Scattered Shots: Nerf train rolls in on the beta

Brian Wood
B. Wood|08.09.12

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Scattered Shots: Nerf train rolls in on the beta
Scattered Shots Nerf train rolls in on the beta THURSDAY
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+.

The great shadow of the nerf bat has fallen over the Mists beta hunter, and it's hitting hard. Of course, it's not necessarily a bad thing -- sometimes numbers are too big, and they need to be smaller to keep things balanced.

For those of you who have not been keeping track of all the constant beta changes, here's what happened: A bit ago, we got a big wave of hunter buffs. Some of these were for the sake of buffing hunters, but others were intended to fix bugs or to adjust the comparative balance of shots or abilities. The end result was huge DPS buffs. Too huge.

Hunter DPS was over-the-top high, so much so that many hunters even started pointing it out. And there were other weird things too -- like Arcane Shot doing more damage than Explosive Shot, dogs and cats living together, etc.

With the volume of changes coming in this patch, you can be pretty sure that we're not done. If history is any indicator, it's likely that hunters got a bit over-nerfed and we'll see some compensating buffs in the near future. But as you'll see, it wasn't just nerfs; we got some buffs, too.

The nerfs

Let's start out with the bigger list -- the nerf list. These are all of the nerfs that we've found so far:
  • Arcane Shot damage has been reduced substantially, not quite in half but close. This was a necessary move after the big buffs to Arcane Shot previously.
  • Serpent Sting damage has been reduced about 20%. In addition to the DoT damage reduction, this will also lower the damage that SV's Improved Serpent Sting deals. This doesn't impact their single-target damage but meaningfully reduces SV AoE damage.
  • Steady Shot and Cobra Shot damage were both reduced substantially. This will help keep Arcane Shot a good deal after the arcane nerf.
  • Aimed Shot damage was nerfed substantially -- over a 30% reduction.
  • Kill Command damage looks to have been reduced, but the datamining was unclear on the amount and I have not yet retested it or seen anyone else's tests.
  • Explosive Shot's damage appears to have been nerfed, but like Kill Command, the final equation isn't yet entirely clear. I hope to have a chance to retest it over the weekend.
  • Chimera Shot had its base damage reduced by about 30%. This is a relatively minor change.
  • Wild Quiver's damage was reduced about 15%.
  • Black Arrow's damage was nerfed nearly 20%.
  • Pet basic attack damage was reduced about 20%. In addition to dropping the damage of pets, this should also slightly reduce the damage done by Stampede.
  • A Murder of Crows was recently nerfed. We were told that it was a change that would result in about the same damage, but testing done by Zeherah showed that the change resulted in a 13% damage nerf per cast.
The buffs

Of course it's not all Nerf City all around. Combined with an overall lowering of hunter DPS, we also have some abilities getting buffed, as Blizzard continues to work on talent balance. Here's what the buff scene looks like:
  • Barrage had its focus cost reduced to 30, down from 40, and the damage has doubled.
  • Blink Strike's damage has tripled. This was a very needed change, as the original implementation made using the ability a DPS loss. This makes Blink Strike a valid talent choice for BM, though not other specs.
  • Glaive Toss has its focus reduced to 15, down from 20. The base damage doubled, but the damage multiplier to the primary target was reduced to four times damage, down from eight times.
  • Lynx Rush had its damage doubled. This makes Lynx Rush a pretty decent talent choice for most specs.
  • Powershot had its focus cost reduced to 20 focus, down from 40, and the AoE damage was doubled (though the primary-target damage remains the same).
  • Thrill of the Hunt had its proc chance increased to 30%, up from 20%. This is probably not enough to make the talent worthwhile compared to Fervor and Dire Beast.
  • Beast Cleave was slightly buffed to do 30% pet damage to nearby targets, up from 25%.
  • Focus Fire has been buffed to boost haste by 6% per stack, up from 5%. This was in reaction to players' pointing out that using the ability could actually be a DPS loss. Blizzard said they'll be watching it to see if it needs to go higher yet.
What it means

For the most part, there is nothing terribly alarming or unusual about this. We're still in the beta and the latter parts of the beta is when Blizzard focuses on number tweaking in an attempt to bring everything into balance. This also highlights very clearly why it's still a bit too soon to pin down talent choices and other optimizations.

From a very preliminary look at the numbers, this was nearly a 15% drop in overall hunter DPS. Whether this is too much or not enough is hard to say, since other classes are also changing at the same time as hunters.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter 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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