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WoWOct 23, 2018 10:00 am CT

The state of Huntering: The Hunter class itself

That sound you hear is a whole lot of changes for Marksman Hunters dropping on the 8.1 PTR. With this retooling of one spec, now is a good time to look at our class.

First of all, we’re still one of the most played classes. 10 percent of players in PVE/PVP content play Hunters. Distribution between specs is very uneven and bounces around numbers based upon whom is reporting data. That said, Beast Mastery hunters rule — hands down — in reported Mythic content. At one time, however, all specs were showing up equally in content. Who reports and what day it is contributes to the wide variance in data.

A big difference has come with DPS output — and this is where the changes currently focus for Marksmanship on the PTR. The most current data I could find lists Survival as the highest DPS, followed by Beast Mastery, followed by Marksman. Over 1,000 dps points separate SV from MM. Skilled players can close that gap, but in high-damage situations, you’re possibly not going to bring an MM Hunter. It’s exceedingly hard to design parity into all classes, but it’s not fun to be running logs and see your preferred spec come out near the bottom every time.

What’s changing for Marksman?

Keep in mind, this is the PTR and things can — and probably will — change as more people test these and provide feedback. That said, let’s break down the current changes, shall we?

  • Bursting Shot‘s knock back range has increased — it can’t be dodged, and it ensnares the target for 6 seconds.
  • Concussive Shot has been buffed via application of Steady Shot. This will work for all Hunters, so having a Marksman in the group will increase the daze effect from all Concussive Shots.
  • Rapid Fire needed line-of-sight in PVP. That requirement is being removed.
  • Aimed Shot is getting a bonus from Careful Aim. This is a Marksman Hunter’s biggest damage producer. Blizzard acknowledges it’s been unreliable at best. This is probably a large reason why Marksmanship Hunters are behind in damage. If your bread-and-butter shot isn’t working, no amount of careful play can change that. The buff from Careful Aim is now guaranteed.
  • Trueshot is being redone to work better with Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire. Its cooldown is being reduced which, it is hoped, will allow these two shots to recharge faster.

That’s quite a bit of retooling, but the spec needed it.

An extremely brief analysis

Beast Masters and Survival Hunters had their buffs and nerfs so we don’t get anything in spec changes in 8.1. When numbers are parsed, we see that making Survival a pure melee class — while providing a lot of damage — has created a rotation which is the most unforgiving of the three specs. If it’s not executed precisely, Survival DPS can take a big hit. But this spec appeals to people who like to run with a pet and feel in great control over pushing buttons at just the right time. Knee-cap those mobs, folks — and make sure to get out of stuff at the boss’s feet.

Beast Mastery, on the other hand, gets referred to as “easy mode.” This is not to say DPS generated by a Beast Master is lackluster — far from it. DPS suffers in BM only when you have to switch targets rapidly because your pet doesn’t react as quickly as you do. With BM, keeping stacks of Barbed Shot up can be frustrating, let’s admit it. Once you get your rotation down, you don’t have a lot of minute calculations to keep up your DPS. Just don’t stand in stuff, and target other mobs when appropriate. We can explode damage on a target, survey the field of battle, and dance around, doing DPS all the time.

Marksman’s retooling will help it recover from a not-so-great rotation-versus-movement problem. In movement-heavy fights, they just couldn’t pull any kind of weight since their shots needed them to be stationary and they don’t have a pet. From my point of view, it feels as if you’re being given more damage production over the course of a fight, though I admittedly do not play this spec. I’m willing to bet we’ll see quite a bit of DPS increase after 8.1.

With the exception of maces, shields, and wands, it’s all still Hunter loot

We take a lot of grief for our choice of class. I think, of all the classes, BM is the easiest class/spec combo to play. Your pet does a lot of your damage. Keep it alive. Don’t stand in stuff, and watch where you’re pointing your weapon. It’s easy to go asleep or to automate your rotation. That one derogatory term for Hunters is probably from BM Hunters not paying complete attention. (Growl, anyone?) I’m quite partial, but if someone were starting out in this game, I’d recommend playing a Beast Mastery Hunter. It’s just fun.

I also recommend trying out the other specs. My guild has Hunters who switched to Survival this expansion simply because it’s hugely fun to play now and they can rack up the damage. What’s not to like about that? We currently don’t have anyone playing MM. Perhaps with these changes, we will.

If you look at the damage charts, the fact that two of three Hunter specs are in the top 15 means we can bring the DPS. Assuming the changes to MM go through, the specs are in a good spot. If you are looking for a pure DPS class, you can’t go wrong by being a Hunter.

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