Thoughts about 3.0.2 and Talent Choices

Patch 3.0.2 still has some time in the incubation chamber but it is bearing down on us none the less. And we have a lot to look forward (or not look forward to) to in this monster patch. The face of the game will change similar to how it did with the Burning Crusade. What exactly do we have coming?

  • The new talent trees for everyone
  • Inscription
  • New raid stacking mechanics
  • Achievements are being implemented
  • Solidified rating stats (crit, hit, etc)
  • Pet talent trees
  • Auto-pet leveling to within 5 levels of you
  • Ridiculously large numbers of animals now tamable
  • Auto Shot unlinked from cast timers
  • … much much more

With the patch the face of Hunter raiding will change. Right now the proper way to raid is to spec 41/20 and mash a Steady Shot macro to providing 3 completely viable trees to choose from. Which one will you choose? Well there is a lot to consider.

Beast Mastery
You’ll find Separation Anxiety not on equal footing to the equivalent talents in the other two treesThe current king of the hill is looking to be de-throned. Especially with only 61 talent points to choose from you are forced to skip out on some of the more awesome talents in Marksmanship and Survival available at the lower levels. You’ll find Separation Anxiety not on equal footing to the equivalent talents in the other two trees and most specs I have taken with BM allocate the 5 points from Separation Anxiety into other talents. Usually my build comes up looking something like this.

Now we can’t mention BM without bringing up exotic pets. This is a major selling point to the animal lovers. With the chance to pick up things like Chimeras, Devilsaurs, Silithids, Core Hounds, etc, it opens up a lot of options for BM Hunters. And the pets will do some fairly substantial DPS provided they can stay alive during an encounter. I’ve heard reports of people claiming that level 80 BM pets are pushing over 1000 DPS on their own.

In the end, in my opinion, Beast Mastery feels like a whole lot of the same. Which is not necessarily a bad thing by any means. You’ll find a lot of passive talents in the BM tree which make your existing play style better. Shorter cooldowns on things like Bestial Wrath and procced abilities, you’ll still find yourself playing as a machine-gunning DPS monster. And you still live and die by your cooldowns in PvP. But surprisingly enough, as incredible as Serpent’s Swiftness is, at least at level 80, the other two trees seem to have unseated BM has top DPS, at least for the moment.

Marksmanship
Chimera Shot hits like a truck, doing two instances of nature damage when coupled with a Serpent Sting.What an interesting turn MM has taken with the new talents. Trueshot Aura became a raid-wise 10% AP buff instead of it’s flat amount. Silencing Shot now has a proper interrupt effect attached to it so that it works on boss mobs even if the Silence doesn’t. Chimera Shot hits like a truck, doing two instances of nature damage when coupled with a Serpent Sting. Did I mention Serpent Sting is worth casting? Careful Aim is very easy to pick-up and provides a awesome scaling AP boost that is equal to 100% of our intellect. Add in that Marked for Death, the 46-50 talent point slot is vastly superior to Separation Anxiety, increase the dame done by your special attacks and your pet’s special attacks by 10% as well as 10% increased critical strike damage.

The downside is that in the current implementation Marksmanship has atrocious mana efficiency.Marksmanship has become a whole new tree in a sense. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces in the form of Scatter Shot and what not, but plenty of revamped toys and rearranged talents. And with Auto Shot being unlinked, it plays a major role in DPS for MM and Survival Hunters. A MM Hunter will have ridiculous amounts of AP, comparatively speaking. The downside is that in the current implementation Marksmanship has atrocious mana efficiency. If you’ve been reading the blog you already know this though. This is a situation where the final tuning of Aspect of the Viper will play a major role in the feasibility of MM in many situations. MM has a lot of tricks. Chimera Shot, Scatter Shot, Silencing Shot in conjunction with baseline abilities like Disengage might help increase viability of Hunters in small arena again

There are plenty of options, such as skipping the Multi-Shot talents, but the base remains the same.In a PvE sense, you will find yourself applying Serpent Sting and firing shots as they become available. Refreshing your sting every 10 seconds through Chimera Shot, and then using any other shots you would like based off your spec of choice. There a few different options I am considering with this being the base of it. There are plenty of options, such as skipping the Multi-Shot talents, but the base remains the same. Lethal Shots, Mortal Shots, Careful Aim, Ranged Weapon Specialization, Master Marksman, etc.

While unable to tame exotic pets, there are plenty of options open to other Hunters. One option to consider is that of the sporebat. Yes, a sporebat. The armor debuff is nice, but in reality I am tempted to try and off-set terrible mana efficiency through other means, such as Roar of Recovery. Will that be worth it? Maybe, but it will certainly help provided your pet is alive. I still like the concept of a Hyena for PvP however, as you can spec them into Charge and their class ability is a 6 second Hamstring on a 20 second cooldown.

Survival
Ah, Survival. A specced loved by so many. A spec based around pleasing your physical DPS classes. Their love for you was directly proportional to the size of your . . .  Expose Weakness. Well now it’s changed. Survival Hunters are now DPS machines and mana batteries, bringing the same effect Shadow Priests do. In fact, all mana battery effects function the same way, making us all equally loved. We still get Expose Weakness, we just keep it to ourselves. The Survival tree has a lot of solid talents besides Hunting Party.

Noxious Stings is a very interesting talent that not only provides a flat 3% damage increase … it also causes Wyvern Sting to chain if it gets dispelled.Lock and Load, while nerfed now, is getting slightly buffed again, perhaps even past the previous incarnation where a Lock and Load will provide 2 free Arcane or Explosive Shots but has a chance to proc off of every sting tick. This isn’t implemented yet but it is what Koraa has told us would happen. Hunter versus Wild is a very nice AP boost considering where our stamina is going. Noxious Stings is a very interesting talent that not only provides a flat 3% damage increase when your target is affected by your Serpent Sting, it also causes Wyvern Sting to chain if it gets dispelled. Intriguing to say the least. For level 70 as Survival, I am most leaning towards a spec that looks like this.

Conclusion
So what am I going to spec in the patch without the extra 10 talent points? I am heavily leaning towards MM. BM and Survival both miss out on Careful Aim, Go for the Throat or Rapid Killing. And while Explosive Shot is awesome DPS, Chimera Shot is as well and can still pick-up Improved Tracking and Survival Instincts. Not only that, I can hop in the Arena with a guildie without respeccing and have all the tools I need to try and be successful. Since the ZA bear is getting taken out with the patch, the DPS for those runs won’t be a concern anymore, not saying MM couldn’t put out enough damage for those runs. But to be fair, Alterac Valley would be a blast at this choke points with Explosive Shot.

I uploaded a 30-second video to WeGame.com to see what you guys thought about the quality. So thoughts, opinions about my ramblings or the video quality, leave them here!

About Drotara

Drotara (or BehemothDan) considers himself a geek on many levels. A web developer and programmer by trade, he has no shortage of geeky hobbies. When not fulfilling husband and daddy duties, he enjoys WoW, the WoW TCG, Magic: The Gathering, and great board games with friends and family.