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Hunter changes for patch 3.0.3

Zach Yonzon

Is it Christmas already? It sure seemed that way when I opened up Patch 3.0.3 and saw so much Hunter love coming out from the box. Sure it's not all good, but it's mostly good. Sort of like Westley only being mostly dead. Let's get right to it... first off, we have Barrage and Improved Barrage now affecting Aimed Shot. This is an awesome buff because let's face it, ever since Steady Shot showed up at the party, nobody's asked Aimed Shot to dance. This also makes all three talents a hell of a lot more attractive, so they're now like some sort of hot mean girls triple play that's come to kick Steady Shot to the curb. Or something like that. I mean, come on, +12% crit to Aimed Shot.

Aspects are now off the Global Cooldown and have a shared 1-second cooldown, which is excellent if you're on the ball with aspect switching. It will no longer interfere with rotations, although the only aspect we really switch up when we're sniping away is the, um, rebalanced Aspect of the Viper. The mana returned per shot is lower by 50%, but it now grants a passive regeneration of 4% of total mana every 3 seconds. Mana is also returned with melee attacks, which means we now actually have a sweet aspect to put up when a Warrior is Whirlwinding our butt.

Of course, against anybody else, specially those ridiculous Retadins, we'll have Aspect of the Monkey up. It now grants an 18% chance to dodge, a full 10% more than the old version. That's why we really need Aspect of the Viper up against Warriors. Blizzard also tossed a cute bone our way with the dual-purpose Aspect of the Dragonhawk, which is trainable at Level 75 and combines the effects of both Aspect of the Monkey and Aspect of the Hawk. Why they didn't name it Aspect of the Monkeyhawk for clarity is beyond me.

Animal Handler in the Beast Mastery tree was changed to confer Expertise instead of Hit to our pets, which I think is a great buff considering it's virtually impossible to position pets exactly behind mobs. This should help reduce those dodges and parries scrolling up our screens. The cost of all pets' unique special abilities have been reduced to 20 focus, which is a fairly insignificant change considering none of them are spammable, anyway. Ferocious Inspiration is now also properly raid-wide like most every buff in the game.

Disengage was made much easier to use, with the cost reduced to 5% of base mana, down from 14%. Cooldown was also reduced to 25 seconds from 30, so Survival Hunters with Survival Tactics and Glyph of Disengage should be able to use it every 16 seconds. That's really very cool. It also no longer needs a target to trigger, but requires us to be in combat lest we abuse it like some sort of reverse Blink. It is also awesomely off the Global Cooldown, which means we can go crazy making macros to Disengage and fire a shot at the same time. Disengage will fail if we are rooted.

Of course, along with all the good stuff, there are some fixes. Hunter vs. Wild was fixed to properly apply to our pets as well as calculate properly from equipping items. T.N.T. will only trigger from the initial application of Explosive Shot, and Thrill of the Hunt now only receives a third of the mana from crits with Explosive Shot but gets three opportunities per cast. If I read that correctly, Explosive Shot crits will return mana with each tick instead of all at once, right? That last one confuses me a bit, but overall Patch 3.0.3 gives Hunters some pretty decent tweaks.

The last bit I want to mention is how Windfury Totem and Improved Icy Talons no longer confer ranged haste. Boo, Blizzard! I guess it's not Christmas yet, after all.

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