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Scattered Shots: 4.3 bonus hunter changes

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.

At long last, patch 4.3 is live, bringing with it the great hunter balancing buffs (and the pesky melee buff that we don't benefit from -- but the video above demonstrates pretty clearly that hunters need no melee buff). At the outset, the patch is looking like a good thing for hunter spec balance, boosting BM and SV up to levels that are nearly indistinguishable from MM DPS.

We also got a nice little surprise buff to SV that alters the base SV rotation -- and actually has the potential to give SV that last little push into first place, possibly slipping ever so slightly past MM in the DPS charts.

Join me after the cut for a quick recap of what we're seeing in patch 4.3 and the T.N.T. cooldown change that looks like it's going to change the SV hunter shot choices.

Disclaimer I'm really glad I don't need one anymore -- because the patch is live!

Recapping the hunter changes

Here is the roundup of the hunter changes that are now live with patch 4.3:
  • Widow Venom and the devilsaur's Monstrous Bite now reduce the target's healing by 25%, up from 10%. This is a base change to the debuff and applies to all classes that can provide the debuff. Note that these effects do not stack.
  • BM's specialty Animal Handler now increases attack power by 30%, up from 25%.
  • BM's Focus Fire now lasts 20 seconds, up from 15 seconds. This yields better haste uptime and more Frenzy time for the pet.
  • BM pet AoE from worm and chimera pets has had a 20% DPS increase and has the area of effect increased.
  • SV's Explosive Shot damage was increased by 15%.
  • SV's T.N.T. now has a 20% proc chance at max ranks, up from 12%.
  • The internal cooldown of T.N.T. has been reduced to about 10 seconds, down from about 22 seconds. This is a substantial change.
Of course, in addition to these mechanical changes, we also have new gear and the ability to transmogrify that gear into the same gear but with different pixels.
SV and T.N.T.

In the SV tree, T.N.T. is the talent that allows our Lock & Load to proc off of Black Arrow or Explosive Trap ticks -- without it we can only get Lock & Load from our Freezing Traps. T.N.T. has always had an internal cooldown that limits the number of times that Lock & Load can proc, no matter how lucky you get.

That cooldown was about 22 seconds, but Zeherah of FemaleDwarf noticed on the PTR that the internal cooldown was substantially lower -- around 10 seconds. I have to admit that I thought this was one of those PTR errors that would get fixed before it went live -- but indeed, the reduced internal cooldown went live with the patch.

You could argue that the reduction in internal cooldown makes sense since Blizzard was increasing the proc chance. The problem with the internal cooldown reduction is that it could easily upset the delicate balance of the SV rotation.

Enter the Explosive Trap rotation

SV has always ridden a fine line between Explosive Trap and Black Arrow in Cataclysm, and Blizzard has usually done a pretty good job of buffing Black Arrow when needed to make it just a bit better then Explosive Trap.

Black Arrow does more damage than Explosive Trap, but the DoT from Explosive Trap lasts longer and ticks more frequently. That means that Explosive Trap is much better about proccing Lock & Load.

Now that the internal cooldown of Lock & Load has been reduced to 10 seconds, it's entirely possible to get two Lock & Load procs off of a single Explosive Trap. It's even possible from a single Black Arrow, but it's far less likely with Black Arrow with so many fewer ticks and the shorter duration.

It appears now that Explosive Trap is actually better single-target DPS option than Black Arrow for SV hunters. You have to use the Trap Launcher to fire your Explosive Trap, of course, but with practice, you can be almost as quick as a normal fire. The Trap Launcher only costs you 20 focus, where Black Arrow costs 35.

Sadly, we still can't macro our Trap Launcher to a single button press. What I use is this macro, which you have to tap twice to get the green targeting circle:

/castsequence [nomod]reset=3 Trap Launcher, Explosive Trap

One SV hunter only, please

The downside of this is that Explosive Trap has had a consistent bug since Cataclysm beta where only one Explosive Trap DoT can be active on a target at a time.

[Edit: in fact this bug was fixed prior to patch 4.3 and I completely missed the fix. Ignore this section, and thanks to Harvoc for pointing it out!]

I'm curious to see if Blizzard lets this lie, or if it pushes through some tweaks to keep SV hunters using Black Arrow in their rotation.

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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