So I’ve had a lot of people on Twitter or even on my last post (which wasn’t even Q&A related!) ask me for my thoughts on the recent Hunter Q&A. Though at first I was sort of reluctant to do so, out of fear that maybe everybody and their grandma would have already blogged about it, I decided to go ahead and do it anyway. At the very least, you get to hear the thoughts of a casual raiding hunter who currently isn’t raiding and thus has to resort to playing her level 46 and level 76 hunters respectively, in the meantime. /cough

For the sake of length, I’m only going to be mentioning the aspects of the Q&A that interested me and/or I felt warranted some commentary from me. I apologize if your favorite part wasn’t mentioned. If you leave a comment asking for my thoughts on a certain thing, I would be glad to let you know my thoughts either in the comments, or in a future post. ^_^

We want to clean up some of the clunkiness that still exists around pet control (both the UI itself and what the pet does on the battlefield).

This is interesting, though to be honest what I am mostly looking forward to at this point is a revamp of the pet stats window that is a part of your character screen. I’d love to see my pet’s crit, haste, etc. Wouldn’t you?

We still want to make ammo more of a gear choice than a consumable. We’re not sure if this would be as simple as getting the 125 dps arrows to upgrade your 120 dps arrows, or if you would do things like swap between your fire and poison arrows… but that kind of thing is definitely on the table.

WTB Fire and Poison arrows. Like that’s not even me being reasonable and/or logical, that’s just an “OMGWANT.” Guys, have you ever played Ocarina of Time? Seriously!!

The problem with upgrading hunter ammo currently is how we work the progression. We don’t want to drop ammo on bosses for what I hope are obvious reasons so long as they are consumed. We need to have ammo improve as other gear improves, however, or the hunter overall starts to fall behind. Therefore there has to be some barrier that stops freshly leveled hunters from getting the best ammo while letting cutting-edge hunters procure it. In Burning Crusade, we handled this through a reputation grind, but it still wasn’t a very satisfying answer. In Wrath of the Lich King, we went with Engineer-crafted ammo and more recently changed the way ranged weapons scaled so that they would keep improving even if the ammo did not.

For 3.2 we lowered the cost of the ammo quite a bit — only 4 gold for a stack to manufacture. If you were paying 50 gold a night, that should drop to say 16 gold a night. Long-term this won’t be a problem because arrows won’t be consumed.

My ammo bag (Yes I still use my ammo bag *huggles it*) contains about two rows worth of the 1000-stacks of cheapie vendor bullets, and the rest is all Mammoth Cutters. I have an engineer friend that will send me free boxes of them on occasion, otherwise I’ll literally buy out the Auction House. Yeah, it’s pricey, but at least they last forever. I only use the Mammoth Cutters for raids or when I’m in a heroic with another good hunter (I get sooooo competitive around good hunters. I dunno if that’s good or bad.)

I’ll add that the melee attack issue for hunters themselves is something we keep discussing. While we are unlikely to go back to a melee-focused build for hunters, we might consider a model where hunters don’t run away most of the time but switch to melee attacks – perhaps even a single punishing attack on a cooldown before the hunter Disengaged or whatever. This would be one of those things that helped hunters feel more different than actual magic casters, and might make them care about melee weapons as more than stat sticks. Additional feedback from the community on this sort of thing would be appreciated.

I don’t really see what is wrong with us having a stat stick even for a physical-damage class. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but rogues and warriors have a “Stat-bow” or “stat-gun” right? Though, I sorta like the idea of having one hard-hitting melee attack pre-disengage. That sounds fun.

Q: Would we consider allowing auto-shoot to work while moving? If there aren’t plans for that specific change, is there anything in the works that will assist hunter dps in fights where a great deal of movement becomes necessary?

A: Moving should feel like a penalty. We don’t want ranged attackers constantly circle strafing FPS-style because it confers a defensive advantage without giving up an offensive one. Moving is supposed to be bad and how you handle it is a test of your skill.

Repressing my urge to run around is a difficult thing for me to do and is one of the reasons I love instant-casts and instant-cast-based classes (hai, resto druid) so much. But on the other hand, I do agree with the reasoning here, especially from a PvP standpoint. So yeah.

Q: Are there any long term plans to possibly removing the need for hunters to rely on a different resource system then mana?

A: I hate to do this to you, but this is a great BlizzCon question. For these Q&As, we’d like to keep the focus on each class’s current status and short-term plans, but at BlizzCon we’ll be happy to go into some more detail on our long-term vision for them.

What I’m about to say is going to cause a mass exodus from my blog, but ohwells:

I actually like hunters having mana right now, in endgame at least. (Leveling I will touch on in a moment.)

See, you know why I could never get into playing anything that relies on rage or energy or runic power? Because the whole experience is just my character saying “NOT ENOUGH ENERGY! I NEED MORE RAGE!!” over and over and over and me being frustrated because the button I want to click is grayed out. Sure, you have the comfort of knowing you’ll never “run out of mana”, but it’s not a big enough tradeoff for my extreme impatience.

I was one of the few people who liked the new Aspect of the Viper when they announced it in WotLK beta. I was one of the few people that defended it on the forums, and I got a lot of flak for it which is one of the reasons why I quit hanging out on the beta forums. It works nicely for me when you have a decent amount of mana replenishment going on, and I like it. /shrug

THAT SAID.

There are downsides. One downside is that if you lack outside mana replenishment, you feel like you are in Viper a lot, and it gets annoying. But to me, the biggest problem hunters have with mana right now BY FAR is leveling. Good luck finding old-world hunter gear with intellect on it, and good luck not being in AotV 75% of the time. My leveling hunters tote around stacks of mp5 food and mana oil and spec for ultimate mana efficiency at the cost of better talents and I’m still in Viper most of my time. Sure, we have no downtime, because we can still keep killing stuff while OOM or close to it. But you’re supposed to learn to enjoy your hunter partially because of those big numbers popping up on your screen. If you’re in Viper most of the time, it becomes silly. Not to mention stuff takes forever to kill.

My proposition: Either somehow make Viper work better with leveling, or for the love of the Earthmother, give us more intellect. Seriously.

/endrant

Now for hunters specifically, we think the class is just too cooldown limited, which creates problems with haste. We’ve driven in that direction in order to give hunters a more interesting rotation, and to be fair, we feel like we’ve done that. But being cooldown limited isn’t necessarily a fun way for the class to play and we think it’s one of those things that makes hunters feel more like casters than like ranged-weapon users. (Hunters are casters in the sense that they’re ranged dps, but we still want the emphasis to be on the gun or bow.) More on this at BlizzCon, too.

The class feels too global cooldown limited to me at times; by the time I can dig into my rotation it often feels like your average mob is half dead already. That’d be cool if haste lowered the global cooldown for us. I dunno if that would be OP or not. That’s for Blizz to figure out, not me. (Can you tell I know nothing about theorycrafting? XD)

MudkipComputerGame

(breaking up the wall of text with a non-sequitur picture!)

Q: Beast Mastery falls behind Marksmanship and Survival in regards to DPS, especially when the pet dies, due to how much damage comes from the pet when specialized in the Beast Mastery talent tree. Do we have plans to bring the potential damage the Beast Mastery tree offers to be more on par with what’s currently possible with Survival and Marksmanship?

A: Ideally, we want Beast Mastery to be able to do competitive damage with Survival and Marksmanship. Realistically with dps classes, it’s a math problem, and one tree nearly always edges out the other ones in most situations. That doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it also means we have to be realistic about what it will take to really get the specs to within 1% dps of each other, which is sometimes the point I fear we’d need to hit.

The buffs to Catlike Reflexes and Wild Hunt were intended to boost Beast Mastery a little without causing every hunter in the game to swing back to Beast Mastery the way they all swung to Survival a few patches ago. We don’t necessarily like buffing Beast Mastery through the pet all the time. However, Beast Mastery also doesn’t have a signature attack like Chimera or Explosive Shot. At the same time, we don’t necessarily want to give them one because then Arcane Shot risks just vanishing from the hunter rotation. But, we can’t just buff Arcane Shot (unless it is very deep in Beast Mastery) because Survival and Marks use that too. See the problem? Ultimately the tree is supposed to be about pets, so we would rather make the pet easier to control and give the hunter ways to get the pet out of trouble so that they don’t face the profound dps loss of pet death. And even then, having a pet that is 50% or more of your dps is always going to have design problems, so we can’t go overboard. Beast Mastery and Demonology (and even the Unholy death knight) are going to be at a greater loss when their pet dies. That’s just the cost of having a more powerful pet.

I know not everyone here agrees with me, but it made me extremely happy to see that little phrase “We don’t necessarily like buffing Beast Mastery through the pet all the time.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love having my pet be 35%, 40% or so of my damage. I love when there is synergy between hunter and pet and we proc things that make one another stronger. But lately it feels like Blizz has just been buffing the pet and buffing the pet even more and hey guess what, we’re buffing the pet again!… and pretty soon we’re going to get up to that uncomfortable point where we were at the beginning of WotLK where my pet was doing 55% of our total DPS on Patchwerk and it just felt so very, very… “Well, I may as well sit here and read a book while my pet does the work.” Ya know? I want to see the Beast Master hunter get some love too. I want to see more things that the pet does give the hunter some sort of beneficial effect. That’s why I fell in love with the tree in the first place and I haven’t been seeing it lately and it’s left me a somewhat unsatisfied Beast Master.

It does also make me happy to see that Blizz is aware of BM needing a buff. That’s really all the reassurance I need. Yeah, it may take ‘em a while to get around to it, but I’m in no rush.

We’d rather not have to come up with additional mechanics needed to heal pets or keep them alive. We’d rather just the pet didn’t die in situations where a player that can make intelligent choices wouldn’t have died.

Awesome idea, thanks Blizz <3

I would also like to add, I've been thinking lately it may not be a bad idea to just take Improved Revive Pet and Improved Mend Pet and make the effects of those baseline for all hunters and replace them with DPS talents in the BM tree. In my mind, every hunter of every spec should be making an equal amount of effort to keep their pet alive anyway. (Which is why I never use the “Beast Master is difficult to play because we have to have pet control” argument on this blog– I think all hunters have to have pet control. But maybe that’s just me.)

Hunters in the online community tend to focus a lot on overall PvE dps or overall PvP survival and not get too much into pet comparisons. Someone theorycrafts the best pet and then hunters just go and get it instead of discussing what the other pets would need to be more competitive. To be fair, there is some of that discussion, but it’s not always easy to find, and I have looked. It’s not super high priority given some of the other hunter design issues we’re looking at, but we do want pets to be a choice.

Translation: HAY GUYS LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS. No, I’m serious. Though it sorta surprises me that Ghostcrawler is having trouble finding this stuff online, I see people talk about it all the time. Perhaps our ol’ crab buddy is looking in all the wrong places.

Q: Due to the number of abilities available to hunters, many level 80 players have expressed concerns in regards to placing all necessary abilities on their action bars. Are there any improvements coming that will assist hunters with this particular issue?

A: We recognize this as a problem. We need to get more buttons off of the bar. We made some progress with streamlining say tracking and aspects, but we’re not there yet.

An aspects bar, maybe up by our pet bar, would be cool.

Q: Additionally, do we plan to expand upon the number of pet action bar slots? Due to the current number of slots available for pets, hunters frequently have to swap pet abilities in and out of their spell/ability book.

A: Yes, we definitely want to do this. The whole pet bar needs a little work. There are still some bugs relating to which abilities can be moved on or off the bar and whether they default to autocast or not. We want the bar to work much more like character action bars.

Sounds good to me.

Q: Do we have plans to increase the number of stable slots available to hunters?

A: Obviously we increased it a lot in Wrath of the Lich King. We want to try and keep the pet as some kind of decision — they aren’t supposed to be like mounts or titles where you just collect as many as you want. We expanded the size so that players could have say a Tenacity pet for soloing and a Ferocity pet for raiding, but we don’t want every hunter to have every family available here. Now one potential problem are the Spirit Beasts, which are collected by hunters and not trivial to replace. We have also discussed expanding the Spirit Beast concept to have rare skins of other pet families (that otherwise don’t convey a combat bonus). If we do that, we’d probably have to expand the stable slots.

We’ve also considered a model where the hunter doesn’t even need a stable and can work more like a warlock where they can just summon their pets whenever they want — with the remote stable ability from the dual-spec feature, we’re pretty close to that already. If we went this route then maybe the stable could just become pet storage in the same way your bank has all those Invader’s Scourgestones and Zul’Gurub bijous that you don’t use often but can’t bear to part with.

I am on two minds with this. On the one hand, I like the general idea of having a limited number of stable slots. That way, not every hunter has every pet in the game. On the other hand… well, lemme put it this way. You know how many hunters I have? You know how many times I STILL agonize about my lack of stable space across all my hunters? Yeah.

My own little suggestion and solution for this would be to make it so you still have your five stable slots, but then you could re-obtain any pet you had previously released via the Stable Master. Hey, they say they help you find lost pets and companions, right? =P You would have to release one of your current pets to make room in your stable for it, but then you would get your previously-released pet back at whatever level it was when you released it. I’d give this service some sort of slowly-increasing fee akin to talent point re-spec’ing just so it doesn’t become an extended stable slot and you’d still have to put some thought into it. And you couldn’t access any of said released pets mid-raid via Call Stabled Pet. So you’d have your five pets “at the ready” and then any of your past pets you could get from the Stable Master for a cost. That way, the hunters who spent forever taming Loque only to never use him in a raid, would feel better about releasing him, knowing they could get him again without having to do the camping thing again.

I dunno, it seems fair to me.

And that’s that! Like I said, these are just my thoughts on the matter. No doubt most people disagree with at least one or two things I said, and that’s fine. I’m in somewhat of a unique position right now, and on top of that, we all have our own differing thoughts on the state of the game, and it’s good to have those differing opinions.

And with that Wall of Text, Pike is out!

9 Responses to “Aspect of the Hunter Q&A! (Wall of Text Inc)”
  1. The pet-diversity thing is what bugs me about hunters right now. It seems like a lot of hunters don’t care about pet control, beyond “I guess if my pet is dead I don’t get the raid buff it gives”. When you think of your pet as a walking buff dispenser instead of an actual component of your character, you’re missing half the point of being a hunter, as far as I’m concerned.

  2. Harvok says:

    soooo…Pike…. I herd you liek Mudkipz…

  3. Armond says:

    ICE FUCKING CUBE ARROWS GET.

  4. clra2 says:

    WTB BM unique instant shot!! PST!!

  5. Theaah says:

    I want a snake arrow because, dude. Shooting snakes at people? Pure awesome.

  6. Chapooke says:

    Thanks so much for posting your thoughts. I really love playing my hunter – even now I’m surv instead of BM – but if BM were just a little more dpssy then I’d go back in a flash.

    <3

  7. Ziboo says:

    Nice write up Pike.

    Crossing fingers that BM does become more viable. <3 that spec!

    Really want endless arrows. I do like having a quiver (should show on the toon though imho), but hate buying arrows all the time – do dailies a couple of instance runs, raid and questing – 2-3K arrows easy to use. On my server 100g+ just for arrows and we still have repair bills!

  8. Voldenmist says:

    Great nice long read…kept me interested, good work again pike.

    Want to throw out an idea and also agree with you on one point…but in order. :P

    The whole arrow situation, you know, I was thinking of how they could implement it and still be fair and not a total chore to keep switching arrows (or forgetting too) for different occasions and to not have ONE arrow be the best. Not to mention how to keep it progression centric like they said they wanted. And I think I came up with a good idea: Make on-use items that enchants arrows for wither a limited time or have so many charges. The arrows themselves could be turned into one item (like thrown weapons) with either huge or no durability, which could still be bought by a vendor, or a slightly powerful arrow made from engineering (or bullets, respectfully) and then just have the on-use enchant put onto the arrow, so it will not make hunters OP in all situations and be mainly for raids. They could also prevent certain on-use ammo items in PVP/arenas to help keep that “balanced.” And here’s the hook, these on use items would have to be MADE! have each profession have the ability to make at least one on-use ammo item that have close to the same effect in some ways but can be buffed through stacking. Examples: Let JC’s make a diamond tip arrow/bullet that sometimes put a bleed on the target. Let Enchanters make one that would encase your arrow in ice, sometimes slowing your target (PVP!). Give the people you know inscription be able to make one that put an inscription on your ammo to either increase your haste. Give Engineers the schematic to make one that would set your ammo on fire. Rogues could make a hunter-only poison (or could be bought as the default item). And lastly, give those who know a high level first aid able to make and on-use ammo item that could sometimes heal your pet when your shots hit (would help with pet survivability). I think these would also help out with hunters being so situational and could help out with specific situations. These are just some of my ideas and examples on these ideas. This would also help keep professions viable to hunters (the fear of eng loosing out due to no more ammo won’t happen and more professions could “profit”). These on-use items should also be able to be cheaply made in a sense that the only real part to make these should be some sort of item I have jokingly named the “ammo sphere” that could drop off of raid bosses and/or trash that could be used or opened to either make the on-use items or have random ingredients to make said items held within. That way they could still be obtainable but easier and cheaper to those who raid with the progression levels. Items could also have certain ranks for different progression levels.
    (phew..and you thought you had a wall of text…I’ll be copying and pasting this on the official forums and I’ll add a link here so go bump it if you like this idea. If that’s okay Pike?)

    Okay, not so much now. I agree with you on the whole mana issue…seriously…if hunters had energy or rage, I wouldn’t be playing them, and if they get it or a similar mechanic, I don’t think I could continue playing them for feeling like a brand new class and I hate to reroll…which might mean I may no longer play…but who knows.

    Oh, and Y.

  9. Rubyoptics says:

    Great read pike, and voldenmist i love some of those ideas! A great way to make professions more inter-dependant again as well. On the original post, here’s my two-pence worth….I think that while a lot of the new idea that have come from blizz relating to the hunter class have been a good thing (pet talent trees being one prime example) i think at the same time there is a risk of making us fall even further into that “easy-mode huntard” role that people already percieve us to fill. I mourn the loss of training you pet the old fashioned way as i felt it strengthened the bond between me and my beloved Loki even further…that i was devoting so much time and energy for his benefit didnt cause me to stress out so mch as fill me with excitement to moment i could infer “claw – rank” to his fluffy little self. Coupled with the old “hunters can now mash steady-shot”quote it seems that a lot of the skill NEEDED to play our class is being taken away from us, another example of this being the complete redundancy for any need for CC in Wotlk. I just wonder what direction Blizzard plans on taking us and our beloved hunters?
    And pike, im glad to see im not the only one still wandering around with a quiver ;)

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