). This was a nerf targeted at PvP. The Glyph of Tranquilizing Shot is something you’ll want to use on Beastlord Darmac and Blast Furnace to make the ability usable again. How can they fix it? Make the glyph baseline.

Bill1234 commented:
What I would have done with Aspect of the Fox is change it to a short duration, raid-wide speed boost; same as the Druid Stampeding Roar ability.
It would thematically fit with Hunters and it would give us a useful raid buff. And it’s a useful enough buff that it should probably be provided by more than one class.

It’s a popular idea and something I wouldn’t object to, but I think they could just change Aspect of the Pack to this functionality instead. Pack only causes witch hunts at this point. Which hunter left it on? Let’s kick them!

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