Scattered Shots: New hunter MoP talent updates

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the hunter podcast 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.or ask him on Google+.

Last week, Blizzard updated the Mists of Pandaria talent page, giving us a new look at what it's working on for class customization in advance of its mid-March press tour. We hunters got a peek at some awesome new stuff going on with the class, with improvements both in PvP and PvE.

The hunter news from this preview falls into three general categories:

  1. Our three new level 90 talents were revealed.

  2. We saw some meaningful changes to existing talents.

  3. We saw some changes to other classes that could impact the hunter class.

While we're seeing a bunch of new hunter info in this update, Blizzard did go out of the way to point out that it is still working hard on the hunter class and it's not as far along as some other classes. In particular, we don't yet have any new class abilities or new spec abilities for level 90. We also don't know what route Blizzard's going to go with our pet talents.

With that in mind, let's take a look at all the new stuff we did learn!

Standard MoP disclaimer

Keep in mind that all the information we're about to discuss is subject to change at any time. In fact, the one thing we know for certain is that some of it will change. We aren't even in the beta process yet, and our class is going to go through a lot of iterations. These previews let us see the direction that the designers are planning to take our class, but none of this should be considered set in stone. Blizzard's developers have not made a pinky promise about any of this stuff, and if it changes, you shouldn't hate them forever and not be best friends anymore.

New level 90 talents

The updated talent preview shows the three level 90 talents hunters have access to. As a reminder, in MoP we'll get to choose just one of these three talents. Every hunter spec has access to them, and changing talents is supposed to be about as easy as changing glyphs.

  • Glaive Toss You hurl two Glaives in front of you 30 yards, dealing 1,X damage to all enemies and reducing their movement speed by 50%. The Glaives will return back to you, also dealing damage and snaring targets they hit. If Glaive Toss hits at least two enemies in both direction, the cooldown is reset.

  • Powershot You wind up a powerful shot, dealing1,X damage to all targets in front of you within 20 yards (width). The damage done is increased on targets further away: 15-30 yards: Double damage, Stunned 1 second. 30-50 yards: Triple damage, Stunned 2 seconds.

  • Binding Shot You fire a magical projectile, tethering the enemy and any other enemies within 10 yards to the landing arrow. Increases all damage they receive from you by 15%. If they move 15 yards from the arrow they are stunned for 10 seconds (5 seconds PvP). [20 focus, instant, 30-yard range]

Very interesting! Obviously, we can see a lot of PvP benefit to these talents, which makes sense with Blizzard's acknowledgement that hunter PvP needs help, but we also are seeing a lot of AoE love. I'm fond of that, since hunter AoE could certainly handle being a bit more interesting. Let's take a look at the implications of some of these talents.

Glaive Toss will ideally be used to target the back of an AoE pack, and then strafe sideways so that the return path is different from the launch path. This could become a viable PvE AoE method since the cooldown resets. I wonder if you'll be able to fire off another shot while the glaives are boomeranging around. I do think that the ability isn't great flavor for hunters -- the concept that we're dropping our ranged weapon to toss some glaives is odd.

A glaive is a polearm with a large single-edged blade on the end of a long pole, similar to a spear. I'm not sure how you'd toss two of them at once, let alone have them return like a boomerang.

Powershot is difficult to evaluate because there's so much we don't know. The preview doesn't list any costs, cast times, or range to the ability, but the description implies that it's going to have a cast time, and probably a bit of a long one, or it may even be a channeled ability.

The other fascinating thing about this ability is that it lists a range increment of up to 50 yards. Is this going to be an extra long-range shot? Or is that just an oversight? I do like the idea of the conical AoE that is long range, but I worry about how useful it will be with a cast time.

Binding Shot looks awesome and on the surface appears to be our PvE ability of choice while also having interesting PvP implications. The wording, however, is confusing -- in particular, the choice of the word "tethering." I do not think this ability is meant to be a root that holds people in place -- after all, the description clearly states an effect if people move out of the area of effect, implying they can indeed move (and likely move freely, since it makes an interesting stay or go choice with the stun).

My hunch is that tethering was meant to be a flavor word and what's actually happening is you fire this shot and everyone in the AoE takes 15% more damage from you. If they move out, they're stunned. Bosses will not be stunned. Interesting for PvP and great for trash packs -- fire Binding Shot and then multi-shot away, stunning the mobs if they scatter for a full 10 seconds. Hell, yes. Shorter range at 30 yards, and no mention of what the duration or cooldown is.

Changes to existing abilities

We saw a handful of changes to existing abilities, some of which were very interesting. We did see a lot of coefficients change, and we're going to see a lot more number tweaking as we go forward. A lot of what we're seeing this round is adjusting weapon damage coefficients to keep certain abilities from being too tough at low levels (and we'll see the damage on ranged weapons go up to compensate). Here are the major changes.

  • Camouflage can be cast in combat but will only last 6 seconds when you do so. Since you're probably slowed most of the time you want to use this, it won't let you escape, and since DoTs break you out of camo and you're always DoT'ed (and we still have no way to remove them), it will only last 1 second anyway. Essentially, this upgrade lets us turn off their targeting for a second, like we do with FD.

  • Trueshot Aura is dropping back down to 10% for both melee and ranged attack power, implying that the current favorable 20% AP for melee is going away.

  • Lock & Load will only trigger one free Explosive Shot with no cooldown, rather than two. But the bonus shot will do twice the damage. Essentially, we're getting just as much DPS out of L&L but spending less time doing it. This is a good deal.

  • Black Arrow is the most fascinating change so far. It will work essentially the same, but it sounds like it will do some percentage of weapon damage as direct damage, then apply a DoT over 20 seconds (like now) based on base + AP coefficient. But that DoT will apply to every enemy in the path of Black Arrow when it's fired! There are some interesting AoE implications for that, but remember that if you're using Black Arrow, you don't get your Explosive Trap.

Two other notes

Druid's are getting an ability that lets them target another class and take an ability from that person, giving them one of their abilities in return. We know that feral druids can get Feign Death from hunters, and hunters get Dash (movement burst cooldown) in return.

Warlocks are getting an ability that lets them summon 5 imps for some burst DPS, on a 1-minute cooldown. This sounds dangerously similar to the Stampede ability many hunters are hoping for, and I have to say that giving that ability to warlocks makes it seem a bit less likely that we'll get our version.

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?