Of course last year was a pretty challenging year to make predictions, since we knew a new expansion was coming and while we had a couple of tantalizing hints, we had virtually no idea what hunter changes we would have. The expansion news flew fast and furious all spring and summer, bringing with it change after change; hunter joy and discussion as we got almost everything we asked for, followed by the inevitable buffs and nerfs of the expansion process.
After getting off to a bit of a slow start, hunter DPS is now rocking away as we start 2013 looking forward to patch 5.2. But before we look forward, let's take a look back and grade Frostheim's presentience to determine if what I predict has any bearing on reality...
2012 hunter predictions review
As usual, I made a few short term and relatively safe predictions, as well as some long-term aggressive ones, including several predictions about what kind of new abilities we'd get, and how hunter balance would look in MoP. Let's see how I did.
- Dragon Sould hunter DPS is buffed: Nailed it, even though it wasn't looking very likely at the time.
- Hunter PvP continues to be poor throughout Cataclysm: Nailed it, though sadly this was a really safe prediction.
- MoP beta to launch in Feb or March: Just squeezed by on this one with a late March beta.
- MoP releases in the summer, possibly July: Total whiff on this one, with a September release I was off by a full 2 months.
- BM gets Stampede, an ability to release 5 non-controllable pets at once as DPS burst on a long cooldown: Totally nailed it, and this was before we had any hint that we'd be getting an ability like this. I was off by a tiny bit, because I thought it would be a BM-only spec ability, but still a very nice successful prediction.
- Of the six hunter talents, we'll have three that have a "right" answer, and three that are actually a choice: I think I got pretty close on this one, but you could make a pretty strong argument that Aspect of the Iron Hawk is a must-have for most raid encounters, which would make the split 4 must-have and 2 optional.
- Pets get a talent system similar to hunters: Total whiff, as instead pets had their talents entirely removed.
- PvP gets much better for hunters: I think it's safe to say this was spot on. Hunter PvP is vastly, vastly improved over what it was in Cataclysm. I went on to speculate that SV would return as a dominate hunter spec, that BM would do well and that MM would fall into the least popular hunter spec. Some right and some wrong there, as BM is the dominant hunter spec, but MM did fall from PvP grace, and fell hard.
- Pet collars are introduced: Total whiff, but I will never give up hope! I shall continue to predict this darling every expansion!
- BM is the top PVE DPS spec: Nailed it.
- We get a hunter legendary, and that it is for hunters only, and is not a sissy bow. Well, I suppose that's half right.
- The world does not end: Nailed it. Of course that was doubly safe, since if I wrong, no one could call me on it!
As I sit down to think of predictions for the next year of huntering, I'm suddenly finding it surprisingly difficult. Hunters are in a pretty decent place at the moment. All of the hunter specs are pretty close to each other in DPS and as a class we're in a pretty good spot in the charts: not so high that a nerf will come, but not so low that we can't top the charts with enough skill. Similarly for the first time in a long time hunters aren't a disaster in the PvP world.
- Hunter's get a DPS buff. I know I said that hunter DPS is in a good place, and it is. However, historically hunter DPS hasn't scaled as well as other classes, so as the gear level gets higher and higher hunters have a tendancy to fall behind. Thus I suspect that we'll need a small buff before the end of the year to keep our DPS looking good for the later raid content.
- Sniper Training or something similar returns. I don't think this is going to really be necessary, but I suspect that Blizzard will have enough pressure from other classes complaining that we can always do our full DPS while moving that this will get implemented. It will be some version of rewarding us for standing still for X amount of time (which is, in effect, punishing us for moving). Bonus points to Blizzard if they wait to implement this until hunters need a buff, so it looks like an overall buff to DPS.
- We will see new spirit beasts. Thus far all has been quiet on the spirit beast front for the entire expansion; however, I can't imagine that they wouldn't introduce at least one new spirit beast for pet collecting hunters.
- More hunter pet storage is announced. I think that Blizzard is going to have to allow hunters to collect more pets (since currently there are more taming challenges in the game than there are stable slots). Personally I'd rather they did not simply make more stable slots; instead I'd favor a more long-terms solution like the hunter petting zoo (personally phased like your Tillers farm), or some form of cryogenic pet void storage.
- Powershot does not get fixed. Blizzard has acknowledged the coding problems that prevent them from making Powershot work properly right now, and I'm betting that it doesn't get fixed at all, and is eventually slated to be fixed (or outright replaced) in the next expansion. This is fine, since we have other talents we can choose that tier, but certainly frustrating.
- Pet collars are announced. Yes this is incredibly unlikely outside of a new expansion, but I refuse to give up!
- BM will remain the most popular spec throughout the year. I expect SV to gain ground and be better DPS in some fights, but BM will still be more popular due to its devoted following.
- MM gets a DPS buff. Even though MMs DPS can be darned near BM or SV, the selection bias makes it look far worse than it is in the logs, which is keeping people away from it. Eventually Blizzard will throw it some kind of a bone just to encourage others to relearn and play the spec to see how good it really is. I'm predicting that even though they know MM is okay, the very low number of people playing will motivate them to do something.
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