Pet battlin in 6.0

Pet battles changed in subtle but massive ways in 6.0. All attacks hit; no more base miss chances (aside from -hit modifiers such as Call Darkness). Okay, so thats not so subtle. The other subtle change is the removal of double attacks; see Tail Swipe and Tympanic Tantrum. Instead of two normal hit per attack, these now do one double hit.

Lets take the second change. This is not a major change except on crits and when facing shields. Crits are huge now as the one big attack crits instead of one of the two normal attacks critting. Yay. However, against shields, because these are now one attack, they take two rounds to clear instead of one. Bah. Against Cristoph Von Feasel (the new Darkmoon Faire trainer) Lil’ XT–my favorite pet–seemed like a perfect opener: two backline beasts and a magic pet. But Syd’s bubble nullifies two full rounds of Tympanic Tantrum now whereas it avoided only one round before. Bah. Couldn’t use XT as my opening pet. A subtle but notable change.

The change to hit chance is far less subtle. Now most attacks hit. To compensate for the 100% hit chance, dmg has been reduced or modified. Lift Off, for example, has a “range” of damage: a hit (e.g. 400) and a low hit (325). It will hit for something, but it could be normal or sub-par. I’m not quite sold on this new system yet. On the plus side, I never will see Lift Off missing 8 times in a row (which happened against a trainer) or Tail Swipe missing on 3 consecutive turns (which happened in PvP and lost me the match.) Yay. Another “plus” (I guess it’s a plus) is that now pet abilities match our abilities. We can’t miss, and now our pets can’t either. New players won’t get confused. Yay? The downside is that fights are less interesting. RNG is the spice of WoW. Yes, RNG is infuriating and I have/do advocate for reducing unnecessary RNG. But it does make the game more interesting, exciting. Also, losing hit chance homogenization pet abilities. Many pets have for their base attack (the first slot ability) similar attacks: same class (e.g. critter, beast, etc) but with different hit chances and dmg. Now those attacks are the same save for the name. That makes the game less interesting. Before: “Do I take X and know it will hit? Or do I take a risk and take Y and hope it hits?” Now: “I took Y cause the icon is cooler.” That’s a boring choice.

Personally, I would have removed the 85% and greater hit chances and added cooldowns to the effected abilities. Base attack does X dmg every round, base attack #2 does 2X dmg every other round. Averages out, but gives the player options. Everything else retains a miss chance. No RNG and low hits are boring and feeble.

My strat for Cristoph Von Feasel:
Team: Enchanted Broom, Lil XT, [any level 20 pet or higher]
Opener: Enchanted Broom
Round 1: Sweep –> Swaps Syd for the cow
R2: Wind Up –> Soaks the cow’s -dmg debuff
R3: Swap in XT
R4: Heartbreaker
R5: Tympanic Tantrum
R6: TT continues
R7: TT continues –> Cow dies, in comes Syd
R8: Swap in Broom
R9: Sweep –> Swaps Syd for Rhino
R10: Wind Up –> Rhino dies
R11: Wind Up –> Charge attack and soak Whirlpool
R12: Pass –> Dont kill Syd yet!
R13: Pass –> Dont kill Syd yet!
R14: Swap in low-level pet
R15 through end: Avoid having your low-level pet get hit by Whirlpool as the dmg and 2-round snare will likely kill it. Otherwise, kill Syd as you will.

Improving SV

While I disagree with Bendak that Blizzard wants SV to be an intro-to-endgame spec, I do agree with him that SV needs help. In particular, SV requires zero skill. Hit the buttons when they light up, collect dps. We dont have cooldowns to manage, KS is gone, no burst, just press the buttons when you or Cobra when you cant. Without a skill-based element to our rotation, we should not do as much dps as other classes and specs that require skill. And the game play is lackluster, boring, depressing. Yes, depressing: my abilities were pruned, I hit buttons as I can, my dps is terrible, and there’s nothing I can do to improve it.

So how do we inject SV with skill? What can we do to make SV more interesting?

1. DoT spec with LnL buff

Make ES a dot (more than it already is), and change LnL to be a stacking buff to our overall damage. Casting 3 Cobra shots in a row procs LnL, which increases dmg by 10/20/30% depending on how many dots are active.

How does this increase our skill cap? We must watch 3 dots and maintain the LnL buff as much as possible.

2. Floating LnL with more focus

Change LnL to be a 6s window in which ES loses its cooldown (aside from the 0.5s GCD). LnL doesnt start until we cast the next ES.

How does this increase our skill cap? We finally get controllable burst. The skill comes from timing the burst and managing focus to fire as many ES’s when LnL is active.

3. Invincible

Our spec is Survival. What if, instead of increasing our dps, we increased our survivability? Increased health, 20% reduced dmg taken (perhaps changing Camo), Black Arrow now becomes a lifesteal, and we get a SV-only glyph that gives us a new trap that AOE heals. We already have Survivalist, so we’re invincible when adds are out. We dont become healers, we just dont ever need external healing.

How does this increase our skill cap? Not much, but it makes us unique. We become the preeminent PvP spec. In PvE, we wont need heals. Ever. Heavy dmg fights or dmg soaking required? All hunters switch to SV; no need to swap a dps for a healer, or, in certain situations, no need for an offtank. DPS checks? BM or MM.

I fear that Bendak is correct and Blizzard will ignore us. “Two specs are solid, the third…no one plays SV anyway.” Or they wont change our foundational problems–no burst, no skill, no cooldowns, focus-starved, no real synergy between abilities, a terrible secondary stat, nothing interesting or novel that sets us apart–and they just buff our shots until we stop complaining. Thats a band-aid, not a solution.

I hope Blizzard is giving us the Blood Elf model treatment and pushing us off until later. “Crap. Two weeks until WoD and we dont have a real solution we’re happy with. Lets polish what we can for WoD, and table SV for a month.” Disappointing, but Id rather wait and get something sweet and fixed than a bunch of half-asses solutions. Blizzard doesnt abandon classes or specs, but they have massively overhauled specs mid-expansion. Perhaps 6.1 will be the SV patch.

In a previous post, I said I wasnt worried about SV’s numbers, that Blizzard would balance us out eventually. I still think that. Anecdotal evidence from WoD beta says SV can be viable; hat tip to Thrill of the Wild. The concern is that SV in WoD will be BM was in Wrath: you can play it, but if you dont want to slow your raid, you must play another spec. We dont have the luxury of a dedicated PvP spec like frost or subtlety. I wouldnt mind that as thst would make us stronger in PvP (duh) and PvE (all the PvP stuff goes to one, the two PvE specs get all the dmg stuff). Having an intro to endgame spec is terrible, disheartening, and lends credence to my long-held hypothesis that none of the devs have a hunter main (which is a post unto itself. In short, the changes and decisions made for hunters would not be made by hunters.) And, yes, one spec will always be better than the others all else being equal; ie SimCraft numbers. I want three specs close enough that skill separates player dps, not spec design. SV isnt close, and, with zero skill required, I dont expect is to be close.

SV needs help. We will get to viability. But we need more than just numeric buffs. We need the opportunity to shine, to prove we are as skilled as Beast Masters or Marksmen/women. If that requires gutting SV, so be it. Not as if there’s much left to remove.

As we wait

What excites me the most in WoD?

Draenei. This promises to be our expansion. “But Lyr, you had BC!” Fuck that noise. BC was the Blood Elf expansion. WoD is ours. I wont spoil the in-game cinematics except to say they feature Draenei. Fuck yes.

What am I apprehensive about in WoD?

Garrisons. They seem to be farms run amok. I like my farm. Once it was up and running, my farm was a quick way to get some profession mats. 5 mins per day for 50-75g. Done. Farms were unobtrusive, quick, a side project. Garrisons, though, threaten to be the focus of the expansion whether we want it to be or not. Instead of dozens of dailies, we’re gonna have a ton of garrison tasks to do. Is that an improvement?

What am I dreading about WoD?

Mythic raiding. Not the difficulty, the logistics of it. We’ve tried recruiting, but have yet to nab anyone. We havent seriously recruited since Wrath; we’ve forgotten how. We’re friendly, but have been together for a long time; hard to join a tight group of friends. I think we’ll eventually get enough peeps. Just may take a while.

How am I preparing for WoD?

Hoarding gold. Aside from some raid achievements, I feel finished with Pandaria. I dont have any alts to level though Ive been thinking of getting my pally up to endgame for Valanyr and Shadowmourne. But that will have to wait. Right now, Im doing Hallow’s End for the pets. Got Widget, need a bunch of Tricky Treats for Birman. After that, farm gold. Whee.

What will I miss most from Pandaria?

Huge numbers. I know numbers are relative and I have zero issues with the squish. But damn, pulling 300,000+ dps was sweet. Being SV means I never broke a million with a single attack, but seeing 500K was cool. I remember a guildie talking about Everquest back in Wrath. “Ya, you cant get into a raid without being able to pull 450,000 dps.” My mind boggled. “WoW will never hit those numbers. We’re barely cracking 3K.”

What will miss the least from Pandaria?

Pandaren. No tears for leaving the pandas on their island.

What will be the expansion after WoD?

I think we will have a Burning Legion-based expansion. We will go Argus at some point, but not immediately after WoD. Perhaps we travel to another planet or the Legion attacks Azeroth. Either way, I think a demon-focused expansion is coming.

Bathing in the Iron Tide

First thoughts…

* Didnt think Id miss Kill Shot as much as I do. Force of habit more than anything: mob health low –> spam 6 (my KS button). Not a big deal with trash mobs as most died before KS landed, but bosses? We’ll see how that goes.

* Graphics are improved all around. And hey look! A new Eastern Kingdoms load screen! Mekkatorqe is the new badass!

* My arms have huge veins.

* Gonna have to play with Barrage. 60 focus is a lot. So much more useful and fun than Powershot and Glaives though, so perhaps saving focus is worth it.

* Raided normal-cum-heroic SoO last night. DPS was bad. Meh. Rotation felt clunky owing mainly due to Barrage costing 60 focus. I tried Powershot, but I hate the knockback. Glaives suck: my tooltip reads “759 damage”. I hope thats a typo. The guaranteed LnL procs off BA are an improvement as every so often Id get two procs from one BA. Feels like something is missing, and not just a cooldown and/or KS.

Less than a month to go. I trust Blizzard will get things sorted.

Parting of the Mists

I wasnt sure what I was going to do last night before I logged on. Pet battles, yes, but other than that? /shrug. Some guildies were finishing Brawler’s Guild achieves, others were surfing oQueue for Garrosh-N kill and the resulting mount, and a few took the night off after a long expansion.

I felt finished with the expansion, but since I was online, I figured I’d look for one more MoP-y thing to do. I hit “y” and checked my achievements. Dungeons done. Scenarios done [quick aside: got 4 of the 6 defenders for Binan All-Star in my first 10 runs, 0 in the next 15, then the last 2 in 3 runs. RNG, gotta love it.] Not doing PvP. Quests done as much as I wanted to do. General done–no wait! I haven’t caressed Pandarian squirrels! On it! Spam targeting macro while flying between pet battles and easy 10 achievement points. A sentimental bow tied onto MoP.

Regarding the “stealth” or more accurately “unannounced” nerfs and buffs, we were all correct. SV did need buffs as many said (in varying degrees of volume). And Blizzard did balance the classes and specs as I said. 12% to ES, BA, and SrS is about a 8-10% overall buff, which is huge. I’ll take it.

Along those same lines, I loved what the Blizz dev said. Knowing he could say “we’re working on balance” til he was blue in the face (“blue in the face” “blue post” get it? Nevermind) and knowing his audience, he went with a data-based troll. Loved it. And he was right. Those simulation numbers probably did make a few warlocks reroll or change mains heading into Siege. Empirical data, though, proved the simulations wrong. Not even close to what we saw.

Now it’s time to strip naked and parade my even more glorious Draenei body around Stormwind!


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