The Hunter Cataclysm Preview

Our beloved Hunters have had their Cataclysm preview posted up on the official forums. You can view the entirety of its changes here. Now keep in mind that this is a preview. We still don’t know everything about the upcoming talent changes or the final details of the Mastery system. What we can think about are the changes to the systems and abilities we are used to.

At first glance, I am pretty excited for these changes. As we already know the class as a whole is getting away from the idea mana and switching to “focus”, which you can really read as another version of energy. No longer will we care about having Intellect on our gear. It is a useless stat for us, and we can focus on pure DPS stats, similar to Rogues.

Well, let’s start from the top of the list and go through the changes?

Cobra Shot

As we could have guessed, we get some new abilities as we level up to 85. The first one Blizzard mentions is Cobra Shot. As they describe it, it is a replacement alternative for Steady Shot against high-armored targets as it will deal nature damage with further bonuses coming from the Beast Mastery tree.

We have no damage calculations for it yet, but if it is meant to be decision when to use it, let’s assume that the total damage it will deal is comparable to our Steady Shots and will become a trade-off when fighting against a caster-style mob or the high-armored target Blizzard mentions. I am sure once we know more about it, we will be able to make a handy little graph showing where the trade-off between Steady Shot and Cobra Shot happens.

Trap Launcher

This was something we asked for during the Wrath of the Lich King beta but never got it. We got Freezing Arrow which many of us learned to use but still lacked the ability to use our other traps in a similar fashion. I still wish I had the ability to launch a Frost Trap during the Deathbringer Saurfang encounter in ICC.

However this ability is listed as being on a 1-minute cooldown. Now it doesn’t say it is changing the cooldown of the traps themselves. Just the ability to launch a trap is 1-minute. So if you are kiting mobs or something and what to drop a trap as normal, feel free. Maybe we will see talents that reduce the launcher’s cooldown. We will have to wait and see.

Camouflage

A lot of Hunters wanted this one bad. And for a brief shining moment we were told that we would. And then our hopes were crushed. But it’s seeing a return as our level 85 ability in Cataclysm. Blizzard’s preview states as follows:

“prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).”

Based off that description it’s awesome. Now does this have an immediate effect on raiding? Not at face value. But depending on what Blizzard means when they say “prevents him or her from taking ranged damage” and if it is usable in combat or what other restrictions are placed on it, it could be handy in raid encounters with randomly targeted abilities.

Further clarification was posted in that thread too:

“It is *not* stealth. Your enemies will never wonder where you are. We’re trying to use the new Cataclysm water effect to put a shimmering PREDATORy visual on you”

And the obvious part is the HUGE PvP implications. In case you forgot, Cataclysm brings us rated battlegrounds. And battlegrounds is one area of PvP I always felt that my Hunter shined. Room to run. Room to shoot. Room to do mah thang. And adding in a stealth-style mechanic to boot? Heck yes. But as I stated, there is a lot we still don’t know.

Focus

So we have a few more details about focus now. Blizzard currently plans on having it regenerate at 6 focus per second, slightly slower than energy. They plan on having it regenerate faster depending on the amount of haste that you have. Similar to energy, our focus caps at 100.

Now we don’t know whether or not this is a constant regeneration, similar to mana at the moment or if we will see a “tick” of 6 every 1 second. For future clarification for the next couple paragraphs, this is equal to having 3 focus every .5 seconds.

We also know that the plan is to have Steady Shot and Cobra Shot cost no Focus, and every time you use one of these shots to have it generate 9 focus. Blizzard then states that this technically increases our focus regeneration from 6 focus per second to 12 focus per second, which means it’s adding 3 focus every .5 seconds when we fire one of those two shots.

There is a small conflict at the moment since they state that the cast time of Steady Shot (before haste as it is now) and Cobra Shot is 2 seconds before haste, which would equate to 2.25 focus per .5 seconds, so we would only get 4.5 focus additionally every second instead of the 6 Blizzard states. But this is nit-picking over details that haven’t been finalized so I will just go with assuming Blizzard’s statement is correct for now and it adds 6 focus a second, as they said.

Let’s also assume we have enough haste to lower the cast time to 1.5 seconds. A lot of assumption here, but it’s what we can do with a preview. :)

This essentially doubles our focus regeneration since we determined that our base regeneration was also 3 focus every .5 seconds.

Using a Steady Shot or Cobra Shot every GCD will give us a total 72 focus after 4 global cooldowns, or after 6 seconds. That is assuming that our GCD is still unaffected by haste, which since it was not mentioned we can assume that it remains unchanged.

Blizzard also states that Arcane Shot/Chimera Shot /Explosive Shot will cost 45 Focus. Based off what we know now, if we are in a stationary position, we have enough focus to shoot one of our “big shots” after 4 seconds or after 3 global cooldowns (4.5 seconds).

Aimed Shot or Multi-Shot takes 60 focus, which is equal to 5 seconds of Steady/Cobra-enhanced focus regen or 4 global cooldowns.

Make note however that we still are unsure of the calculated effect of haste on our passive regeneration. Once that is determined, we can determine whether or not haste will allow us to cut a GCD off of these initial figures.

We will also be able to calculate how much haste we need after we determine what our actual focus consumption will be through one of our shot cycles. Ghostcrawler also states that the focus costs could change, so let’s not obsess over these numbers yet so take it lightly and assume they will get changed and tweaked a lot in the future.

And other fun stuff!

As far as some of our other changes go, we won’t need ammo anymore. With obvious “loss” of DPS from not using bullets or arrows it will have to be adjusted in the weapon DPS itself, which is easy to do.

We are also going to be given a large number of “inactive stable slots” for all you happy pet collectors out there.

Pets are also being modified again to allow them to fill minor roles. Judging from Blizzard’s examples and description, expect pets to have the ability to replace things like Mangle, Curse of Elements, and other debuff-inducing effects that you might miss in smaller raids depending on your composition. It adds a small utility if you find yourself in a physical DPS-heavy raid and missing something like Mangle or even a small version of Blood Frenzy.

Pets. Gotta catch ‘em all.

A nice change you will find in DoTs is that haste will now increase the number of ticks rather than decreasing duration. So using a heavily hasted Serpent Sting in Cataclysm won’t increase your focus expenditure but rather increase the amount of damage that you get from that focus cost.

And Blizzard is further ramming it into the skulls of weird Hunters everywhere that we are a ranged class. Say goodbye to things like Raptor Strike.

As you can expect, a lot of talents and things need to be adjusted for our new non-love of Intellect as well as the reworking of talent trees for all classes. Talents like Careful Aim and Rapid Fire are all being adjusted to deal with our new mechanics.

I am excited. Simple things for new players like starting with a pet, removed melee abilities, and more stable slots to crazy new things like an attempt at Camouflage (again), removing our need for Intellect and mana in conjunction with things like rated battlegrounds and I am getting pretty excited for Cataclysm. Of course there is still a lot to learn. Certain calculations, focus costs of all abilities, the final revamped talent trees and the mastery system leave a lot to be learned.

Thoughts, opinions, comments! Leave ‘em!

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.