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Scattered Shots: MoP hunter changes galore

Brian Wood

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 beta has been out for about a week, and as you might expect, we are absolutely drowning in ridiculously awesome hunter info -- and all this despite the fact that there's still tons of hunter design yet to be done. The developers have wisely decided to scatter a bunch of bones for the support classes in the first beta build to keep them distracted and out of the developers' hair while they get to the real work of polishing the hunter class.

Still, there is so much hunter news that there is no way it will all fit in this column. I'm going to hit a bunch of the highlights -- the really awesome stuff, and the stuff we've been waiting for -- but if you're the kind of hunter who wants to know every expansion detail coming out of the beta, here are a few places that hunter Mists info is being collected:
  • WoW Hunters Hall Tabana is keeping the WHH stocked with every tidbit of hunter info from everywhere on the web, including some videos of our new abilities she unearthed.
  • MMO-C Hunter Thread Ren is doing a great job on the MMO-C forums of maintaining an updated list of hunter changes in the beta. Just remember not to obsess about the damage numbers there. Don't worry about DPS balance right now; it's all changing.
  • WHU's Mists of Pandaria Hunter Changes I'm also collecting a much more detailed list of all hunter changes over at the Warcraft Hunters Union that goes in more depth and is being regularly updated.
  • Petopia's MoP Board The fine community at Petopia is cataloging all the tamable pets that have been found in Mists.
Now, join me after the cut for the awesome info splat of the sweet, sweet hunter life in Mists of Pandaria.

What we don't know

If there's one thing experience has taught me, it's that no matter how much info we have, there is a small army of hunters who really want to know the info that we don't yet have. Just so you know I'm not neglecting your favorite part of the game, here is the info that we do not yet know or that we know has not yet been developed:

  • We don't know what's happening with pet talents. We've seen some early reports of some former pet talents being wrapped into baseline pet abilities, however.
  • We don't know what the rotations of any specs will be.
  • We don't know much info about any new pets or new spirit beasts. We saw what looks like a spirit beast model datamined by MMO-C, and every expansion brings us many, many new pet looks, however.
  • Blizzard has said that it's going to incorporate melee weapon stats into ranged weapons. We see no indication of this in the MoP ranged weapons that have been datamined. We don't know if Blizzard just hasn't gotten around to the change and the weapon folk went ahead on the old model, or if Blizzard have some other idea in mind for balancing those stats. It's too soon to complain about it. Really.
  • We don't know how our DPS will compare to other specs or classes. It's way too soon to be worrying about that. Right now is about getting big things in place and working, DPS balancing will come later. Related to this, some of our shots are doing a smaller percentage of weapon damage. This is not a nerf. Our ranged weapon DPS is supposed to increase to compensate.
New hunter abilities
  • Stampede Not necessarily called Stampede; we talked about this last week. Hunters are getting a new level 87 ability for all specs that will call out a bunch of pets at once for a short burst DPS on a long cooldown.
  • Beast Cleave Not just an Arena composition anymore, this level 24 BM ability reads: "After you Multi-Shot, your pet's melee attacks also strike all other nearby enemy targets for the next 5 seconds." This ability is sheer awesome for BM AoE and, I should note, almost certainly replaces the worm/chimera AoE, which is likely going away.
  • Steady Focus MM's new version of the much-maligned Improved Steady Shot. Steady Focus gives the same 15% haste boost but lasts 2 seconds longer (10 seconds) and lets your Steady Shots regen an extra 3 focus!
  • Viper Venom A new SV ability that regens 3 focus every time your Serpent Sting ticks for damage. It only works on one target at a time, so you can't just sting up everyone for endless focus.
Every one of these abilities are pure awesomesauce. One of the nice things I see here is that Blizzard is clearly working on making sure that all specs have methods to boost their focus regen in sustained fights. This was one of the complaints from the hunter class feedback thread and this should help give all specs much more leeway in their priority rotations. In fact, MM and SVs new focus regen abilities are so good that BM may even be a bit behind with Invigoration ... you know, back there with their Beast Cleaving Bestial Wrath/Readiness/Bestial Wrath Stampede of pets.

Changed hunter abilities

Of course in any expansion, it's not just about the new stuff but how the old stuff is changing. These are some of the most substantial changes in base hunter abilities:
  • Trap Launcher is now a toggled ability. When it's toggled on, all your traps are Trap Launcher traps (as if you had clicked Trap Launcher first). When it's toggled off, the traps drop at your feet.
  • Hunter's Mark now boosts damage by 5%, rather than a flat AP increase.
  • Aspect of the Hawk now boosts AP by 10%, rather than a flat amount.
  • Kill Command now works when your pet is within 25 yards of the opponent. The pet also dashes extra fast to the Kill Command target. No more annoying bugs when your pet's in melee but the game thinks it's not. Hopefully.
  • Bestial Wrath has had the cooldown lowered to 1 minute (down from the talented 1 minute, 24 seconds).
  • Black Arrow, as we discussed some time ago, now does direct damage to the target and does DoT damage both to the target and everything in its path. Lock & Load only procs off DoT ticks on the target, though. It also has a whopping 2-second cast time.
  • Trueshot Aura now provides 5% crit in addition to the 10% AP and is available to all hunter specs.
  • Rapid Fire has had its cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, down from 5 minutes.
  • Beast Mastery still lets you tame exotic pets, but instead of giving you four extra pet talents, you get the Longevity effect of reducing the cooldown of pet specials by 30%.
  • Kill Shot now behaves like the current glyphed Kill Shot, letting you fire two in a row.
[Update] More changes today! Arcane Shot now has the daze effect of Concussive Shot built into it (there's some confusion about whether this is built into the shot, or the new Arcane Shot glyph -- in Wowhead's datamining it shows up on both), and Black Arrow no longer has a cooldown!

There are other smaller changes to some abilities, but these are the huge ones. One of the consistent things that we're seeing across many of the hunter changes in Mists is how many of these changes are exactly what large groups of hunters complained about in the class feedback thread -- from Improved Steady Shot to Trap Launcher to Hunter's Mark and Aspect of the Hawk.

The changes to those last two are huge -- the fact that they provided a flat AP bonus had the effect of making hunter DPS a bit higher than it should be at lower gear levels and then lower at higher gear levels (necessitating buffs later in expansions). Now those abilities will scale with our gear.

Hunter talents

We got to take a look at the new talent trees, and there were several changes from the first incarnation we saw at BlizzCon. The Transmorph trap is gone, along with the entire level 90 tier, replaced with a new talent selection. Many other talents shifted around, and we notably lost Intimidation from the talent trees; we don't yet know if that ability will remain in the game or not.

Here are some of the highlights of new and changed talents. You can see the full talent list at the WHU MoP hunter talents page.
  • The level 90 tier is a choice of three AoE talents. Glaive Toss deals damage to all enemies between you and the target, slows them, returns back to you doing damage again, and if it hits at least two targets going out and coming back, its cooldown is reset. Powershot hits all enemies in a line between you and your target and knocks them all back (and will probably be verboten in most raids). Barrage is a channeled AoE that deals high damage to a target and lower damage to all surrounding targets -- and can be cast while moving when in Aspect of the Fox.
  • Lvl 75: A Murder of Crows: Summons a flock of crows to attack your target over the next 30 sec. If used on a target below 20% health, the cooldown will be reset. 60 Focus, 40 yd range, Instant, 60 sec cooldown.
  • Lvl 75: Call Beast: Summons a powerful wild animal to assist you in combat for 12 sec. Each time the animal deals damage, you will gain 2 focus. 30 yd range, Instant, 30 sec cooldown.
  • Lvl 75: Lynx Rush: Your pet rapidly charges from target to target, attacking 9 times over 4 sec, dealing its normal attack damage to each target. 100 yd range, Instant, 2 min cooldown.
  • Narrow Escape, a level 15 talent, webs all enemies within 8 yards when you Disengage.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera now reduces the cooldown of Disengage by 10 seconds and the cooldown of Deterrence by 1 minute.
  • Spirit Bond now regens 3% of max health to you and your pet every 2 seconds (compared to the current 2% every 10 seconds).
  • Fervor now has a 30-second cooldown, down from 2 minutes!
Hunter glyphs

As we learned earlier, all prime glyphs are gone, and with them the flat DPS increases. However, we got a slew of new major glyphs, and most of them are former hunter talents, like Pathfinding and Mirrored Blades. Mixed in are some sweet new glyphs, such as:
  • Endless Wrath While Bestial Wrath is active, your pet cannot be killed but can still be damaged.
  • Explosive Trap Your Explosive Trap also knocks enemies back from the trap when it explodes.
  • Icy Solace Your Freezing Trap also removes all damage over time effects from the target.
  • Aspect of the Cheetah Your Aspect of the Cheetah no longer causes you to be dazed when struck. Instead, the effect is cancelled and all your Aspects are placed on a 4-second cooldown.
You can see a full list of all the glyphs at the WHU MoP hunter glyphs page.

Like I said, there's a ton of information and a lot to say about much of it. However, I'm already horribly over my allowed word count for Scattered Shots. By next week (or possibly even by the time you read this), there will be lots more MoP beta info to go over and hopefully more time to get in depth about the ramifications.

In the meantime, remember that this is just the beta -- and the beginning of the beta, at that. Everything is subject to change, and there's a lot more hunter awesome yet to come.

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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