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Scattered Shots: Hunting Mists of Pandaria talents

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.

Patch 4.3 has been out for over a week now, and that means that it's so old news. It's time for us to finally look forward to patch 5.0 and the Mists of Pandaria hunter talent preview that we first got a look at during BlizzCon.

The new talent system strips down the talent selections to a mere six talent choices. Every 15 levels, you are presented with three possible hunter talents, and you can choose only one of them. Then 15 levels later, you choose one of a different three talents, and so on -- only unlike many talents now, these talents aren't meaningless.

Now, the last time we talked about this MoP stuff, the comments got a bit heated. To assist you today, I have included the above video. If you're about to say anything stated in that video, you are about to become one of those people and are better off calling your mom instead. She hasn't heard from you in too long anyway. She worries.

The new system rocks

There are a lot of different opinions on the new talent system, and everyone's opinion is valid. Unless of course you think the new system is worse than we have now, in which case you're clearly wrong and probably play a rogue.

The goal of the new system is to get rid of a bunch of the old, boring talents and to move the must-have talents into spec abilities that you automatically get as you level in your spec of choice. In this, I think the new system is wildly successful. Most of all the goal was to provide meaningful choices, and on that count it's a bit hit and miss but certainly no worse than we have now.

Some people feel that making only six talent decisions is too few. There's some merit to that point of view; however, keep in mind that right now we make fewer choices than that. Despite having many more talent points right now, we have very few talent decisions. Almost all our talents have a "right" choice -- which is really no choice at all.

I also strongly disagree with the notion that this is where skill comes into play. If you can spend five minutes searching online for the cookie-cutter best talent build, then that's not skill. Skill is your ability to execute your rotation optimally in game, be aware of your surroundings, and make the right decisions about what ability to use at the right time when in the chaos of battle. If your claim to skill is knowing the best talents or gems, then you're probably not as good as you think you are.

Let's take a good look at the new talents and see how well Blizzard did at making meaningful choices. Keep in mind that all of the numbers (damage, duration, cooldowns) are subject to lots and lots of change.

Level 15 talents

  • Frozen Arrows Your arrows and ammunition are chilled with frost, causing your Auto Shot to have a 30% chance to reduce the target's movement speed by 30% for 10 seconds.
  • Arcane Arrows Your arrows and ammunition are infused with arcane magic, causing your Auto Shot to have a 50% chance to restore 5 focus when it deals damage.
  • Venom Tipped Arrows Your arrows and ammunition are mixed with serpent venom, causing a stacking poison damage over time effect on the target, dealing nature damage. Stacks up to five times.
Our first talent choice lets us change the behavior of our Auto-Shots. It's worth noting that this does not mean that we're going back to having consumable ammunition -- it's just a flavor thing.

It seems pretty clear that for this tier we will not actually have much of a choice. Once we know the damage of Venom Tipped Arrows, we're going to do the math and see whether that or Arcane Arrows is best for each spec, and that will be the correct call for most fights. We may have the occasional fight where we change it up (because we want the slow effect for adds, or because it's bad to have DoTs up, for example), but this first tier is going to have a right answer. It is possible that this will be an interesting decision for PvP, however, depending on the state of hunter PvP in MoP.

On the other hand, these talents are all pretty darn cool.

Level 30 talents
  • Silencing Shot 20-second cooldown; a shot that silences the target and interrupts spellcasting for 3 seconds.
  • Wyvern Sting 1-minute cooldown; a stinging shot that puts the target to sleep for 30 seconds. Any damage will cancel the effect. When the target wakes up, the sting causes 2,190 nature damage over 6 seconds. Only one sting per hunter can be active on the target at a time.
  • Intimidation 1-minute cooldown; command your pet to intimidate the target, causing a high amount of threat and stunning the target for 3 seconds. Lasts 15 seconds.
Here we see a bunch of familiar talents letting us choose between silence, CC, and interrupt & stun. I'm curious to see if Intimidation gets changed at all. Right now Wyvern Sting is going to be the way to go in 5-mans, and Silencing Shot is probably the best call for raids -- but it all depends how the abilities change.

Level 45 talents
  • Posthaste Your movement speed is increased by 60% for 4 seconds after you use Disengage.
  • Evasiveness Increases your chance to dodge attacks and resist spells by 100% for 3 seconds when you use Disengage.
  • Exhilaration When you Disengage, you are instantly healed for 15% of your total health when you successfully land.
I love to death that we have a whole tier of talents deciding how to modify our Disengage to make it more awesome. I can see applications for all of these in raiding situations, but right now, Exhilaration certainly looks like the best of the bunch for raiding hunters. Anything we can do to help the healing burden.

I can imagine in MoP that the signature silhouette of the hunter in a raid is a kind of jumping bean, bouncing back and forth with Disengage all the time, whether we need to or not.

Level 60 talents
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera Whenever you are hit by a melee attack, the cooldown of your Disengage is instantly reduced by 4 seconds. Whenever you are hit by a ranged attack or spell, the cooldown of your Deterrence is instantly reduced by 8 seconds. These effects have a 2-second cooldown.
  • Aspect of the Iron Hawk Your Aspect of the Hawk now also reduces all direct damage taken by 15%.
  • Spirit Bond While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate 2% of total health every 5 seconds.
We're definitely beginning to see a trend of one mostly PvP ability mixed in with two viable PvE abilities. This is an interesting choice, I think, although not a big or exciting one. I'm curious to see whether Spirit Bond gets a boost in MoP.

Level 75 talents
  • Fervor 2-minute cooldown; instantly restores 50 focus to you and your pet.
  • Readiness 3-minute cooldown; when activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on all Hunter abilities.
  • Thrill of the Hunt You have a 15% chance when you fire a shot that costs focus to instantly regain 100% of the focus cost of the shot.
This tier is the most interesting and impactful choice that I've seen yet in the suggested new hunter talents. To be sure, the numbers are going to need to be tweaked -- Fervor will need a lower cooldown at the very least to have a chance of competing. But I have a feeling that the math of Readiness vs. Thrill of the Hunt is not going to be at all clear, and it may really come down to style of play.

This is assuming that the right balance is struck, of course, because the possibilities of Readiness are massive, particularly that it will now be available to all specs. This means big red pet Readiness combo is back, as is using Readiness in combination with any other talent. More on that in a bit.

Level 90 talents
  • Flash Freeze Your Freezing Trap no longer has a cooldown, but only one target can be afflicted by it at a time.
  • Black Ice Increases the movement speed reduction of your Ice Trap by an additional 10% and when you move through your Ice Trap you gain 50% movement speed for 4 seconds.
  • Transmorph Trap 30-second cooldown; place a nature trap laced with a special toxin that will transmorph the next enemy into a beast, reducing their movement speed by 60% and causing them to be unable to use any of their normal abilities.
The final hunter tier is another really interesting one, all trap-related. I can empathize with hunters who are a little disappointed by these as our level 90 talents -- especially after Camouflage as our level 85 ability -- but keep in mind we still don't know what the level 85 to 90 spec or class abilities are. With any luck, our awesome new damaging abilities lie there.

When I was at BlizzCon, I got a chance to ask Ghostcrawler about an interesting situation with the new talents: "So can you Freezing Trap one target, then Wyvern Sting another, then Transmorph Trap another, and Scatter Shot a fourth? And then hit Readiness and do it all again to another four?" Ghostcrawler paused a moment and said that they may have to look at that. So no promises that the massive CC combo will make it through alpha and beta testing -- but even without the Readiness combo, that's a heck of a lot of hunter CC on demand!

So what do you guys think of the new talent options (ignoring the numbers for a moment). Assuming they were worked to be more balanced, do you think the choices are more meaningful than what we're making now? How would you change the tier options to make them more of a decision?

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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