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Scattered Shots: Patch 3.3.3 hunter changes

Brian Wood

Welcome to Scattered Shots, written by Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast. Each week Frostheim uses logic and science mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven Stout to look deep into the Hunter class. Got hunter questions? Feel free to email Frostheim.

Patch 3.3.3 has hit, bringing some surprises with it. We got the BM buffs we knew about, but we were also slipped some changes that weren't on the PTR. In addition to some truly odd things, Ghostcrawler put on his santa suit and slipped in some nice presents for all the good hunters of the world.

Unfortunately some of the patch notes are a bit vague, or they're worded very poorly (in one case implying the exact opposite of what the change really was). But after a bit of legwork and testing, it looks like most of these changes are good things for us.

Join me after the cut as we take a look at the more notable patch 3.3.3 hunter changes.

Ferocious Inspiration

The patch notes are worded incompletely, but the new Ferocious Inspiration talent with max ranks is this:
All party and raid members have damage increased by 3% within 100 yards of your pet. In addition, increases the damage dealt by Arcane Shot and Steady Shot by 9%
The raid buff is something that BM already had before -- it's more of a quality of life change. Again, this is the same buff that ret pallies and arcane mages also provide. It's certainly nice that it's now passive and with a greater range (and arcane mages got the same change). The 9% damage boost to Arcane Shot is also something that BM already had.

So the main change here is is the 9% buff to Steady Shot damage. This will mean a total of about a 1.5% DPS boost for most BM hunters -- so BM DPS will still be far behind MM, but it'll bring them closer to SV anyway. The more interesting effect of the change is that it moves up the point that BM hunters will want to gem for armor penetration, and the point where BM will want to drop Arcane Shot from their rotation (around 750 ArP or so, by the way).

Rapid Fire

Okay, the patch notes say this:
Rapid Fire: Now triggers the global cooldown correctly.
At first you might think this means that Rapid Fire now triggers the global cooldown... 'cause, you know, that's what it says. This is not what the change was however (and wow would that have been bad news if it was). It used to be that Rapid Fire did not trigger the GCD, but it could not be used during the GCD. Meaning if you cast Aimed Shot, you'd have to wait 1.5 sec before you could use Rapid Fire -- but you could then use Rapid Fire and instantly hit another shot.

Now Rapid Fire still doesn't trigger the GCD, but it can also be used during the GCD. So you cast Aimed Shot, but you don't have to wait at all -- you can use Rapid Fire on top of the GCD, just like Silencing Shot. This is a nice little change that make it easier to use.

Heart of the Phoenix

The cooldown of Heart of the Phoenix is being reduced from 10 minutes down to 8 minutes. This change is... odd. There are no real practical applications to it that I can think of. My best guess is it's related to arenas. Abilities with cooldowns of 10 minutes or longer are not supposed to be able to be used in arenas, so perhaps they're nudging the Heart of the Phoenix cooldown so that it lines up with these rules. But this change shouldn't have any real impact on hunters.

Lock and Load
Fixed a bug where Lock and Load always proc'd 100% of the time from the first tick of Explosive Trap. It should now be 6% as advertised.
This is a bit of bad news for SV hunters, but the only real ramifications are for PVP. In PVE we rarely ever use an Explosive Trap on a single target fight. The GCD loss of running in to drop the trap and then back out is rarely worth it.

Mortal Shots
This talent was not correctly buffing Serpent Sting by the full amount.
Mortal Shots is the talent that boosts the crit damage of our special shots by 30%. When our tier 9 set (that lets our Serpent Sting crit) first came out, it wasn't playing well with Mortal Shots. This was fixed -- somewhat -- but still wasn't doing the full damage expected. We learned to live with it because the set bonus was still so amazing, even if it wasn't quite as good as it maybe should have been.

So what exactly is the impact of the change?

I've looked over a bunch of raid parses, and it looks like on average Serpent Sting has been critting for about 229% of standard tick damage before 3.3.3. Keep in mind here that we expect it to be boosted 30% by Mortal Shots and another 3% from our meta gem, Relentless Earthsiege Diamond.

After a lot of testing on the target dummies, it's now looking like Serpent Sting is critting for about 239% of standard tick damage. So it's increasing our Serpent Sting crit damage by about another 10%.

This change only affects hunters with the 2-piece tier 9 set bonus, but it is a nice little DPS boost. More importantly, this means that MM hunters in particular are going to want to hang onto their tier 9 set for even longer. The set bonus was already so good that it was worth the stat loss to hold onto for a while, but now the tier 10 4-piece isn't worth going for until you have at least all ilvl 264 tier 10 pieces, and the right mix of other gear as well.

For most MM hunters, this means that you'll be keeping your tier 9 set throughout Wrath. That is, unless Blizzard decides to let our Serpent Stings crit without needing the set bonus for it...

The Rest of the Changes

That covers the significant or notable (or strange) hunter changes from patch 3.3.3. Here are the complete patch notes for us for patch 3.3.3:

Patch 3.3.3 Hunter Notes
  • Explosive Trap: Low ranks of this ability were receiving no bonus damage from attack power. That has been corrected.
  • Immolation Trap: Tooltips for lower ranks should now display more accurate damage.
  • Rapid Fire: Now triggers the global cooldown correctly.
  • Sniper Training: Reduced the time it takes to gain this effect so with lag it will feel more consistent with the 6 seconds stated in the tooltip.
  • Lock and Load: Fixed a bug where Lock and Load always proc'd 100% of the time from the first tick of Explosive Trap and never from additional ticks. It should now be 6% as advertised.
  • Master's Call: This ability will now function correctly when the pet is affected by one of a death knight's diseases.
  • Mortal Shots: This talent was not correctly buffing Serpent Sting by the full amount.
Beast Mastery
  • Ferocious Inspiration: This ability is now an aura and provides 1/2/3% damage to all party or raid members within 100 yards and boosts the damage of Steady Shot by 3/6/9%.
Pet Talents
  • Heart of the Phoenix: Cooldown reduced to 8 minutes, down from 10 minutes.

You want to be a Hunter, eh? Well then you came to the right place. You start with science, then you add some Dwarven Stout, and round it off some elf bashing. The end result is massive dps. Scattered Shots is the column dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a Hunter. Each week Scattered Shots will cover topics to help you improve your Heroic DPS, understand the impact of Skill vs. Gear, get started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101, and even solo bosses with some Extreme Soloing.