My favorite raid encounters as a hunter in Mists…

All of them.

Ok, well not really – that’s just my own predilection for hunters shining through!

Today, The Grumpy Elf wrote about his three favorite raid encounters as a hunter in MoP, and Delirium followed with his top five. As I read each of those great posts, I got to thinking about some of the fights I particularly enjoyed because I was playing a hunter, even if I wasn’t in love with the fights themselves. Here then, in no particular order, are some favorite moments/mechanics:

Imperial Vizier Zor’lok

  • Disengage to the furthest shield during Force and Verve on Platform 1? Check.
  • Continue rotation uninterrupted – by casting on the move – while avoiding discs during Attenuation on Platform 2? Check.
  • Quickly change targets to burst down Converted players on Platform 3? Check
  • Combine all three on the floor in Phase 2? Good fun.
  • Jump-Disengage from platforms –> Deterrence to avoid Pheromones of Zeal damage when transitioning between platforms? Check.

T14 was a butt for my raid team. We struggled to get past certain bosses like Stone Guard, Elegon, Blade-Lord, Garalon… yeah. It was rough. But I had fun on Zor’lok.

I used to try to Disengage directly into my assigned shield during Force and Verve. The first time I did it, I called it a ‘three-pointer,’ although it was more like a hole-in-one. It’s the simple things, right? Not an amazing feat, but fun nonetheless. But while Zor’lok wasn’t necessarily a ‘use all the tools in your toolbox’-type of fight, I really appreciated being a hunter on that fight.

Lei Shi

Let’s see here… how about I start with running while casting during Get Away! ? Yeah, that was great. I enjoyed that benefit while playing my hunter, but my appreciation for cast-on-the-move grew when I took my frost mage and resto druid into ToES. What a difference.

I also got to use Wyvern Sting to CC Animated Protectors during Protect, because it was instant / more reliable than Freezing Trap.

On the other hand, one of the more annoying things was having virtually nothing to do during Hide. Watching mages and warlocks rain down ice and fire made me nostalgic for good ol’ Volley in that case. And, in general, that fight was a pain with all of the phase changes and so on, so I didn’t necessarily enjoy it. However, being a hunter certainly served me well against Lei Shi.

Thok

Thok has “hunter fight” written all over it. Both Grumpy Elf and Delirium wrote about how great that fight is for hunters, and with more detail and expertise than I could. Nonetheless, it has to be mentioned here. Casting not interrupted? Jump-Disengaging with Posthaste when Fixated, while still damaging Thok on the move? Tranq Shot if necessary on the adds? The fight is a lot of fun for hunters. I’ve only ever done the fight on one other toon – my resto druid – and it’s a complete pain in the ass. But for hunters, Thok is definitely a good time.

* * *

I could continue with my list, but most of it would just rehash the posts that inspired it. I have to agree with Grumpy Elf that Sha of Pride was great for hunters. Additionally, I absolutely love his ‘welcome’ speech:

“Come, face me. Give in to your pride. Show me your ‘Greatness’.”

So, so condescending. I love it.

So many other fights were good for hunters. Gara’jal, Tsulong, and Immerseus come to mind immediately when I think about taking out adds in something akin to a turret-style manner. There are many abilities one can use during Will of the Emperor for add-control. Disengage is handy in so many fights, from Feng to Sha of Fear, Jin’rokh to Lei Shen, and throughout SoO. I’ve used Deterrence a lot on Stone Guard, H Jin’rokh, Dark Shaman, Lei Shen, and so on; Concussive Shot on Tortos, Will, Immerseus…

It’s been great to be able to interrupt/silence, slow, root, and otherwise impede mobs in raids – while almost continuously dealing sweet, sweet damage – throughout this expansion. It’ll be interesting to see how that kind of thing pans out in Warlords with a less diverse toolbox. In the meantime, it’s fun to look back and remember how, in spite of variable class balance *cough*, Mists has been a pretty fun expansion in which to play a hunter.

Thanks to The Grumpy Elf and Delirium for the inspiration for this post, and for sparking some good memories!

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. You can follow me on Twitter at @MushanEtc. Comments are welcome!


I came home from vacation for this…

I went to visit with family last week, so I didn’t play WoW until the weekend. It was a happy break away from the game, the news, and the community; time was, instead, spent enjoying great food, ridiculously good weather, several walks around my old hometown, meeting a future family member, helping my father out with some home maintenance, and having lots of good conversation.

As such, the blog has been quiet, as has my Twitter account. It was a nice little vacation.

As of the weekend, I was back at work, and back to my favorite thing, which is raiding with my friends. Of course, the fun was somewhat diminished by my best friend spending a combined two hours over the course of post-raid-time Sat. and Sun. bitching about a drop that was lost to another player on a roll…

We use the /roll system. That’s it. Whoever wins the roll and qualifies for the item wins the item. Exceptions to this are very rarely made. And since we’re supposed to be mature adults, sometimes we see a player pass on an item because they just won something else. For instance, we killed Sha of Pride last night, and both the 2H sword and the Protector chest token dropped; Somb won the sword, and then passed on the token “until next time, since I won the sword,” because that’s the kind of guy he is. I won the token; which is amazing, because, since we have two shaman, two warriors, a hunter, and a monk, I was rolling against four other people. Anyway, examples of deference such as this are common, but aren’t mandatory, and it’s been this way for years with this group.

When someone gets as pissed off about the perceived unfairness of the system as this person did, I get annoyed. Last night (and the night before), I was embarrassed. I tried to insert some soothing words into the conversation – followed by some less-than-soothing words – but it was like trying to stop a rapidly oncoming train by stepping on the track: useless.

So now this person is talking about leaving. It may be bluster, or it may be real – it’s hard for me to tell right now. But in my mind, under this system, if anyone has such a massive fit over loot and the “selfishness” of others, to the point where that player’s own selfishness is bringing down the enjoyment of just about everyone* else involved, that person can fuck off.

*The sad part of all of this is that the person who won the item was, and, I believe, still is, oblivious to any drama… never mind, check that; this person didn’t need to know. I’m glad they don’t know. They are better off not knowing, feeling angry or guilty or resentful, or anything like that. The whole point of me saying this was that this kind of drama sucks.

Those who know what I’m talking about may be surprised by my saying this, but I hate having my enjoyment of the game ruined by people being assholes, regardless of whether I’m friends with that person.

In my experience, you lose a roll now and then. Sometimes, it really stings. So, what do you do? You bring your m***** f****** A-game. You prove – constantly and emphatically – that, in spite of your perceived slight on the loot-side of the game lately, you’re still the best. I’ve done this many, many times.

I remember doing this in Firelands, when the other hunter “put dibs” on the ridiculously good cloak from Rhyolith. I made a deal with him when he did that: fine, you take the cloak the first time it drops, but I get the bow from Ragnaros the first time it drops. He accepted my offer (for some reason). Sure enough, the cloak soon dropped, and I really wanted it, but I passed, because we had a deal and because I was looking long-term. In the meantime, one week when he was out, another hunter filled in, and of course the boots dropped off Baleroc, and the substitute hunter won them… and I burned inside! But I let it go rather than making a scene – because gear isn’t worth being a dick to your friends and causing drama – and focused the fire from that low roll on proving that I was still the force to be reckoned with.

And eventually, I got my bow. And my cloak. And my boots.

If topping the meters is part of the game that you get enjoyment from, make your own enjoyment. Top the meters. Find a way. Find a tactic or a strength that you didn’t realize was there, and use it to make up that perceived shortcoming. Most of us raiding at my level aren’t playing perfectly anyway, so if the gear isn’t forthcoming, use it as an opportunity to up your game.

At least, that has been my mindset, and it has caused me to become a better player. And becoming a better player can make as much of a difference as – or more than – a piece of gear.

***

Due to various circumstances – mainly time and personnel circumstances – we are still 4/14 normal // 8/14 Flex for the tier. Which is fine, I guess. I’ve been fortunate with gear drops so far: 2-piece bonus, both Haromm’s and Assurance trinkets from Flex, and the normal-mode crossbow from Protectors. I’m still one of the top 25 geared hunters on the server, and I’m having good fun playing my hunter.

With the set bonus and trinkets, I’m basically sticking with Thrill of the Hunt for the time being. I still don’t like the spam-happy playstyle it tends to engender in players like me, but then again I do need me some Rapid Fire uptime, so I’m not complaining!

Now, if only I could learn that damn belt recipe from my LW cooldowns…

This week, I am determined that there will be more than one post. Hopefully, I can come through on that!

***

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Thinking stat-less gear while fighting H Tortos

The past few weeks, I’ve been filling in with a heroic raiding guild on my alt hunter, Ghilleadh.

Ghilleadh isn’t the best geared wolf out there. While his ilvl has risen to 508 over the past few weeks, with a Thunderforged weapon and 2p T15 bonus, he has nothing from the legendary questline, still has two blue pieces, and so on. Compared with Mushan, he’s still almost a tier behind, average ilevel-wise. And of course, he is way behind on the legendary.

The experience of bringing this alt with that guild has been mostly positive, with large doses of caveat-ish-ness stemming from the fact that it feels like I’m playing with my arm tied behind my back. I get absolutely smoked on the meters, which is symptomatic of the fact that I simply do not have the kind of power that I am accustomed to playing with, relative to the content.

Other symptoms include feeling like I am shooting the adds on H Horridon with a wet noodle, shooting the turtles on H Tortos with a wet noodle… in other words, Mushan has many advantages – although those advantages are largely the result of many months of persistence and hard work – over Ghilleadh when it comes to gear and power and so on.

I’m trying not to let it bother me when I run with these people, and, in all honesty, it’s relatively easy to do so for farm content, where my under-geared presence doesn’t necessarily hamper their evening.

However, on heroic progression content, each person’s damage matters. And when poor damage directly affects mechanical performance during the fight, my predicament with Ghilleadh and his poor gear is laid bare.

Case in point: H Tortos.

Last week and this week, we’ve been smashing our faces against H Tortos. As a ranged player, my responsibility is to ensure that turtles die. As the worst damage dealer (by a long shot), my other responsibility is to ensure that turtles are kicked at appropriate times. And as a person on the team, my third responsibility is to ensure that I get a Crystal Shell on me in enough time that it can be fully charged before each Quake Stomp.

There is no priority for this. They are all my number one priorities…

I’m fine with the Crystal Shell. Although there are times when the turtles are buttholes and knock me around while I’m trying to have my shell charged, it’s something I can generally handle.

Kicking turtles and killing turtles are a little more difficult. By the way, this is not because I stink at kicking turtles, per se. I’ve been kicking turtles just fine for weeks, and when I consider all of the experience I’ve gotten with them, the isolated act of aiming and kicking is pretty simple. However, since I am not very powerful, it takes longer than I would like it to, just to kill them. I mean, I pop CDs on turtles in order to help us not wipe on the first Ferocious Stone Breath. And although we can almost always accomplish that, there are the other turtles to deal with – including the fact that sometimes, they will take me out right when I’m ready to interrupt the breath, in spite of my best efforts to make them think I’m not going to be there (at the point of the kicking) when the time comes. This is the joy of H Tortos; or rather, it is one of them.

I have a hard time not believing that if I were attempting the same task with Mushan (and his much-better damage), Skull Turtle would be long-dead, and X Turtle would be dead – or close to it – by the time I needed to interrupt the first breath.

This is what I mean when I talk about gear affecting mechanical performance.

Last night, during our many attempts on this repair-bill-piñata, I started thinking about my situation (under-geared heroic raiding) and its relevance to the far-fetched (for WoW) notion of getting rid of stats altogether, and the raid tuning issues that could come from massive changes to the way WoW works in this regard.

(It may have been a huge stretch, but bear with me, because even if it is, I still thought about it!)

As the game stands, here’s what I bring to the table with Mushan: a good player with generally good awareness, knowledge of the fight, properly gemmed/enchanted/reforged, and appropriate gear level.

With Ghilleadh, it looks similar: same player, same awareness, same knowledge, same gemming/enchanting/reforging, not very close to the proper gear level.

With Mushan, whose gear is fairly close to the levels of the other toons, I would fit in seemlessly. I am at the same level, relatively, in almost every regard, to the other team members – including having reached the end of the legendary questline to-date.

With Ghilleadh, there is one glaring issue. Mentally I fit in, but physically (in game) I just cannot approach the level of power that the rest of the team has.

OK, I think that’s fairly clear.

So I was thinking: what if, in a vacuum, Blizzard demolished the idea of stats on gear, while leaving the raiding structure the same? Meaning, of course, that leveling < heroic dungeons < Raid Finder < raids < heroic raids, as far as the hierarchy of group content goes…

The reason behind this thought was, if it was all about skill, and I were a good enough player, I could take my other hunter into a heroic raid, learn the fight, and perform as well as my main hunter would. (Ah, the simplistic thoughts we think sometimes…)

I could kill turtles just as fast, kill adds on Horridon just as fast… There’s no place like home… there’s no place like home…

Wait, what? Sorry, I was fading off there for a moment…

It couldn’t actually happen in a vacuum, obviously. While some people have advocated for such a change in WoW, Ghostcrawler has consistently maintained that gear progression is so ingrained in the game that it would be tough to remove it. (I’m paraphrasing here).

I don’t have a quote for that, but I know that I’ve seen his short comments about it here and there, and my interpretation of those comments has always been something along the lines of “Yeah, I guess people are so used to looting and bringing their item level/gear score up that it would take a huge chunk of fun out of the game, and I guess they’d have to come up with new ways for us to get our power, and, ah, yeah, (I guess I don’t care about this enough to think about it much more than I already have)…”

But last night, as I was thinking about it, I realized that, on the surface, GC’s words (as I remember them) only hint at how this would affect the game. Because the truth is that this would fundamentally change the game at its core.

At its core… beyond the “me want lootz” nature of WoW as we have always known it. :)

Changing WoW to a game without stats on gear would not be as simple as we might think. The tuning process for everything combat-related would have to be rebuilt. This includes PvP, where, in a vacuum-like situation (with the game as it is), if we just took all our armor off, wore tuxedos and/or holiday/RP (stat-less) clothing, and fought one another at level 90 with starting zone weapons, players might never die. We’d have a lot less health, but we’d have much, much less power.

There would have to be major changes to how players get their power. There has to be some power in the game, after all. It might be a system similar to talents, like in other video games where you put points into abilities you want to use, or where you fill up a strength or magic or skill bar with experience until it is full.

There would have to be major changes to bosses and boss progression. In my example, while Mushan is geared for heroic T15 content, Ghilleadh is not. In our new version of WoW, it seems to me that boss fights would have to be based less on power and more on skill. People might complain about “the Dance (TM)” in the current game, but our new WoW’s bosses would be all about strategy, skill, execution… heroic bosses couldn’t be X times as powerful as normal bosses, because we might not be X times more powerful than we were when we took on their regular counterparts, because we weren’t getting “better” gear.

Now, I could see some change where, in a 12 boss raid, you get a slightly more powerful weapon when you kill the third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth bosses, each with more power than the one before, allowing for some power progression. But ultimately, boss fighting would become even less about power and more about skill and execution than it is now, possibly vastly more so.

I’m just scratching the surface of this topic. And, while I wrote the first half-dozen paragraphs of this post last night after two hours of smash-face-against-H-Tortos, I don’t remember everything that went through my mind during and after the raid, unfortunately.

But that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I understand that the notion of a stat-less gear version WoW is a notion of a very different game, to the point where if it happened, it would probably have to happen in a WoW 2 or something.

People float the idea of getting rid of stats on gear from time to time, and it’s an interesting idea. However, the amount of work that would have to go into it is difficult to fathom from this side of the dev/player divide, because of how such a fundamental change to how we kill things in-game would affect so many parts of the game, including how drastically the things we kill would have to be changed as well.

Additionally, it would be a huge change for players. After years of progression, in part, through gear – at every combat-related level of gameplay, from leveling to HMs – such a change, if pulled off by the devs, would still be a massive shock to players’ familiarity with WoW. Financially, it would probably not be a good idea, both from the perspectives of “time investment vs. moving the game/story/action forward” and whether all of that work would be worth the money for them as a company / attract new players / retain old ones…

…although it sounds like a fantastic idea for a new game.

P.S.

The item squish theme is making the rounds again in the worldwide WoW community, and many are predicting that it will be a significant feature in 6.0 and the as-yet-unannounced next expansion. I don’t generally have any pressing thoughts about the subject, because I would rather hear what the devs have to say now – as opposed to what they were saying about it two or three years ago – before I ponder it too much. I am interested to see where they go with it, if it is indeed something that we’re going to see in the near future.

Thanks for reading this crazy-long post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

Frostheim, co-creator of Warcraft Hunters Union (and all that that site has done for us hunters), progenitor of WoW Hunters Hall, long-time Scattered Shots (WoW Insider) columnist, long-time member (and poet laureate) of the Hunting Party Podcast, writer of several amazing odes to hunters, staunch defender of facts and math and balance, advocate for cool new stuff for hunters, recoverer of his own cloak, and generally fun and awesome guy, announced last Saturday on the Hunting Party Podcast – and later that day on WHU – that he is retiring.

Given his recent stretches of absence from the WHU and the HPP, to say that I didn’t see this coming would be incorrect. And he is not quitting the game, but is shutting down his personal commitments to his blogging / podcasting activities in order to devote his time to other ventures. He’s also apparently going to put away his white-quality weapons and lessen the amount of time he spends shooting at target dummies as if they’re trying to invade his city, and actually devote more of his WoW time to playing the game! This is a good thing.

Personally, though – and I know I speak for untold numbers of players out there – I Will Miss You, Frost.

I’m A Hunter

I wasn’t always a hunter. But one of my earliest toons was a hunter back when I started playing shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, although since I was a terrible player (and that’s all the info anyone needs) back then, I failed to get him to level 70.

During the spring of 2010, when the Lich King was dead and we were in the midst of the longest stretch of meaningful-content-less boredom in the history of the game, I started listening to the Hunting Party Podcast. I forget how it happened; the best I can remember is that, as a reader of WoW Insider, I liked Frostheim’s Scattered Shots posts more than just about anything else on the site.

(I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably ready for a change at that point… but anyway, to continue…)

Of course, the header on each of his posts mentioned that he was from Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast, and so I checked them out. And let me say, when someone charismatic like Frostheim is available to be both read and listened to, it can be a powerful combination. I wasn’t much of a podcast-listener in those days – my only constant at the time was the WoW Insider Show, which I haven’t listened to in almost a year now, and I had tried out several others that either didn’t grab me or didn’t stick around. So when I found Darkbrew, Euripides, and Frostheim, I was hooked. I downloaded and listened to every single episode that was available on iTunes, and they were my companions that summer and fall as we inched our way toward the launch of Cataclysm.

Meanwhile, I started a few hunters. Mushan stuck, and the rest is history (which I’ve laid out in previous posts). Playing the hunter that summer and fall, leveling the hunter, doing dungeons on the hunter, was every bit as fun as I had imagined it would be while listening to the HPP. As a player who now had some general skill, I didn’t have any of the problems I had had in 2008 with my long-deleted original. I was topping meters, learning to use my utility abilities, enjoying playing the movement/Auto Shot game, and seriously thinking about making Mushan my main. Which eventually happened.

I was “Ana” back in the day, but now I’m “Mushan,” and that is indescribably largely due to the influence of one Frostheim.

Things lately have been quieter on the Mushan/HPP front. I often work on Saturdays, so I don’t get to listen in live when the show is recorded anymore. And the shows have often taken weeks to come out on iTunes, and so over the past several months I’ve only listened a handful of times, and I expect that to continue.

But I’ve always enjoyed listening to Frostheim, and I’m going to miss that. He has given so much to the hunter community at this point that it’s almost a cliche to say so, but I don’t care. Why?

Because without Frostheim, it’s almost certain that there would be no Mushan. And that’s of some importance, at least to me. He literally rejuvenated my WoW experience by unknowingly reintroducing me to the hunter class. He changed the game for me. Without Frostheim, I might not have switched over to a hunter. Without Frostheim, I might not even be playing the game anymore. At the very least, without Frostheim, this blog would certainly not exist in this form.

The first paragraph of this post probably makes me sound like a bit of a fan-boy. Am I a fan-boy of Frostheim? Hell yes! I think my previous paragraph does a pretty good job explaining why.

And so, to Frostheim, Thank You for all you’ve done for hunters. You’ve been a gift to us these past several years, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be following whatever you do in the future – stay in touch!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Things I’m excited about in Patch 5.3

I had a somewhat busier work week last week, so my posting took a hit. I wrote about the one thing I really enjoyed doing, which was a diversion from the norm in some ways, but there wasn’t that much else going on, so I didn’t really have much to write about.

This week, Patch 5.3 “Escalation” goes live, so I’ll now have stuff to do on my hunter – that is, non-raiding, non-Halfhill stuff – if only because I’ll have a place to spend Valor Points again. I was thinking about writing a post about that, but I didn’t feel like writing at any time yesterday.

This morning, while maintenance is percolating, I still didn’t quite know what I wanted to write about until I read the following tweet by Big Bear Butt:

Today is patch day. Not to piss on anyone’s enthusiasm, but I feel no desire to start another grind, the patch does nothing to interest me.

And then, I knew what I wanted to talk about.

Everyone is in his or her different place in this game. Doing his or her own thing. As such, excitement levels may vary.

For me, there are two key things in 5.3 that I am immediately interested in with respect to my hunter:

1. Aspect of the (Iron) Hawk will buff Attack Power by 25% instead of 15%. I’ll take an 8.69% base increase in my total Attack Power any day. Am I excited about that? HECK YEAH I’m excited about it!

2. Item level upgrades are back. 500 VP for 8 ilvls per piece. I am capped and so ready to do this now. Doing anything that rewards Valor Points has that much more meaning for my main toon again.

There are other changes. A couple of changes – Blink Strike(s) / Intimidation, more room in the stable, some pet special attack cooldown changes, etc. – mean virtually nothing to me, because they won’t affect my raiding play or my DPS. Binding Shot being gone is sort of crappy, but once again, I rarely use it. So, as far as class changes, I’m really looking forward to raiding as Survival with Mushan in 5.3.

There is a new weekly quest area in the Barrens. That’s fine. It will be nice for alts, since it means 489 gear. However, I don’t imagine it will be much of a grind for raiding mains. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s not quite another Isle of Thunder or Molten Front, grind-wise. I could be wrong though.

There’s also a new part of the legendary quest line. I’ve been ‘behind’ on that thing since the beginning, and am still collecting Secrets of the Empire. From my perspective back here in Behind Land, it’s nice to see that there is more stuff to do down the line. I’m not immediately excited about it, because I’m not there yet, but I am salivating over those ilvl 600 cloaks: the stats on those babies are just mind-boggling!

There are new pets, and pet battle changes. Nice, but don’t really care. New arena and battleground: don’t really care. Mounts, shirts, heirloom changes: don’t care. New/Heroic Scenarios? I’ll probably do them at some point, but I’m not sure, and it doesn’t really affect me either way.

I find the PvP stat changes interesting, but I don’t know how I feel about them. I’ve only done a few dozen BGs this xpac, so it’s not a large part of my game. I do, however, like the Battleground Roles feature. It’s been “time” for that to happen since, well, forever.

One thing I’m feeling… well, not excited about… but I guess “relieved” is a better word for it: the nerf to Pandaria leveling XP requirements. When I finally bring my herbalist pally through the last 30-some bars to 90 and get her her flight license, my journey will be so much easier. 

On the other hand, the new Loot Specialization tab for choosing which spec you want loot for in raids and LFR is going to be great to use on my druid and warrior. I’m definitely excited about that for those toons.

I love the game, but I really live for raid success on my hunter. As such, the Aspect of the Hawk change and the return of Valor upgrades have me excited about raiding with the new-and-improved Mushan. Since this is a non-raid patch, there is understandably not as much for me to be excited about as there was in 5.2 with Throne of Thunder and all of the potential new gear.

Patches like these bring, among other things, quality of life changes, story progression, class changes, more stuff, and so on. As such, they’re less exciting in general than big raid patches like 5.2. Maintenance is still happening as I write this, but I don’t foresee ‘new grind’ being a big feature of this patch. Legendary grinds were a given; stories with some grinds are a given. To me, it’s part of the package.

My girlfriend is excited about the new pets she can farm in old raids. She loves pets, pet battles, mounts, killing rares, and so on – they provide a nice ‘other side of the game’ when she’s not kicking major ass with her raid team. So for her, the patch is a bigger deal than it is for me.

What I mainly care about is that the hunter class is getting some love in the form of the Attack Power boost, and that I have a means to improve my toon in the absence of better raid drops. Because of this, I am excited about the patch.

But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary! :)

MMO-Champion has a nice roundup of Patch 5.3 info – check it out to see all the new features!

Hunters: Tabana has posted a concise summary of the 5.3 hunter changes over at WoW Hunters Hall. Check it out! And thanks, Tabana!

Thanks for reading these musings by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


My issues with Auto Shot

55,688,203 Damage; 10 mins. 7 secs; approximately 91.7K DPS

Skada: 55,688,203 Damage; 10 mins 7 secs; approximately 91.7K DPS

Last week, The Grumpy Elf wrote that he found he could do 38k DPS simply by letting his hunter Auto Shot in LFR. It’s a great post, and was highlighted on last weekend’s Group Quest podcast.

Then, Tuesday, Big Bear Butt wrote a post about how he listened to that podcast on Monday, and their discussion on Grumpy Elf’s post caught his ear, and, in short, he started thinking about how he wishes that all caster DPS specs had an auto attack. His post on the subject, which is also great, goes on to describe how having no auto attack can be problematic for his non-hunter casters – his moonkin in particular.

I definitely recommend checking out both posts, as well as the podcast.

Meanwhile, I’m writing this post, this reaction to the reaction. This is how it goes sometimes. :)

One great thing about these two posts is that they bring up a topic that has been bothering me for a long, long time, and even more lately.

I have issues with Auto Shot.

Both the concept and end results of Auto Shot bother me, and, unlike Bear, I would like to see Blizzard do away with it, or at least marginalize its impact on our overall damage.

What Auto Shot looks like today, Survival Edition

I spent 10 minutes on the dummy today, and the results looked fairly similar – proportionally – to what I would see on a typical single target boss fight (see screenshot at the top of this post).

This is with no buffs (other than my hyena) or food, and no tier gear at all – because I’m currently not using any tier gear – so there’s no 5% extra damage to Explosive Shot, or extra chance to proc LnL. This is just regular non-tier gear with normal stats.

The nice thing to see is that Explosive Shot looks like it’s doing a nice chunk of my damage. There is usually some percent deviation in all of these results, due to various elements of RNG and the fact that there is no boss fight that I simply stand in one spot for (and I’m far from perfect in raids), but usually ES will be on top. The next top four attacks are usually in the top four on bosses, also. In fact, usually I see SrS and Auto in either of the 2-3 positions (you can see they were in a dead heat here), but sometimes my pet attacks sneak in there, or Arcane Shot will sneak in there, particularly if I forget to switch my talent from TotH to Dire Beast.

Now, this is obviously not a complete sample (and it’s only one, but it’s fairly representative). There are times where Serpent Sting needs to be applied to an add or other boss, via SrS or Serpent Spread. There’s Kill Shot, of course. Sometimes there’s Explosive Trap, Multi Shot, and Improved SrS. It depends on the encounter, of course, and those things can change what a damage breakdown looks like. However, one thing seems to be constant from boss to boss, and that’s the presence of Auto Shot in my top 2-4 damaging abilities.

Now, how do I feel when I look at a table like this? Well, I can tell you right off the bat that I am usually frowning in silent frustration when I look and see that Auto Shot – something I had almost nothing to do with, other than to have something targeted and be using other abilities against it – is about 10% of my total damage, and that it’s one of my top abilities.

Think about that for a minute. It’s one of my top damaging abilities.

Is that fun? And, does that take much skill at all?

No.

In fact, it takes an undefined amount of extra skill to even shoot an Arcane Shot, because it requires pushing a button. Auto Shot is, by definition, automatic. It requires no skill; only that you have a working computer that has internet access, WoW downloaded and patched and subscribed to, a non-broken ranged weapon equipped, and the ability to engage monsters.

Why is Blizzard conceding 10% (or more) of our damage to us just for engaging the target?

Tangent

I used to play a cat, back in Lich King times. As a melee DPS, staying up on the boss’s ass was critical to maximizing damage.

I started moving away from that toon when they changed the Savage Roar damage buff to only apply to white swings in 4.0. With a subsequent nerf to bleed damage, it became clear that Blizzard wanted more cat damage to come from positioning and uptime. For a while, it became arguably better to stack Haste than Mastery or Crit, because Haste + uptime + that sweet buff to white swings equaled Nice. SR has changed since then, but the damage was done; I leveled a hunter, and that part of my life is long gone now.

Nonetheless, I’m not a big fan of the whole concept of white swings for player characters. One of the things I like about my mage is that everything I do is caused by myself or my pet. I’m not also smacking the boss. Everything is a result of pushing a button.

Anyway, back to hunters.

Button bloat

This is actually something of a misnomer, in this case. It’s actually “ability bloat.” As Frostheim has described the problem of button bloat on the Hunting Party Podcast, the WHU, and in comments elsewhere: the more abilities there are, the smaller the piece of the damage pie each ability can take up.

There’s only 100% of the pie. And there is only one pie. Here’s how I look at it (the pie is “your total damage” and the people are “your damage abilities” in this analogy):

If there are six people over for dinner, there can only be six pieces of pie if everyone has one piece and they collectively eat the whole pie.

If there are eight people over for dinner, then there can only be eight pieces of pie if everyone has one piece and they collectively eat the whole pie.

The pieces can be different sizes, of course, but the pie is gone when everyone has left for the night, and it’s likely that, if more people came to dinner than expected, some of them may not have gotten enough dessert.

What I don’t like about this is that, not only is ten percent of my damage coming from Auto Shot, but it’s also one of my stronger “abilities.” Yes, Black Arrow procs LnL, so there’s a direct damage correlation there. Yes, Dire Beast increases my focus regeneration, so I can shoot more Arcanes and less Cobras. That’s nice and all, but Auto Shot is scoring too highly for my comfort.

And there’s not really anything I can do about this. I can’t minimize the damage Auto Shot does: it’s automatic after all, and it scales with Attack Power and crit chance. Higher Haste means faster attack speed, which means more Auto Shots. One of my Auto Shots on this dummy session hit for 55k! So, while perhaps it’s true that gear levels that are insanely higher than mine could theoretically pull Arcane Shot a marginal distance ahead of Auto Shot due to higher levels of Mastery, the difference wouldn’t be enough to mean that Auto Shot has become much less significant.

Removing or drastically reducing Auto Shot

If Auto Shot takes up roughly 10% of the damage pie, and it were removed** (in, say, Patch 6.0), and classes were re-balanced to be reasonably close in damage output, then it would be like saying, “Well, Bernice doesn’t want any pie, so does anyone want to have a little more?” (Of course someone does – it’s pie, after all.) The pie is eaten, 100% of it is gone.

**or significantly marginalized…

Removing Auto Shot would mean that Blizzard would have the damage that Auto Shot currently does available to redistribute to other abilities. Perhaps a stronger average Black Arrow tick, or increased crit chance on Explosive Shot, or something to that effect. I don’t know where the best place to put it is, but I do know one thing:

It would have the potential to make some or all of the abilities do a higher percentage of the overall damage, because there would be one less ability crowding the others out in that “100% of total damage pie.” It could mean higher burst damage in situations where it’s needed. It could mean that executing the priority system better than someone else would mean more overall damage, as well as a larger gap between those who do so and those who don’t.

It could mean that Grumpy Elf doesn’t finish 10th on the damage meter on a pull in LFR just from auto-attacking and doing 38k DPS, causing him to wonder what the heck people are doing that make them perform even worse than that while he’s tabbed out… (read his post!)

I am possibly the only person who feels this way, and I could be totally wrong.

But it seems that, if there are a lot of abilities now, and if there is yet another ability added in the next expansion, something should go, and Auto Shot seems to me to be the best candidate.

Additionally, then ranged DPS would be slightly more equal, mechanically. Not perfectly equal, of course, but that one distinction / disparity would be gone (or close to gone).

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Soloed: Halion (10H)

Heroic Halion (10) down!

Heroic Halion (10) down!

This past Sunday afternoon, looking to do something challenging yet fun, I decided to give Heroic Halion a shot.

I had never defeated Halion before. I only ever attempted him once toward the end of Wrath with a raid group, and it was one of those things where we’d get to Phase 3 and then start dropping like flies. And I never tried soloing him during Cataclysm, because I assumed that the whole twilight realm portal thing would reset the boss. Maybe I was right, maybe not… but at any rate, it is soloable now, as was brought to my attention by this video from Cinnamohn (props to Cinnamohn for the idea and the strategy!). Check it out for the details!

I soloed him as SV in my questing spec setup (Spirit Bond, Blink Strike, Glyphs of Mending and Misdirection). It took me five attempts to get my head in gear and not stand in the crossfire forever (facepalm!), not get hit by the Twilight Cutter, not out-threat my pet, and so on, and to get him down. Because he heals himself for a sizable chunk every five seconds in Phase 3 (from 50% health till death), the majority of the fight is spent in that phase, doing more damage to him than he can heal through. Like many soloing fights, the trick is basically to execute the mechanics of the encounter while still doing enough damage and keeping the pet alive – while also keeping threat on your pet so that you don’t have to Feign Death, which will reset the boss – and Halion certainly tests that combination of skills and awareness on Heroic mode for modest soloists like myself.

It was pretty cool to attempt and defeat a boss that I’ve never seen before on Heroic, and had never defeated before. Sometime, I’d like to attempt the 25-player version, but I don’t know if I could handle that. Perhaps on normal mode…

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


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