Category Archives: specs

Shaking the Ol’ Talent Tree

Hey guys, let’s go back.

wotlk talents

Let’s go back even further:

tbc talents]Let’s go waaaaaay the heck back:

vanilla talentsAhh, remember these?  Love ’em or hate ’em, the old talent trees were a true part of our Warcraft experience if you’ve been playing for any substantial length of time.

I got thinking of these thanks to a conversation I was having on Twitter.  There are a lot of memories that come with these old talent trees – both good and bad.  I remember how excited I was to make myself or my pet just that much more powerful every level.  I remember devising specific leveling specs, PvP specs, and raiding specs.

I also remember how innately “tied” to your spec these really made you feel.  One of my earlier blog posts to make a real splash in the community, written a whopping seven and a half years ago, details how the symbiotic hunter/pet nature of the BM talents was why it was my favorite spec.

These days, though, I’m BM not because I like the talents so much as because, hey, I’ve been playing it for years and years and I know how to play it, and I do pretty well with it, so why switch?  It’s not the most inspiring reason in the world, I know.

I dunno, I’m not exactly pining for the old talents or anything.  But it is kind of a fun thing to look back on.

Wanna go back in time and play around?  Have fun!

Wot I Think: The New Talent Tree

So I’m gonna steal a page from the wonderful RockPaperShotgun‘s book here and tell you, well… what I think about a certain something.  Today’s topic?  The New Talent Tree which everyone loves to hate!

You are staring into the abyss-like eyes of the worst thing to happen to videogaming since Pac-Man on the Atari 2600.

Okay, okay, let’s cut the theatrics.  I’m going to tell you what Blizz was going for with this.  What they were going for was as follows: “Oh hey, EVERYBODY who uses this spec takes this talent.  So since EVERYBODY takes it, we’ll just give it to that spec by default.”  That’s really it.  They didn’t sit around and have an evil laugh and make nefarious plans about how to homogenize the specs.  The specs are still intact; you just get the stuff you were going to get anyway without having to click on it.  That’s all.

That said, there is certainly something to be said for, well… the excitement of getting a new talent point at every level and getting to click on it.  Heck, there’s even something to be said for those old talents from back in the day that increased your crit chance by 1/2/3/4/5%.  Blizzard cut that stuff out because they thought it was boring, but those incremental number changes were exciting to me and to a lot of other people.  They made you feel like you were progressing.  Why do you think people get all excited for gear that stands a mere incremental number change above other gear?

The Long and Short of It (That’s What She Said): I miss the old talent trees but I’m certainly not sitting around crying as though someone just shot my dog.  And it’s definitely not the end of the world.  Also, A Murder of Crows is smurfing awesome. Do you remember the movie “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story”, and how at the end a bunch of crows came and landed on the bad guy and then he disappeared? Yeah. That is this. Awesome.

A Survival Is Fine Too

…terrible and geeky title references aside, I spec’d my Horde hunter Survival because, well… currently she’s Survival due to RP reasons. (You know, as “RP Reason” as I can get away with for somebody who never actually roleplays.)

So I was dinking around with Survival and originally I wasn’t actually impressed. In fact, I bought dual spec (cheap now!) and went Beast Mastery, haha.

But then I figured “Dude, Pike, your main character is Beast Mastery, just give Survival a shot on your secondary character. Gosh already.”

So I started to practice with Survival. I reforged up to some Mastery and then the hunter hotfix came through the other day making things even yummier.

The Verdict:

Survival is currently hilarious.

Reason #1 Why Survival is Currently Hilarious:

This is my casual character who has never raided and is in a bunch of like… Triumph badge gear and the super old Nesingwary gun.. And yet when I pop trinkets and Lock and Load procs my DPS goes through the roof. Like, 8k. It’s freaking hilarious. Of course, then it dips down to a number that is lower but still very respectable.

Reason #2 Why Survival is Currently Hilarious:

Improved Serpent Sting + Serpent Spread.

Improved Serpent Sting makes your Serpent Sting do instant damage on first hit, like a normal shot. Serpent Spread makes your Multi-Shot put Serpent Sting on everything. Take these two talents and go Multishot into a giant group of mobs. I promise you will clap your hands and start giggling.

…I was going to have a Reason #3 but right now those are actually the only two reasons I can think of. The extremely high focus cost of Explosive Shot negates some of the fun, I think. That said, I really enjoy the spec. Almost as much as Beast Mastery.

Next up: Marksmanship!

Beast Mastery Stuff 4.0

Okay I’ve played around with Beast Mastery a bit in heroics and stuff and I have some tips for it. Note that this is not a comprehensive guide and I haven’t done any rooting around EJ or any real math or anything.


Beast Mastery is now providing a very different playstyle than it has in the past. See, we used to be all about burst. Now, we’re all about ramping up. Your AoE damage is gonna suck now that we’ve lost Volley and MultiShot is expensive, focus-wise. Your DPS is probably gonna suck if your group is full of warlocks doing 10k on bosses (did I mention that I’m back to leveling my warlock? >.>) and thus the bosses die within ten seconds. Where your DPS is going to shine is on longer fights that allow you to use Focus Fire, get some of those tasty Kill Command crit procs (can’t think of the name right now), and take advantage of the new Glyph of Kill Shot which is ridiculous and awesome.

In addition we have a lot of fun procs and a lot of fun buttons to press and while I still dislike the mechanic of Focus (until I get used to it anyway) I’m liking all the new stuff-to-do. I’ve spent some quality time with all three specs and I can honestly say that I find the new Beast Mastery to be the most fun– and I’d like to think that I’m not being biased when I say that, seeing that I really fell in love with Survival a couple months back.


Basically on a single-boss fight you are spamming Arcane and using Kill Command when it’s up. Use Bestial Wrath when it’s up. View Steady Shot as a “Mini-Viper” of sorts (that made the transition to using Focus easier for me). I.E., when your gas tank is starting to run dry, pop a couple of Steadies to get it back up to speed. Use Focus Fire when you see the icon light up. I had a comment ask if they had to be watching their pet’s Frenzy stacks now– no, you don’t, as far as I’m aware, because Blizzard is nice and made it so you get a big shiny glowy effect on your Focus Fire button when you can use it. (Note: you also get the big shiny glowy effect when your Kill Command “Killing Streak” thing procs.)

Just like I view Steady Shot as a new Mini-Viper, I also view Fervor as a Mini-Readiness of sorts, because it restores Focus to you and gives you a few extra seconds of Fun Stuff To Do. That is, I’ll pop it a few moments into a Boss Fight, as follows:


The Beast Within ->
Rapid Fire/Any Trinkets ->
Serpent Sting ->
Spam Arcane and use Kill Command when it’s up ->
Once Beast Within fades, pop Fervor… this will give you a little more juice now that you’re not getting the Focus cost reduction from TBW anymore. ->
Right around here Focus Fire is gonna light up, so use that. ->
Go back to Arcane/Kill Command and Steady as necessary. Serpent Sting again if you’ve got a ways to go on the boss. ->
Optional: Check Recount and feel special.

Pretty straightforward; scoop up the talents that give you DPS increases. Really the only choice you’ll be making is Spirit Bond vs. Improved Mend Pet. As usual I’m addicted to the latter but I imagine most people will pick the former, or perhaps put one point in each.

I had five non-Beast Master points left over, which I dumped into Go for the Throat and Efficiency.

Right now for Prime Glyphs I’m using Kill Shot, Steady Shot, and Arcane Shot. They’re sexy.

I’m using this. Use at your own risk because I sort of just made it up as I went along.

Corehounds are the current New Hotness because they get Bloodlust/Heroism. A lot of pets get a lot of great stuff though, check out this chart for details (I didn’t make it):

…of course, really the chart should have a line that says something to the effect of “Are you Pike -> Yes -> Use Whichever Pet is Prettiest” because you guys have to remember that I’m that person who refused to use a wolf throughout the entire duration of WotLK because I thought dinosaurs were much more awesome, so…

…yeah. *coughs*

I’m not sure if it’s bugged or what but Kill Command sure likes to tell me I’m “out of range” and the like when I try to use it. DISREGARD THAT, just wait to use Kill Command until your pet is actually attacking something.

Also my pets seem to be dying a lot.

Dunno, I’ll get back to you on those.

Okay, I think that’s about it. Questions/comments/rants/raves/rambles? Lemme know! *points to commenting link*

Ye Olde Obligatory First Impressions Post

1. Huh, so now that I avoided it the first night let’s log in and see the damage. Druid first.

2. Wow, not a big fan of new resto. Instant Cast Regrowth with Tree is nifty but eeeeeeeehhhh. Let’s try Boomkin.

3. …

4. …

5. …omg…


7. OMG





12. *takes a break and takes some deep breaths*

13. Okay, let’s try hunter out.

14. *spends about an hour messing with all three hunter specs and figuring things out*

15. Okay, I’m doing roughly equal DPS on all three hunter specs. Slightly more with Beast Mastery. I’m probably doing something wrong.


17. …slight across the board DPS increase. Not as drastic as I was expecting.

18. AHAHAHA having to hit Kill Command in time when the buff procs is giving me Burning Crusade flashbacks.

19. So Beast Mastery suddenly has a ton of buttons to press. I like it but it will take some getting used to.

20. I SO WANT TO TAME MORE PETS. …but I don’t know what I want to tame… eh… guess I’ll wait on that.

21. …

22. …

23. …so uh, I want to play my moonkin.

24. *logs off, runs to job interview*


Hi dead blog! *pokes with stick*

I figured I should write something. So here I am. Hooray! And as a bit of a double bonus, I figured I’d return to my roots and actually write something huntery. Double Hooray! So intense!

So, here’s the deal. As of now, I sort of consider myself to be a… triple-spec’d hunter. As we probably all know by now, I have two level 80 hunters. Well, Tawyn‘s been rocking her Beast Mastery main spec and her Marskmanship Fun spec. And for a while, poor neglected Lunapike was rocking the Beast Mastery spec as well. But of course, right?

Well, recently I blew the dust off of the latter and decided to start playing her again. At that point, I hadn’t seriously played her in months, so she was decked out in a bunch of super-old-school stuff like dungeon blues, heroic purples, and Nesingwary. Spec’d Beast Mastery she was getting maybe 3k in heroics, which is like… half of what Tawyn does on a lazy day. Beast Mastery is a fickle, gear-dependent creature.

Anyways I sort of missed big numbers and I was feeling ambitious and I knew I didn’t have the gear for Marksmanship so I went Survival. Yup. Now for those of you just tuning in, my grumblings about Survival are pretty well-known. I’ve ranted about it many-a-time in this blog: how much I dislike the rotation and basically find it un-fun in every way. It’s why Tawyn’s dual spec is Marskmanship.

…so I’m not sure what I was smoking when I decided to go Survival, but go Survival I did, and you know what? This time around I really enjoy it. I’m not even sure why. I think it finally “clicked”. I mean, in essence it’s a very similar rotation to Beast Mastery, except that stuff is on lower cooldowns, so you have to be a bit quicker on your feet… and you get Lock and Load. By the way, Lock and Load is super fun. It’s tied to Black Arrow, so once you figure out how best to use that one, you’re good to go.

I can also see why SV is the recommended “Freshly Minted 80 Hunter” spec. Upon spec’ing it and heading into dungeons, it was basically like… Go Directly to 50% more DPS, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. It was very plug-and-play.

Anyways, I have also rediscovered my love of level 80 PvP. I love pre-50 BGs to death, but the endgame stuff with all the resilience and everything was never really my bag. But I did so many BGs on Lunapike this last weekend, and had a blast. It feels like I have a ton of toys to play with as Survival.

But yeah. Sorry for the massive TLDR. I’d break this up with pictures but WoW is down and I’m too lazy to go hunting through my screenshot folder.

If you want me to write about something in specific, lemme know, because I’m having a terrible time coming up with stuff to put in this blog lately. Just keep in mind that I’m still pretty much retired-from-raiding so super intense strategy guides are probably out, but most everything else is open game.

But I Don’t Feel Like You Failed Me, Blizz

So I was browsing MMO-Champion and stumbled upon this blue post:

The only specs we really failed on in LK raiding were Frost mage, Subtlety rogue, BM hunter and Arms warrior.

…and I thought, “BM hunter? Really?”

I mean, I know tons of people see it that way, but I don’t.

Here is a handy list of stuff I raided as a Beast Master hunter:

  • Naxx
  • Obsidian Sanctum
  • Obsidian Sanctum hard modes back when they were still semi-hard
  • Eye of Eternity
  • Ulduar up through about half of Yogg
  • Various Ulduar hard modes (back when they were still hard)
  • VoA
  • Onyxia
  • ToC
  • Various ToC hard modes
  • ICC, the two times I went in there before I quit raiding

I dunno Blizz, I appreciate the concern, really, but I don’t feel like you failed me. I mean, maybe you did for that dark period between 3.0.8 and when you started giving us consolation buffs (although that didn’t stop me from raiding as Beast Master), but now that we’ve reached the end of WotLK, the spreadsheet has proven that a geared BM hunter does just as much DPS as a geared Survival hunter.  Tons of raiding hunters still play Survival, don’t they? Even though Marks has shown to outstrip it?

See, ultimately what bothered me the most about “spec issues” this entire expansion wasn’t the game mechanics so much as it was a good portion of the playerbase. If you had a problem with raiding BM hunters during the Ulduar era or even during the ToC era, then fine– my guild and I operated differently, but I can see where you were coming from.

But then ICC showed up, BM got more buffs, BM became essentially equal in DPS to SV, and yet blogs/forums were still only posting strats for MM and SV while ignoring BM, and various people in game were still picking on BM while gladly accepting SV raiders.

Yeah. I’m not seeing any logic here. (Please let me know if you see it, so I can correct it and put my foot in my mouth.)

Anyways, enough about that. I don’t raid anymore, and I don’t really seriously play my hunters anymore, so ultimately this doesn’t affect me, other than finally allowing me to get something off of my chest that has been bothering me the last few months. I guess I just wanted to say that I just found it odd that Ghostcrawler lumped BM hunters in with, say, sub rogues and frost mages, who, from what I understand, have it FAR worse off than we do. So yeah, don’t worry about it too much, Blizz. All’s good in hunterland. Go work on our frosty and stealthy friends.

Well, that’s all for now on one of my rare excursions into WoWblog-land recently. I have to admit, blogging here feels kind of odd lately. It truly does feel like what Aspect of the Hare used to be left back in February when I went on hiatus, and I don’t think it’s coming back, even if I do keep blogging here. Not to say that’s a bad thing. I just want to overhaul the blog and shift the focus a bit. I think more story posts are in order. You know, like “Once upon a time, there was this PuG…”


Oh Pike, How Dost Thou Level?

Veeeeerrrry slowly.

Ahem. Sorry. That wasn’t the point of the post. >.> Although it is quite true.

Any-whotsit, I get a frequent amount of e-mail or comments asking about how one should go about leveling a hunter, and with my latest TreePost I’m also getting some questions on how one levels a Tree. So I figured I’d give it a quick rundown!

Hunter is something I’ve leveled a bajillion times by now and I can toss up a leveling talent spec in my sleep. It typically goes something like this: dump 5 points in Lethal Shots (because I’m a Crit Monster), and then head down a “modified” version of “Beast Master Raid”. By modified, I mean 5/5 Endurance Training (instead of 5/5 Improved Aspect of the Hawk), and 3/3 Thick Hide. I used to also do 2/2 Spirit Bond but at this point I think Animal Handler is the stronger talent, even when leveling, and with Endurance Training and Thick Hide, most things would be hard-pressed to kill your pet anyway, especially if you choose to go all out and nab a Glyph of Mending.

My current casual hunter project is a level 55 hunter named Althalor; here is his talent spec thus far. (Gosh it’s nostalgic to see 41 points in Beast Mastery.)

Now remember, you really can’t go too wrong with a leveling spec. It’s not like Elitist Jerks is sitting around theorycrafting the most efficient ways to kill ten kobolds. Although that would amuse me.

Beast Mastery is obviously not your only option here. Tawyn leveled to 58ish as Marksmanship. Leveling Survival seems to be super in vogue now from inspecting the lowbies I see running around; I worry about potential pet-threat issues once you get Explosive, but hey, it’d make a great challenge I’m sure!

“I’m a level one hunter and have no idea where to start! Help me Pikey-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!” is another similar question/plea I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot. My answer here would be to direct you to my 12-part “So You Want to Play a Hunter” series, which will walk you step by step through playing a hunter from levels 1 – 70.

Caveats About Said Guide: This was written pre-WotLK, so a.) it only takes you up to 70, and b.) Some of the stuff regarding things like Auto/Steady shot weaving, certain levels at which you learn things, and a few abilities are not present or are significantly different. Still, most of the lowbie stuff is relatively accurate, and it’s the best I can offer until someone ties me to my desk and kicks me into rewriting the thing for WotLK.

Resto Druid
Most people will tell you to either level Feral and tote around a healing set for instances, or level Balance. Pike will tell you that there is nothing that will teach you to heal the way leveling full blown Resto and living in LFG and healing instances will. This is why if I plan on being a healer at end game, I level as a healer. The experience is invaluable.


I do make a few tweaks here, although it depends rather on your style of how-you-will-(slowly)-kill-things-between-healing-dungeons.

If your style is to nuke things to death as a mini-moonkin, then you may want to stick to your standard resto spec, albeit maybe getting your Balance points out of the way first, or tweaking Balance a bit so you have the shortened cast time on Wrath/Starfire. Completely acceptable.

If you tend to do as I do and play as a RestoKitty, I’ll fill out 5/5 Naturalist and sometimes Furor as well. Neither of these talents are ones you will have at as a level 80 tree, however, they make leveling go considerably smoother. Some RestoKitties have even gone one or two tiers into Feral as well, though I’ve yet to try this myself.

As a RestoKitty, it may be to your benefit to keep some of the Rogue-ish gear you will no doubt acquire in your questing and travels and toss it on when you have to do a quest. When you combine that with a RestoKitty-ish spec, your solo’ing and questing– while it won’t be blazing fast– also won’t be as gimpy as people tend to assume it is, at least in my experience.

A word of warning, however: RestoKitty does become more difficult to pull off as you get higher in levels, so it may be worth your while to switch to the spellcasting method of solo’ing once you hit 60 or 70, or look into dual-specs.

Other options: RestoKin/Dreamstate typically involves going deep enough into Balance for Moonkin Form and then dumping the rest of your talent points into Restoration; something akin to this. This makes you a versatile, Red Mage-styled, jack of all trades who can heal pretty dang well and still kill things relatively quickly. I couldn’t do this myself, partially because I’m too in love with Tree Form and partially because I’m also in love with Wild Growth, however, I’ve heard that it’s very effective and might be something you want to look into.

RestoFeral is considerably rarer, and from what I can tell involves things like Nurturing Instinct and going about half deep in each tree. The lack of overlap between gear and talents would, I think, make this more unwieldy than RestoKin, but some people have done it, and it might be worth a shot if you really like RestoKitty.

Hokays! I hope that helped a bit and/or was able to clear some things up. Lemme know if I made some dire mistake (like saying Naxx boots dropped from Karazhan, not like I’ve uh, ever done that before of course >_>;;), in the meantime, I’m off to go read more Jules Verne <3

Hellooooooo Beast Mastery

So I’ve done a bunch of heroics so far today. One of them was Heroic Violet Hold, which I’ve done a lot and frequently use as a sort of DPS test strip.

Ya know what I was getting when everything (Bestial Wrath, Call of the Wild, etc.) was popped, and with otherwise no outside buffs? 3800 dps. Ya know what I normally get on ten-man Patchwerk when fully raid-buffed? 3800 dps. All and all I was consistently seeing between a 400 and 500 dps increase simply from the buffs to Animal Handler and Wild Hunt. (I don’t think the new Catlike Reflexes will be worth dropping points from other things to put points into… but I’ll probably test it and/or spreadsheet it at some point.)

Eeeeeeee I can’t wait to see what I’d get on ol’ Patchy now O_O

In other news, have you ever seen your pet crit for well over 1000? Multiple times in a row? You’re about to.

It feels so good to be a Beast Master again and not feel like I’m dragging everyone down. No more having to spec Marksman– as much as I did enjoy it, it wasn’t the same– in the name of the raid. We’re Big, We’re Red, We’re Back.

*happy Pike*

Of course, the big question is whether we still lag behind the other two specs in a raid situation. My initial inkling is that we do, however, I don’t think we will as substantially as before. It all remains to be seen, though. I was invited to a guild 25man Ulduar on Friday, but I work that night, so I’ll be unable to go test. All’s well, though, I’m probably way undergeared anyway… best get my feet wet in a ten-man first. *nod*

Preemptive Edit: Because I have a feeling people are going to ask, here’s my spec.

Lessons Learned

Marksmanship Week wraps up with a VoA10 yesterday where I did a pretty dang good job– I was in the lead on Recount by a large margin on both Archavon and Emalon, and some of my long-time friends who were in the group commented on my sudden noticeably big jump in DPS. Yes, where Survival failed to bring the increased numbers, Marksmanship delivered– a lot.

And so we reach the end of this great Spec Experiment. Things I’ve learned?

– Marksmanship is definitely replacing Survival as my dual spec. I don’t need to be the raid group’s emergency replenishment bot when I don’t have a raid group anymore. >.>

– I was using my wolf this whole time as part of my experiment to really try to min/max this as much as possible, but I miss my raptor so much that I will probably go back to using him full time. Furious Howl has a cooldown, but Raptor cuteness is forever <3 - I was sort of expecting to spec back to BM and suddenly flail around feeling like I had nothing to do and everything was "easy" after playing specs with a lot more buttons to push. But in all honesty, the reverse was true. For me, Beast Master feels very difficult to play well, and I think a lot of it has to do with perception. With Marksmanship, topping the DPS chart feels smooth and near-effortless, whereas with Beast Master, it feels like I'm prancing on a rather precarious position and one misstep will cost me. So I really really have to try to coax what I can out of it, merely to reach the lower level of what I got as MM. The result is that, oddly enough, BM has suddenly become sort of a more stressful spec to play o.O It’s kind of weird and I’m not sure what that will mean for me in terms of playstyle. Though lemme tell ya, I can’t wait until BM gets this supposed buff that we’re supposed to get… and hopefully still will… /crosses fingers

(Note: I don’t mean to offend anybody here; I know the idea of “which spec is the most challenging to play” seems to be a really touchy subject, with most everybody clamoring to claim theirs as the most difficult to play. I think first of all a.) it’s subjective, and b.) I haven’t found a single hunter spec thus far to be boring to play– awkward, yes, *glances at Survival* but certainly not boring– and to me, that’s what counts. They are all challenging in their own way. /nods)

In the end though, I don’t really aim for giant DPS numbers so much as I aim to be competitive; so long as I am somewhere in the top 3 or 5 (depending on whether it’s 10man or 25man) then I am content. This experiment has been an awesome and eye-opening experience to me, but I’m glad now I’ll be able to close Recount for a while and not worry about it.

/leans back and streeeeeeeeeeetches