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Scattered Shots: Cataclysm pet design pass

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.

After endless waiting and so much patience it tried even the saintlike souls of us hunters, the pet design pass has finally come to pass. Probably the most important change was Blizzard's finally giving in to hunter demand and creating a dance ability for our fox pet, but there were several other lesser changes that are probably worth noting as well.

Specifically, our pets are now providing a variety of raid buffs, as promised. But instead of giving minor versions of the raid buffs like we thought, our pets are actually providing the full raid buff: armor debuff, 5 percent crit buff, physical damage debuff, and even Heroism/Bloodlust.

Join me after the cut for the full list of new pet special abilities.

Damaging special pet attacks gone

Blizzard has told us in the past that it wants to have more variety of pets in the field, not just every hunter with a wolf like it is now (or cats before that). The key to how the developers are accomplishing this is by removing all damaging special attacks from our pets. Our pets will have their melee attack and their basic attack (claw/bite/smack), and that's all they'll have for dealing damage. Their special ability with either be a raid buff or another ability that does not cause damage, such as a root or stun.

This way, all ferocity pets are capable of dishing out the same DPS. Ferocity will still do more DPS than tenacity or cunning pets, since they get better attack power scaling from the hunter and have better DPS talents. Now, your choice of pet is going to depend on your raid/party composition and what buff is needed most, rather than on which pet does the highest theoretical DPS.

Of course, the decision can get a bit sticky when you need a buff only provided by a tenacity pet. Then you have to calculate if the personal DPS loss of a tenacity pet is less than the DPS gain to the raid for having the buff.

"Best pets": different in each group

This change does not mean that you can bring whatever pet you want (well, you can, but it would be sub-optimal, like bringing a sporebat to a raid today). There will still be a best pet for your specific group -- or perhaps a choice between two pets. And you know what? That's a good thing.

I know a lot of hunters out there wanted a situation in which no outside force determined their pet choice -- not theorycrafting, not game mechanics, not their raid leaders or their mothers. It's possible to make pets that way, and it's easy, as well, as long as every pet is exactly identical and the only difference is how they look, or if every pet's special ability is different but useless in a standard group PvE environment. Those are pretty much the only ways that you can bring any pet that you want and still have your choice be optimal.

Any time you have genuinely different and useful abilities, then you have to make choices that matters. When you're making choices that matters, one choice is going to be better for any specific situation.

Pets can either be designed so that your choice doesn't matter, or they can be designed so your choice does matter.

I think with the new raid buff model, Blizzard has done a terrific job of making our pet choice matter, but they've done it in such a way that not every hunter will be using the same pet. The downside is that it means, depending on your group or raid, one pet is going to help the group more than another. And yes, if your raid leader knows what she's doing, she's going to ask you to bring the pet that helps the raid the most.

And honestly, why wouldn't you? We're hunters; we're team players. Of course we're going to do what's best for the team, right? We aren't a bunch of selfish bastards like those darned warlocks, after all.

The exotic advantage

Once again, our pets will not have damaging special abilities, so your exotic pet will not be doing more damage than a non-exotic pet. However, exotics do have an advantage: they get two special abilities rather than just one. Typically, we're seeing that they have one raid-type buff (often really good ones exclusive to exotic pets) and one PvP-type ability.

Of course, the real advantage of the Beast Mastery talent is not the exotic pets (though they are cool) but the extra four pet talent points.

The pet buffs by pet

I have tried to make this list as complete as possible, but I have not yet tamed every single pet family in the game (though I've got a heck of a lot so far). Thus, some of this information is gathered from Wowhead, and datamined information is not always accurate. Also, it does appear that some pet abilities may be incorrectly implemented, and I've made notes when something looks wrong.
  • Bat Sonic Blast: No longer does nature damage, just 2-second stun.
  • Bear Demoralizing Roar (renamed from Swipe): Reduces physical damage caused by all enemies within ?? yards by 10% for 15 sec., 10-sec. cooldown.
  • Bird of Prey Snatch: No longer does damage. Disarm duration increased to 10 sec.
  • Boar Gore: Now causes the enemy to take an extra 30% bleed damage for 15 sec., 10-sec. cooldown.
  • Carrion Bird Demoralizing Screech: Appears unchanged for now. [I'm sure it will be changed. Currently does damage and lowers melee attack power.]
  • Cat Rake: appears unchanged. [I'm sure this will be changed. The goal was to have all pets do the same damage.]
  • Chimera Your pet simultaneously breathes frost and lightning at an enemy target, slowing the target for 5 sec. / 30-yd. range, instant, 10-sec. cooldown (No longer deals damage)
  • Corehound Lava Breath: No longer does fire damage, just 25% cast speed reduction. Cooldown reduced to 8 sec. Focus cost removed. [I would guess this will change to 30% reduction, just like the rest of the cast speed reduction buffs.]
    Ancient Hysteria: Increases attack speed/casting speed of all party/raid members by 30% for 40 sec.; 6-min. cooldown, but causes 10-min. Sated debuff preventing Ancient Hysteria and Bloodlust.
  • Crab Unchanged.
  • Crocolisk Ankle Crack (changed from Bad Attitude): Now reduces enemy movement speed by 50% for 6 sec., 10-sec. cooldown.
  • Devilsaur Monstrous Bite: Now reduces the effectiveness of heals received by 25% (standard mortal strike) for 8 sec., 6-sec. cooldown. Terrifying Roar: increases crit chance of all party and raid members by 5%.
  • Dragonhawk Fire Breath: Now increases the enemy's magic damage taken by 8% for 45 sec., 30-sec. cooldown.
  • Fox Tailspin: Reduces attack speed of all enemies within 10 yards by 20% for 8 sec., 40-sec. cooldown.
  • Gorilla Pummel: Focus cost removed. Just 2-sec. spell school lockout.
  • Hyena Tendon Rip: Now, it increases enemy damage taken from bleed effects by 30% for 15 sec., 10-sec. cooldown.
  • Moth Serenity Dust: Now interrupts/prevents spellcasting from that school of magic for 2 sec., 1-min. cooldown.
  • Monkey Bad Manners: Hurls a handful of something special at the target, blinding them for 4 sec. Rude.
  • Nether Ray Nether Shock: No longer does shadow damage. Just interrrupt/spellschool lockout.
  • Raptor Tear Armor (renamed from Savage Rend): Now reduces enemy armor by 4% for 30 sec. Stacks 5 times. 6-sec. cooldown. [I'm sure this will be fixed to stack 3 times for 12% like every other armor debuff.]
  • Ravager Ravage: Now increases enemy's physical damage taken by 4%, lasting 25 sec., 15-sec. cooldown.
  • Rhino Stampede: No longer does damage. Bleed damage effect increased to 30%. Duration changed to 30 sec. Cooldown changed to 15 sec. So just the bleed debuff.
  • Scorpid Clench (renamed from Scorpid Poison): Now disarms the enemy for 10 sec., 1-min. cooldown.
  • Serpent Corrosive Spit (renamed from Poison Spit): Instead of a DoT, it now is a debuff, reducing enemy armor 4% for 30 sec. Stacks 5 times, 6-sec. cooldown. [Note: I'm sure this will be changed to stack 3 times to be the same as all the other armor debuffs in Cataclysm.]
  • Shale Spider Embrace of the Shale Spider: 5% stat increase.
  • Silithid Venom Web Spray: Root duration increased to 5 sec. No longer does nature damage. Qiraji Fortitude : Increases party and raid members' stamina by 148. Unknown duration and cooldown
  • Spider Web: Duration increased to 5 sec.
  • Spirit Beast Spirit Mend: The Spirit Beast heals the currently friendly target for (1237 + ((RAP * 0.35) * 0.5)) plus an additional (475 + ((RAP * 0.35) * 0.335)) over 10 sec., 40-sec. cooldown.
  • Sporebat Spore Cloud: Now reduces the casting speed of all emenies with 6 yards by 25% for 9 sec., 12-sec. cooldown.
  • Tallstrider Dust Cloud: Now reduces attack speed of all enemies within 10 yards by 20% for 8 sec., 40-sec. cooldown.
  • Turtle Shell Shield: unchanged.
  • Warp Stalker Time Warp (renamed from Warp): Changed completely. Now reduces enemy's movement speed by 50% for 6 sec., 15-sec. cooldown.
  • Wasp Sting: Changed completely. Now simply stuns a target for 2 sec., 45-sec. cooldown.
  • Wind Serpent Lightning Breath: Now increases the enemy's magic damage taken by ??% for 45 sec., 30-sec. cooldown. [We assume this is the 8% spell damage taken debuff.]
  • Wolf Furious Howl: Changed completely. Now increases the critical strike of the entire party/raid by 5% for 1 min., 45-sec. cooldown.
  • Worm Acid Spit: No longer does nature damage. No longer reduces armor, now it increases enemy physical damage taken by 4% for 25 sec., 10-sec. cooldown.
The buffs/debuffs by type and who brings it
  • Agility and Strength death knight, shaman, warrior
  • Armor shaman, paladin
  • 10% AP marksmanship hunter, enhancement shaman, blood death knight, paladin
  • Burst Haste corehound (exotic), shaman, mage
  • 3% Damage beastmastery hunter, arcane mage, retribution paladin
  • Health silithid (exotic); warlock, warrior, priest
  • Mana Pool mage, warlock
  • Mana Regen paladin, shaman, warlock
  • Replenishment shadow priest, frost mage, survival hunter, destruction warlock, retribution paladin
  • 5% Crit wolf, devilsaur (exotic), fury warrior, feral druid, subtlety rogue, elemental shaman
  • 20% Melee Attack Speed shaman, frost death knight, retribution paladin, survival hunter
  • 5% Spell Haste shaman, balance druid, shadow priest, destro warlock
  • 6% Spell Power mage, shaman
  • 10% Spell Power elemental shaman, demonology warlock, fire mage
  • 5% Stats shale spider (exotic), paladin, druid
  • 12% Armor Debuff serpent, raptor, warrior, rogue, druid
  • 10% Physical Damage Debuff bear, warrior, druid, protection paladin, warlock, blood death knight
  • 30% Bleed Damage Debuff rhino (exotic), boar, hyena, arms warrior, feral druid, subtlety rogue
  • 30% Cast Speed Slow sporebat, sorehound (exotic), warlock, rogue, arcane mage
  • 5% Spell Crit Chance Taken fire mage, warlock, mage
  • 25% Healing Taken devilsaur (exotic), arms warrior, fury warrior, hunter, rogue, frost mage, shadow priest
  • 10% Melee Attack Speed Debuff tallstrider, warrior, death knight, feral druid, protection paladin
  • 4% Physical Vulnerability worm (exotic), ravager, arms warrior, combat rogue, frost death knight
  • 8% Spell Damage Taken dragonhawk, wind serpent, warlock, unholy death knight, balance druid, assassination rogue

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. See the Scattered Shots Resource Guide for a full listing of vital and entertaining hunter guides, including how to improve your heroic DPS, understand the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.

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