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?


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?


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!


2 Comments on “My issues with Auto Shot”

  1. kheldul says:

    IF they reduced auto-attack, I’d rather they just remove it. I’m fine with Hunters having a heart-beat attack. It keeps for a good rhythm. But if it isn’t worth 10% then it’s more trouble than it is worth. Think of all the times you need to hit ESC-ESC, or have crazy things macro’d to turn off your attacks.

  2. mrandmrswow says:

    I must admit, I have no idea how to play my hunter, but I enjoy it immensely. I hope you get your auto-shot issue resolved soon ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s