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Scattered Shots: A very hunter BlizzCon

Brian Wood

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of Dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

I was going to write something today about the wee, tiny little BM and SV buffs that we saw on the PTR, but frankly I can't focus on that stuff right now. I'm too excited about Blizzcon.

As you're reading this, I spent the day getting up early and navigating airport security to spend too many hours on a plane only to navigate my way out of LAX and catch a taxi up to BlizzCon. If all goes well, there'll be just enough time to check into the hotel before running over to what will be the most epic WoW Insider party ever. If you're attending BlizzCon, you also don't want to miss the Great Hunter Meetup at the Hilton lobby bar on Friday night starting at 8 p.m.

The greatest part of BlizzCon is meeting and hanging out with all the awesome people, both hunters and support classes. But it's also when we get all sorts of news about the future of the game -- and the hunter class -- and a chance to ask questions to the developers directly. And of course, Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) is there wandering the halls -- and as hunters, if anyone can track him down for a quick extra question or two, it's us.

Join me after the cut as we take a look at what we learned about hunters at last year's BlizzCon and what we might learn this year.

The big announcements

It seems very likely that we'll get an announcement about what the next expansion will be and perhaps some vague language about when. But unless the expansion is Rise of the Hunters (Fall of the Elven Nations), this isn't directly related to us. The class info usually comes out of the class Q&A session, which will be Saturday afternoon.

But very interesting is a new panel on Friday afternoon: World of Warcraft Class Talent System. Having an entire panel on this topic suggests that we're going to hear about some significant changes -- probably in relation to the new expansion -- about a new talent system revamp and expansion, and we may very well learn some hints about awesome hunter ideas (stampede?).

Minimum range

The class Q&A is of course open to all the support classes as well as us hunters, and this year it covers professions and items too. This means that we can expect only a handful of hunter questions to get answered at the panel. And you can bet that just as at least one hunter will waste one of our precious slots with a silly or pointless question, at least one of the others will be about minimum range.

When Blizzard recently had its class design feedback thread, hunters overwhelmingly complained about minimum range. They complained about it in nearly every possible complaint category. With that kind of feedback, I'm going to be very curious to see what the response is when it gets brought up at the con.

Minimum range did come up at Blizzcon 2010 when a hunter asked about it and he had some back-and-forth with the developers. Here an excerpt of their responses:

It's part of the overall flavor of the hunter class unfortunately, and it goes hand in hand with using ranged weapons. That said I'm very sympathetic to the reality on fights like Lord Marrowgar, and other bosses that have very large hit boxes -- which works to the advantage of melee because it lets you spread out -- but effectively it's subtracting from the viable range for hunters. That issue in particular is something that we've discussed addressing because it is intended to make life easier for you, not harder, and life would be easier for you on Marrowgar if you were smaller and that's just not how it's ideally going to work....

At the same you can shoot while moving and a mage can't channel his spells while moving, so there's trade offs right? Or a rogue or a cat they can't do anything when they have to run around the room, and you can. So there's different classes have different strengths in different situations.

It's interesting that the hitbox issue was indeed addressed -- kind of -- by making some of the Cataclysm bosses that required clumping into melee ignore minimum range. It was great, for PVE, but also inconsistently implemented.

I have to think the pressure of this question has increased with the massive hunter feedback, and I wonder if we won't hear the first speculation about the possibility of removing it.

What else we heard last year

At the Q&A, we had a hunter try to argue that we should get Aspect of the Cheetah with no penalties at all, just a flat 30% movement increase always; unsurprisingly, that didn't fly. We also had someone ask for cooler proc enchants like the melee got, and the Blizzard developers said that they were going to be evaluating the scopes and looking for a way to make them cool and interesting -- and we eventually saw Flintlocke's Woodchucker.

In a less official capacity, we heard from Ghostcrawler that Counterattack was on the list for review but that Blizzard wouldn't get to it soon. We still have it a year later, and it looks like we may have to wait for the next expansion. We did get GC-speculated buffs to Multi-Shot and weapon damage normalization changes. We heard that pets would likely have their talents changed to make it possible for them to become crit-immune. That one also came to pass, and now we've had a hunter solo Atramedes (mostly due to the lack of a hard enrage and the ability to bypass the soft enrage -- but pet tanking was also needed).

Ghostcrawler said that it was also possible that we'd get non-visible pet collars at some point, and it breaks my wee Dwarven heart that my pet is still without an awesome pet collar option.

What do you want to learn?

I'm going to be at BlizzCon (and depending on when this post goes live, I may already be), and you can bet I'll be keeping my eye out for Ghostcrawler at the various parties where he's known to make an appearance. If I do have 15 seconds to ask a quick question, what one question would you want me ask him?
Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter and choosing the best patch 4.2 gear to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?

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