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Scattered Shots: Stampede me this

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 most awesome hunter news from Mists of Pandaria is without a doubt the removal of minimum range. But next on the list is Stampede, an ability that has been requested by mobs of hunters throughout WoW's history.

But then as soon as Stampede was implemented in the beta, hunters started complaining about the ability. In particular, the 10-minute cooldown turned a lot of vocal hunters against the ability. This ensures that Stampede cannot be reset by Readiness and that Stampede cannot be used in Arenas.

Lately Stampede has been the subject of much discussion, with Lead Systems Designer Ghostcrawler chiming in on the forums on the topic, and it looks like Blizzard may be reconsidering the design to accommodate hunters who want it to work differently.

And I think that's a bad thing. I strongly suspect that the result of changes to Stampede to placate our class is going to give us a worse ability. Here's why.

Stampede recap

For those who have not been following Stampede news and testing, here is a quick recap of how the ability currently works in the game: Stampede summons all of your (five) active stable of pets to attack your target for 10 seconds. It's a 3-sec cast with no focus cost and has a whopping 10-minute cooldown.
  • If you're SV or MM and have exotic pets in your stable, the exotic pets will not appear, and instead, duplicates of your active pet will fill that slot so that you never get screwed and have fewer pets appear.
  • The Stampede pets scale with hunter stats like normal pets.
  • The Stampede pets attack with their melee attack, and their basic attack (Claw, Bite, Smack) as well as any special ability, buff, or debuff that the pet brings. Note that these special abilities will only trigger if autocast was left turned on before the pet was dismissed.
  • The Stampede pets are not affected by Bestial Wrath, nor do they benefit from Beast Cleave and they can't Kill Command.
  • Ferocity-specced pets do more damage than cunning or tenacity, so having ferocity pets in the active stable yields more damage. There is a glyph that makes all Stampede pets copies of your active pets.
  • We've been told that if you're wiping on a boss fight, the Stampede cooldown will have a reset mechanic to ensure that you will be able to use it on every attempt.
Ghostcrawler weighs in

Right now, Stampede is a DPS cooldown that you get to use once in the course of a boss fight, and it lasts for just 10 seconds. Ghostcrawler recently weighed in on the hunter complaints about the cooldown being too long and the duration too short:

Based on feedback, we are going to try an implementation of Stampede where the pets have more uptime (some combo of [longer]duration and shorter cooldown) but are weaker than they would be individually.

So what is likely coming is the implementation that hunters have been calling for: a Stampede that lasts longer and has a reduced cooldown. Of course, the price for that is that Stampede will then do far less damage.

Because here's the thing that a lot of hunters don't seem to realize: Stampede does a frak-ton of damage. It is a fantastic DPS cooldown that lets you place your burst DPS with razor precision right when it's needed and in a way that has very little attention cost.

Of course, if a change like this makes Stampede usable in Arenas, that is going to be a flat-out win for PvP (although really, you're going to see a lot of classes easily neutralize it via avoidance or AoE rooting mechanics), but that's still far better than not having the ability at all. And a longer duration will give the Stampede pets the possibility of outlasting roots and slows.

But in the raiding PvE space, making our burst less bursty and more DoT-like is not usually a good thing. A 10-second duration massive burst can almost always be applied at the point in a fight where it will do the most good for the raid; the longer it lasts and less DPS it does, the less beneficial it is as burst DPS. This is particularly sad because burst DPS is something the hunter class has been lacking, particularly SV.

To sum up:

Right now Stampede is a massive burst DPS cooldown that can be used on every boss fight, once per fight. Very loud hunter feedback is likely to change it to something that will still be usable once per boss fight, but will have the damage spread out more, giving it about the same damage, but halving the DPS.

I think this blows. To me, it feels like the first time the hunter community has gotten together to demand that Blizzard make an ability worse for our class (and in the absence of balance issues). And of course, Blizzard appears to be listening. I still think Stampede is an awesome ability and I'm still happy that it's going to be in game, but the likely changes from hunter input sucks.

Unless you PvP. Then fair enough -- you should be happy. Grats.

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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