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Scattered Shots: Hunter patch 5.2 changes

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+.

Patch 5.2 has been marinating on the PTR for long enough now that we have a fair idea of what all the hunter changes will be, as well as last week's revelation of new spirit beasts! So it's time (or past time) that we dig into it and see how the changes are going to affect the greatest class in WoW.

This patch is hitting at a time when the hunter class is doing pretty well. Nothing's ever perfect of course, but our raid DPS is pretty good, we can PvP better than we have in years and we can even launch our full-strength hail of death on the move for as long as we damn well please. And best of all we're not overpowered so we don't have to fear imminent nerfs. It's a pretty good time to be a hunter.

Nevertheless, we have some mechanical tweaks to our abilities in addition to the new taming challenges of the porcupine spirit beasts, so let's take a look at it.

New spirit beasts: spirit porcupines are for fite!

Before we get into the mechanical changes, let's address the most talked about addition in patch 5.2: the first new spirit beasts of Mists of Pandaria. We're getting a new porcupine spirit beast that comes in three different colors: blue, green, and red.

Taking a cue from the patch 4.2 pet taming challenges, these new spirit beasts each have a unique challenge that the hunter must overcome in order to tame them. All of the new spirit beasts cannot be tamed until they are reduced to 20% or less health. Of course they also come with huge health pools, so you'll have to kite them in order to tame them.

In addition to that, each of the spirit porcupines has an additional wrench to throw in your kiting that adds to the challenge:

  • The blue porcupine, Gumi, is found in the mountains of Kun-Lai. The restrictive mountain terrain means that you have to kite him along the twisting roads, forcing you to turn a lot while kiting. Gumi has a speed boost, so we hunters have to kite him while in Aspect of the Cheetah to stay ahead.
  • The green porcupine, Hutia, is found in the Jade Forest and comes with a big 'ol self-heal ability. Hutia can cast the self-heal on while moving, and the cast must be interrupted lest Hutia undo all the damage you've been dealing.
  • The red porcupine, Degu, is found in the Krasarang Wilds and is totally awesome. Like hunters of yore, he has a dead zone! Basically he has a hard hitting ranged ability (possibly Barbed Needle?) that he launches if you get too far away from him. But his melee attacks also hit brutally hard, and if you get too close he could one-shot you with a good crit. So the goal with Degu is find the goldilocks zone: not too close, not too far.
If you're interested in collecting the new spirit beasts, I highly recommend checking out Kalliope's rundown on the Petopia forums with maps of spawn locations and additional info. Also, for a better look at them, here's Kalliope's video of the cute little buggers:

The hunter patch notes

Here is the full list of hunter changes from the 5.2 patch notes:
  • Aimed Shot cast time has been been reduced to 2.5 seconds, down from 2.9 seconds.
  • Bestial Wrath may now be activated when there is no line of sight to the Hunter's pet.
  • Silencing Shot now has a 24-second cooldown, up from 20 seconds.
  • Binding Shot no longer has a Focus cost.
  • Wyvern Sting no longer has a Focus cost, and its cooldown is now 45 seconds, down from 60 seconds.
  • Glyph of Marked for Death has been removed and its effects are now baseline.
  • New Glyph: Glyph of Liberation. This glyph now causes Disengage to heal the Hunter for 5% of maximum health when used.
Many of these are pretty minor changes, including Binding Shot and Wyvern Sting (though I think those were needed changes). Bestial Wrath working out of line of sight is a nice little PvP buff. I'm a little disappointed to see the cooldown of Silencing Shot actually being increased, since at least from a raid perspective we rarely get to use it because the cooldown is already longer than the interrupts of other classes, like Kick, which also don't have the additional limitation of flight time.

On the other hand I'm thrilled to see that the Glyph of Marked for Death has been moved to a baseline ability (which was probably a good call, since it was essentially a "required" glyph). Additionally the new Glyph of Liberation is pure awesome! A 5% heal on Disengage is big fun. If you'll recall, the original Exhilaration talent was supposed to be a 15% heal on Disengage, so this is clearly a mechanics that the developers are fond of.

I think 5% is probably a pretty good place for this glyph. It's a handy bonus in PvP and anything that offers more self-healing will be welcomed in both raiding and extreme soloing. At 5% it's probably low enough that you won't want to Disengage every time your cooldown's up (the way it would have been at 15%) so we likely won't see hunters bouncing back and forth across every raid encounter. Much.

The return of Aimed Shot?

The other significant change is the lowering of Aimed Shot's cast time to 2.5 seconds base. This is an interesting move that seems to be intended to make Aimed Shot hard casting (casting the full 2.5-second version, rather than just using it when the instant version procs) more attractive. Currently most MM hunters will only hardcast Aimed Shot during the Careful Aim phase of a fight, or possibly when under the effects of large haste abilities like Rapid Fire.

The models that we have currently suggest that hardcasting Aimed Shot at other times is a DPS loss; however, it's not a very large DPS loss. The shortened cast time probably means that MM hunters will definitely want to hardcast aimed during large haste effects, and may very well spell a return to hardcasting as part of the MM rotation.

Keep in mind that the new Glyph of Aimed Shot lets MM hunters hardcast Aimed Shot while moving, so there's no longer a danger that we might have to interrupt a case to get out of the fire.

And hey, anyone remember when Aimed Shot was instant? Anyone remember when you were telling those instant Aimed Shot youngsters about when it was a 3-second cast?

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 leagues and play a hunter?

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