Post-Pandemonium Pondering

I wish I had written a prediction post before Blizzcon, because there were so many things they revealed that I was sure was going to be revealed; pandas, panda continent, monk class, pandas being a neutral race, etc. But there were also many things I could not foresee at all… Dungeon challenges? Awesome! WoW-Pokémon? What… uhm.. ooh, that looks kinda cool! No new big bad villain to let us know how the expansion ends? Hmm.. interesting.

If you want to see the massive list of new features planned for Mists of Pandaria then I suggest you check out MMO-Champion. Here I’ll add my thoughts to some of the new features instead of just rambling through all of them yet again.

Pandaria

This expansion is a shift for Blizzard, they are trying many new things at once here. Probably because Cataclysm was mostly just following old formula and as an effect of that they lost a lot of subscribers.

In this expansion they are not going with a big villain up front, instead it’s us, the players, who are the real bad guys. We’ll bring war to Pandaria and with that, we’ll recreate horrors unseen for many thousands of years. With our anger and hatred we’ll bring back the Sha, which is just hate embodied really.

And who knows what else? This is the key here, we’re venturing into the unknown, we don’t know what lies ahead and personally, I find this very exciting. In Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm we knew exactly what raids and dungeons lied ahead. This time we have no clue! What will be the last raid tier of Mists of Pandaria? Nobody knows! And when will it happen? Could be any time.

Pandas

A lot of people thought the pandas were a joke and just too cuddly for general consumption. I disagree, they look awesome and I want more pandas. Furthermore their animations are epic and I really hope they will be able to up all the old races animations/models to this level of detail.

Lets ignore all the visuals of the new race though and lets focus on what really matters; the new racials!

Epicurean – This will be a massive boost to any class/spec. Rather than increasing one specific stat like 1% crit or 1% haste, which might or might not be beneficial for you. This bonus is just a fantastic “you get exactly what you want” buff. Dpsers, tanks and healers will all enjoy this buff and it is also immune to any patch changes that makes funny things to stat weights, you can just go for a different stat then the previous one you were using!

Let us compare this to other racials as a hunter if it were to exist during Cataclysm, right now (using my character as reference point):

  • Night elf: +-0 dps (no dps increasing racials)
  • Worgen: +215 dps (1% crit)
  • Orc: +376 dps (increased pet damage and an extra cooldown)
  • Pandaren: +324 dps (90 extra Agility)

If Pandaren were playable right now, it’d be the best race for Alliance hunters but for Horde hunters, Orc is still the way to go.

In the next expansion we might see slightly different tuning to all of these numbers so what will be best then remains to be seen, I have a hunch though that the Pandaren will come out ahead cause that’s usually what Blizzard likes to do with the new races.

Gourmand – A boost to cooking rather than a specific profession which you may or may not have. This one bypasses that frustration and provides you with a bonus to cooking, which everyone can use.

Inner Peace – Basically you level faster… Nice!

Bouncy – You take less falling damage. Sounds useful but not vital, I imagine there will be boss encounters where your healers will love you for having this and it might be useful in general when leveling…. I know I tended to fall from a few cliffs myself when leveling.

Quaking Palm – You can put an enemy to sleep for 3 seconds. This sounds like a really great extra ability for PvPers, but consider that the cooldown on this will most likely be ridiculously high like maybe 3 minutes and if so, it won’t really make that much of a difference in battlegrounds… but maybe in arena. Hm, hm.

No more minimum range for hunters

The class feedback form for hunters resulted in pretty much a 100% of people said they hated minimum range and wanted it gone for good. And guess what, now it is! Along with this change is a removal of melee weapon slot for hunters (and removal of ranged weapons for other classes), now we’ll only have a ranged weapon and that’s it. This opens up for displaying the ranged weapon on our back when it’s not in our hands and all that great stuff which I was wishing for in the feedback form, fantastic!

This will be a massive change for us and for Blizzard in both PvP and in PvE.

In PvP we’ll be able to deal damage and regen focus while in melee range and therefor we’ll be able to deal with any other melee class more effectively (even though we still want to get away from them to survive) and healers when they pillarhump and even casters, since most of them know to be in melee with us.

In PvE we’ll be able to stand in melee when needed. This means we don’t have to stand outside of the group (with all the AOE heals) during that burn phase, or have to run away from huge hitboxes (Rhyolith anyone?) and always being out of range of healers. We’d be able to help out on crystals effectively on Baleroc. We wouldn’t be in the back of the room on Marrowgar, being spiked to death alone cause no one noticed the hunter in the back, etc, etc, etc.

This opens up for new possibilities for us to play our class and for Blizzard to design raid encounters now that they don’t have to take minimum range into consideration. They could even design bosses that have such enormous hitboxes that covered the whole room so melee would always be in range – it’s ok now. There are no more suffering hunters from humongous hitboxes!

No more melee weapons isn’t all good…

Ok, so I don’t want to put a downer on the whole “no melee weapons for hunters”-deal. I really like this new approach and I think it makes sense. But…

Old Ironjaw

What about quest items that need to be equipped (fire extinguishers, lances)?

What about flavour items that go in a melee slot (brewsteins, frying pans, ice creams, profession items, flowers, foam swords, canes)?

What about fishing poles?!

WHAT ABOUT OLD IRONJAW?

New talent system

Mists of Pandaria will have a new talent system, which is based more on providing interesting choices than a way for you to maximize the potential of your character. If they can deliver on this promise or not is still up in the air at this point. As an attempt to make Blizzard work even harder on making this a reality I will try to create some cookie-cutter specs right away.

I give you, the new cookie-cutter raid spec:

  • Venom Tipped Arrows: Leaves a dot on your target, this means more dps. Alternatively the Arcane Arrows could provide more dps, depending on how much focus you gain out of it and how much damage the Venom Tipped Arrows do, but once the numbers have been crunched, one of the two should be a clear winner.
  • Silencing Shot: It’s always useful to have an interrupt in a raid, the extra cc and stun the other two choices provide are most likely not as useful.
  • Posthaste: In a raid you will most likely use Disengage to move from or to things, rather than because you have someone beating on your face. Therefor the speed increase from Posthaste will be more beneficial to you than the healing or mitigation that the other talents provide.
  • Spirit Bond: You gain some passive healing which means you’ll need less healing by the healers of the raid. This is a better choice than Aspect of the Iron Hawk because that one specifically says “direct damage” (not AOE damage), which you won’t be receiving very often,
  • Readiness: Fervor pales in comparison to Readiness and Thrill of the Hunt is cool and all but nowhere near as cool as having an extra Rapid Fire every 3 min.
  • Flash Freeze: For kiting mobs, Black Ice will be superior, but if you’re one of the designated CCers of the raid then you’ll want Flash Freeze. Not having a cd on the freezing trap means your CC is THAT much more effective.

… and the cookie-cutter pvp spec:

  • Frozen Arrows: You keep your enemies slowed, a clear winner.
  • Silencing Shot: Again, Silencing shot is just much better in general than the other two options.
  • Exhilaration: When you’re disengaging in PvP it’s probably because you have a warrior or rogue in your face making you bleed for lots of damage. Therefor that heal that Exhilaration provides will almost always be useful and potentially lifesaving. Evasiveness doesn’t seem as good because once you’ve disengaged away from the enemy… you don’t actually need to mitigate their hits anymore, you’re already away!
  • Aspect of the Iron Hawk: In PvP you’ll take a lot of direct damage and a 15% damage reduction to that is wicked good.
  • Readiness: Readiness rules the world in PvP, it’s the biggest reason we are even brought to arenas!
  • Black Ice: Kiting people forever through traps? Sign me up! The Transmorph trap seems very fun and cool as well but you’ll most likely be kiting people rather than needing another CC.

There you go, my cookie-cutter specs. Do you disagree, have some better ideas or maybe suggestions for what Blizzard should do instead? Give me a comment! :)

Cheers,
Gav

Posted in General, Hunter, Reflection | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Hunter Feedback to Blizzard

Recently Blizzard asked us all to give them our thoughts about the current state of our class and wishes for the future of that same class. They ask that we answer them using this little form that they’ve provided and that we submit our answers to each class’s respective thread.

At the time of writing this post, the US & EU threads for Hunters have over 103 pages combined. This is also the highest number of pages of feedback for any class. The closest competitor is Paladin feedback, which is just under 100 pages at the moment. The class with the least amount of feedback is currently Death Knights with just 63 pages of feedback.

Update (09/17): Frostheim has attempted to analyse the hunter feedback and put together what he believes is the general opinion of hunters out there.

Since my own feedback was too long to actually put in the thread (silly character limits…), I’ve decided to just put it straight on my blog instead! So, here follows my answers to the class feedback form:

What type of content do you focus on? [PvE/PvP/Both]

  • Both.

If PvE, what type of PvE? [Heroics/Raids/Other]

  • I’ve been raiding 3-days a week since the start of WotLK. I do progression content in 25-man and 10-man and I like to do old raids for fun and generally only do heroics when I need to grind points.

If PvP, what type of PvP? [Arenas, BGs, Rated BGs]

  • I do Arenas (trying to get high rating but struggling), random battlegrounds and rated battlegrounds with my guild.

What are your biggest quality-of-life issues? For instance, no longer requiring ammo could be considered a quality-of-life improvement for hunters.

  • Trap Launcher is clunky. The most efficient way of using it at the moment is to have a macro for each trap to set up a cast sequence to first activate Trap Launcher and then use the trap needed and then ofc to target the trap and cast it. This macro has to be pressed twice to work and then you spend time on actually targeting where the trap should be.If we could have traps just work as the old “Freezing Arrow” instead it would make everything a lot easier, faster and less clunky.
  • Pets spawning with ~6k health and getting one-shotted by a nearby mob, boss ability, AOE, enemy player, etc.
    I realize that they spawn with such low health cause they haven’t synched up with the health from all my gear, level, etc. But couldn’t they just spawn with a safe 100k baseline hp instead so they could survive a first hit by random damage before they get their proper health?

What makes playing your class more fun?

  • Being able to deal damage on the move. It just adds a sense of excitement to any raid or battleground. Any raid encounter that forces me to pay attention and move a lot means more fun to be had. :)
  • Successfully using all my survival cds, kiting abilities, cc abilities, etc, to get away from another player and kill them from a distance. I suspect this is mostly so satisfying cause it very, very rarely happens.

What makes playing your class less fun?

  • The deadzone in PvE – In tier 11, a lot of boss encounters had removed deadzones on bosses to ensure hunters wouldn’t have to be a burden on their raid team when everyone was forced to stack up, etc. But now in t12 raiding content this is no longer the case. Encounters that could really benefit from removing of the deadzone (Bethi’lac for phase 2, Baleroc in 10-man when hunters will have to go in melee, Rhyolith and his legs) still have it and any adds in any encounter will still have a deadzone which just makes the whole system feel clunky and counter-intuitive. It should either be NO deadzone or ALWAYS a deadzone, otherwise it just makes no sense.
  • The deadzone in PvP – The balancing act of “get away” cds and “get to” cds between different classes feels favored towards the classes with “get to” cds. In any 1on1 situations when you aren’t able to utilize all your cds to get away, you will most likely die.
  • When feign death doesn’t save me from dying when a raid group is wiping. The problem is that you will still be targeted by boss abilities during feign death and therefore you will almost always get targetted by some “cast on target” attack by the boss and end up dead anyway. And then not able to mass resurrect your friends. This just feels down-right UN-HUNTERY. To make it worse, mages always manage to survive using Invisibility. :/

How do you feel about your “rotation”? (Rotation is the accepted order in which abilities are used to maximum efficiency.)

  • Marksman (PvE) – The usage of casted Aimed Shot feels clunky. While it is fun to try and manage casting that long cast and managing the uptime of Improved Steady Show at the same time, it just feels like something isn’t right. It breaks Auto Shot and it can’t be used on the move with Aspect of the Fox.
  • Marksman (PvP) – In PvP it feels a lot like you have a “big boom” button with Chimera Shot and a really nice finisher with glyphed Kill Shot (making it double), but everything in between just feels pointless and weak. Steady Shot and Arcane Shot doesn’t appear to make a dent most of the time and there’s no point in using Serpent Sting because then you are disabling yourself from CCing that target in the future if needed.
  • Survival (PvE)- Very rigid and uneventful rotation. Yes you have Explosive Shot in there but it’s very predictable and you react to it the same way every time. It’s a bit boring perhaps but it’s also nice to have an “easier” spec to pick if you’re in that kind of mood.I also love the AOE with the spreading of the Serpent Sting dot, that is glorious.
  • Beast Mastery (PvE)- Incredibly spammy, but also fun because it feels like you’re doing “more” than everyone else. Managing optimal Bestial Wrath usage makes the spec interesting and I would play the spec a lot more often, if it wasn’t for this problem with Kill Command…Kill Command doesn’t work when the pet isn’t near the target, this is so incredibly frustrating I cannot find words to describe. It seems like almost any encounter there is some reason for your pet to run around the place and not have your Kill Commands go off, messing up your rotation.

    Wouldn’t it be possible to have Kill Command “queue” up when the pet isn’t near a target? Or at least if the pet was sort of near a target but not just in melee right that second?

What’s on your wish list for your class?

  • Reworking Camoflauge (in PvP, in PvE it’s fine)! Currently it does not hide the hunter on the move, it instead makes the hunter extra noticeable by making him or her bright, sparkly and shiny… If used when standing still you still do not recieve the desired effect. You become “a hunter who just disappeared… Aha! He must be standing still in camo. I’ll go over there and be in melee with him”. I have never been able to use camouflage as a way to hide from an enemy, only as a tool to draw attention to myself, away from tanks or healers in PvP.Basically I just wish camouflage would actually camouflage me. I’d also really like it if it did combo with some other ability so it was useful in raids, but that’s not really nearly as important as just making it function as intended.
  • I wish hunters didn’t use big two-handed staves.They are meant for druids and tend to look wrong on a hunter for the most part. What would make sense to me would be to scrap the current weapon set up for hunters and change it to:Ranged weapon (instead of the main hand) – Dagger (off hand) – Pet collar (essentialy, a “relic” slot)

    (And yes I know we can equip dual daggers, but doing so means about 20% less stats and therefor isn’t really an option for any serious PvEr/PvPer)

  • Displaying ranged weapons on the character model instead of the big staff/polearm. If we had daggers instead then ofc those could be displayed at the same time.

What spells do you use the least?

  • Counterattack - literally never used it since I started playing.
  • Immolation Trap - used maybe twice in 2.5 years
  • Beast Lore - it’s nice that it’s there but never really found the need to use it.
  • Wing Clip - unfortunately since it only slows enemies by 50% it really has no use in PvP anymore. You will always have your enemy slowed by 50% with your Chimera Shot and your enemy will have you slowed by 50% or more since he/she is already in melee. So slowing the enemy to 50% when they are in melee does not mean you can get away. If this ability stunned for 2 seconds and then caused the target to be slowed by 75%, gradually speeding up to 0%, then the ability would make more thematic sense (“Wing Clip”) and would actually be useful.
  • Scare Beast - exclusively used for fearing feral druids in PvP. Seems a bit too specialized for an ability.

If you’d like to contribute by filling out your own form, go to the US or EU thread for hunter feedback.

Cheers,
Gav

Posted in General, Hunter | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Blizzard giving their customers what they want

There are a number of persistent truths in our world that people refuse to believe in. One of them is that women like sex just as much as men, another is that Dave Mustaine couldn’t sing to save his life in a live concert. But more importantly and relevant to this blog post is that when it comes to business, the bottom line is always money.

When a company (Blizzard) loses a monthly income of $13.5 million ($15 for each of the recently lost 900 000 subscribers) then they will take drastic measures to recoup that loss. They absolutely have to do this, they owe it to their employees, their shareholders and investors to ensure the company remains profitable. If not, many of the some 4000+ employees at Blizzard would have to be laid off to keep the company running.
I’m not trying to say Blizzard is doing a bad thing here by caving in to what their customers want and trying to increase their profitability. I’m saying it’s a necessity and nothing to be frowned at.

But here’s the interesting thing, what does this shift in “game developer to customer”-relationship mean, for us, the customers?
Before this massive loss of customers, Blizzard had been doing everything right. Their success had only increased, everything they said and did was the right thing to do. What we said was just up for consideration, not necessarily implementation – because Blizzard knew best! But now, that is no longer true. Since they have been losing customers, we now have the upper hand – the customers knows best.

In other words, if you want a feature and you make it known loud and clear, with many others, you will probably see it in the game sometime in the near future. Providing of course that this new feature doesn’t ruin the game for the other people who didn’t request the feature.
For example, if all rogues demands they should have a button to kill all players in the same zone as them, all non-rogues probably wouldn’t like it too much… So you’d be wasting your time trying to get that feature implemented.
But on the other hand if a large group of players would love to have a dance studio feature – which doesn’t ruin the game for anyone – that could very likely get added to the game.

Changes and promises so far

Since the decline in subscribers, Blizzard has already implemented and/or promised several changes to try and remedy the situation:

  • A free to play model for lvl 1-20. This change didn’t really change anything else than the name of “trial” to “free to play” and removed the time limit on it. But in the long run it means being able to rope in more subscribers.
  • Made casual dungeon running less frustrating for casuals. This was achieved by increasing the buff to 15%, removing crowd control aggro and buffing tanks threat into oblivion to the point where threat is no longer a meaningful mechanic other than for the first few seconds of a pull.
  • Work in progress on making tanking fun, by changing their whole play style so that their rotation matters when it comes to surviving incoming damage. If they can solve this, then it also solves the problem of long dungeon queues, win-win.
  • Void Storage and Transmogrification: Adding the long since requested feature of more storage space for soulbound items and at the same time making the old sets of gear useful to create new  looks for yourself and making you feel more unique in the game.
  • Raid Finder: This has been requested since the Dungeon Finder was added to the game back in 2009. This was always dismissed by Blizzard themselves as an impossibility due to raid groups requiring more coordination than what a randomly assembled group usually possessed. Such concerns have now been thrown out of the window to give the customers what they want.
  • Pandas! The next expansion will in all likelihood be called Mists of Pandaria and feature the elusive Pandaren race which have been one of the races that players have always hoped to see in game.
  • Account-wide achievement support has often been asked for and recently suggested by Blizzard that they are working on implementing it.

All of the above are things that Blizzard in the past have dismissed as bad ideas or things they just won’t have time to do. But now, the rules have changed and Blizzard are trying everything they can to please their customers. Is this really a good idea? I think so, yes. As long as they give the Blizzard touch of Quality on every new feature then I’m sure they will be great additions.

Raid finder

Like for example with the Raid Finder. This is a feature that could either be absolutely horrific, ugly and scary to use. Or as one of the guildies recently said “They should call it the Wipe Finder”.
It doesn’t have to be a Wipe Finder, it could just as easily be the Awesome Pug Finder.
There are two ways of going about it, either you make it closed off and have some limitations such as “you need to have cleared this content X amount of times on one of your characters” to ensure that everyone who joins knows what they are doing.

Or you make the Raid Finder limited to previous tier content, which Blizzard have previously stated that they want to be puggable, and nerfing it a bit more by adding some percentage buffs like in the dungeon finder. Ensuring that groups entering these raids have a lot of room for error.

The biggest problem with the Raid Finder that I foresee though is the lack of leadership in a random raid group. If not a single person (who knows what he or she is talking about) is able to assume the leadership role and then having everyone else listen to that person, then the group will just fail.
Overcoming this problem will be the toughest challenge when implementing this feature.

What lies ahead

No matter what Blizzard does, the customer base for the now almost 7 years old game World of Warcraft will diminish to a much smaller number than the current some 11 million subscribers. No matter how many Pandas you add to the game, it will still slowly die, this is inevitable.

However, the death of World of Warcraft will be very slow, most likely the game will last for 10 more years, maybe even more. But during that time the game will change… a lot.

I (doomsday voice) predict that…

  • As the subscriber base begins to fall, several realms will merge together until eventually only a small number remains.
  • New patches will contain less new content and the developers will come up with ideas to rehash old content and make it scalable to add variety to the game without having to do as much work (thus keeping the work load down).
  • We will see dynamic events added to the world, giving players a reason to travel across Azeroth and adding more random content for players to enjoy.
  • There will be hundreds of more rare drop collectable mounts/pets/etc to collect, giving thousands of more hours of grindy gaming to the hardcore players.

A day in the life…

Imagine it’s the year 2019. You log on WoW to play your Ogre Warrior because you are hoping to get that random mount drop Ashes of Al’ar (yes, it’s still THAT rare). You sign up using the Raid Finder and get into Tempest Keep which has been scaled to fit your level (100). You and the other 9 people who are also there for the possible mount drop, sexy tier gear and relaxing casual raiding have a fun time beating the raid in a matter of 1 Hr. You are all a bit disappointed that the mount STILL didn’t drop but reasonably pleased to get 1/4th of your Valor point cap done for the week and thank each other for the nice group and say “it’s time to do some dailies”!

Here's a random picture of Richard Hammond! (He'll be 50 years old in 2019, imagine that...)

While you travel in your personal houseboat to the island which contains all of the current daily quest you run into a maelstrom! A beast from beneath the sea appears, threatening to destroy you. A dynamic event has been started and other people start gathering to take down the beast. After about 5-10 minutes of combat you and the others slay the beast and each get a bag of loot. Once the loot has been earned you each go your separate ways, one maybe heads to the daily island with you, someone else might be fishing for that rare elusive fish for that rare feat of strength while a third might be traveling far beneath the surface of the water, looking for those extremely rare and hard to find crystals that he can then later sell on the Auction House and earn some dollars.

After doing some grindy but necessary dailies while chatting with your guildies for about 30 minutes, you maybe do Arathi Basin for the millionth time or log off to play some Titan.

All in all, you are still enjoying the game, but you are probably enjoying something else a bit more. You still stay though, for the community and because you have invested 15 years of your life into this game and you don’t want to throw that away.

And on that bomb shell…. this post abruptly ends!

Cheers,
Gav

P.S. It’s really tough to write and head bang at the same time. Damn you Dave Mustaine, you rock too hard!

Posted in General, Reflection | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Tier 12 Hunter Gear

Arathar, the Eye of Flame - This awesome looking bow drops from Ragnaros himself.

Patch 4.2 arrived a few weeks ago and with it, a new tier of raiding and when we have a new tier of raiding… we also have a new tier of gear and this is what we are going to be looking at today.

When it comes to maximizing your potential through gearing, the most important aspect is to maximize your Agility. Different items of the same item level, filling the same slot, will almost always have the exact same amount of Agility, which means the most important differences between different items will be; sockets and secondary stats.

Basically you want items with red socket slots, preferably with an Agility socket bonus or socket bonuses that give +30 Agility or more so that using a mixed color gem isn’t decreasing your Agility potential. And secondly you want to favor Crit over other secondary stats since it provides the most dps per rating compared Haste or Mastery. However, you don’t want to have 0 of any stat, all stats work together to better each other so it does not hurt at all to have some of the other stats on your gear.

To sum up:

Stat priority:
DPS > Agility > Hit (under cap) > Crit > Haste > Mastery

Note: There are also Haste plateaus which causes the value of Haste to change rapidly depending on how close to the plateau you are. This is why spreadsheets evaluation of Haste, generally is wonky.

Basically, when you add enough enough Haste to fit an extra attack in your rotation, then Haste has added significant dps benefit. More so than any other secondary stat. But for increases of Haste which does not cause you to be able to fit an extra ability in, you are only increasing your dps linearly through increased auto attack speed and pet attack speed.

Here are some handy guides on Haste plateaus from WHU; BM, MM & SV.

Tier 12 set bonuses

(2) Set: Your Steady Shot and Cobra Shot have a 10% chance to trigger a Flaming Arrow, dealing 80% instant weapon damage as Fire.
(4) Set: You have a 10% chance from your autoshots to make your next shot or Kill Command cost no focus.

This tier we have two well-balanced set bonuses. Last tier the first set bonus was almost inconsequential and then the second set bonus was so strong it was ridiculous. For comparison, in this tier you will see about equal dps benefit from both set bonuses, adding up to being in total, a bit stronger than the tier 11′s 4-piece bonus.

When to switch

  • If you have 4-piece tier 11 right now then it will be beneficial for your dps to switch to tier 12 as soon as you can get 2 pieces .
  • If you have heroic 4-piece tier 11 right now then it won’t be beneficial for your dps to switch to tier 12 until you can get 4 pieces.
  • If you have2 heroic pieces and 2 normal pieces of tier 11, then it will be beneficial to switch out the 2 normal pieces for tier 12. But, it’s only a small benefit.

The items slot by slot

Head

The tier helm from Ragnaros comes with a +30 Agility socket bonus from a yellow gem slot which will be worth gemming for and will be a dps advantage over helm from Shannox. Other than that there’s also more favorable secondary stats on the tier helm, Crit and Haste over Crit and Mastery. And of course, the tier helm also grants you the set bonus if you have all the pieces. All of this leads to the tier helm being the best option.

Neck

The necklace from Ragnaros has a higher item level than the valor point necklace and therefor has more of all stats on it and is therefor indisputably better.

Shoulders

Flickering Shoulders has +9 Agility over the tier piece due to it’s gemming bonus. This item has a random enchant though and can give you any combination of two stats from this list; Hit, Crit, Haste, Mastery. If you are lucky and end up with a Crit and Haste on it, then it is much better than the tier piece. And even if you don’t get that magic combination, this item will be better than the tier piece since it has the +9 Agility and since the tier piece has Mastery as one of it’s secondary stats.

You should only really go for the tier piece to fill your set bonus requirements, but if you can fill it elsewhere, do so.

Cloak

You can easily pick up the Mantle of Doubt after a bit of questing to get to the Molten Front daily questing zone. A day or two later, after raiding Firelands and killing some trash and get Friendly with Avengers of Hyjal you will be given the Sleek Flamewrath Cloak. Then you will think, is it worth getting the Dreadfire Drape? Yes, it is! The Dreadfire Drape has a total of +312 Agility with gems, that’s a staggering 85 more Agility than Sleek Flamewrath Cloak!

Chest

These two pieces are very even in terms of dps contribution, there are upsides and downsides to both. Basically you’ll want the tier piece if you’re missing a piece to complete the set bonuses and you’ll want the other item if you desperately need hit rating.

Wrist

Again, these two items are very similar. Only the secondary stats differ. Bracers of Forked Lightning comes with Crit and Mastery while Hide-Bound Chains comes with Hit and Haste. Here it comes down to what stat you need, if you don’t specifically need any of those stats to hit a threshold then either will work fine.

Also noteworthy here is that the Valor point bracers are actually BoE. So the most efficient way of getting the bracers is buying them from someone else or do troll heroics on an alt for two weeks yourself and pick them up for your hunter.

Gloves

The tier piece has the most favorable secondary stats but looses in the end since it has less Agility due to requiring a yellow gem for its socket bonus. Either of the other two items will come with more Agility but also suffer from having Mastery as a secondary stat coupled with Haste or Crit. You will most likely want Grips of Unerring Precision, which comes with Haste and Mastery, because it uses less of the stat budget on Mastery and puts more of it into Haste.

Waist

That’s it! Get to Honored with Avengers of Hyjal by killing lots of trash in Firelands and rejoice in your new permanent tier 12 belt.

Legs

Again it’s just the secondary stats that really differ, that and the fact that one of these two items is a tier piece and is therefor beneficial if you are lacking the set bonuses still. Regardless of set bonuses, the tier piece has better secondary stats and should always be favored over the other item.

Feet

The craftable comes with 1 Agility more than the Baleroc drop, unfortunately this isn’t enough up to weigh up against the fact that it also comes with Mastery. The Baleroc drop has Hit and Crit and should be favored over the other item, but in all fairness they are very equal.

Rings

The best ring available to us in this tier is the one you get from reaching Exalted with Avengers of Hyjal. The second best ring would be Widow’s Kiss or Splintered Brimstone Seal, both of these are very close but I’d go for Widow’s Kiss since it uses less of it’s stat budget on Mastery.

One of the two 365 rings is available after maybe 3 weeks of grinding the Molten Front daily quests (a few days more for the other ring). At this point, if you are raiding, you will most likely have a 378 ring but probably not two and therefor you could very likely be in a position to choose between the two 365 rings. If you are, then go for Band of Glittering Lights, this is sold by the vendor who requires the Filling the Moonwell quest done.

Trinkets

The Matrix Restabilizer clearly is the best trinket available this tier due to it’s superior item level but also because of it’s wonderful stats and procc. The Hungerer is a nice trinket for your second slot but do keep in mind it is only slightly better than Fluid Death which you can get from the Justice point vendor. Basically, if you can get the hit elsewhere than from the Justice point trinket, then go for The Hungerer.

There is an excellent article on WHU that talks about trinket choices in this tier, including the options from the previous tier and how good the new ones are in relation to them.

2H weapon

Luckily for all feral druids out there who desperately want the fire-kitty staff (Fandral’s Flamescythe), the trash drop polearm Ranseur of Hatred is our best possible 2h weapon of choice. Why? It has Crit and Haste whilst the other one comes with Crit and Mastery.

Ranged weapon

Clearly the higher item level bow from Ragnaros wins the best in slot title here too. But before you’re able to get your hands on that you will need to use another ranged weapon and that weapon should be the Lava Bolt Crossbow. It has equal primary stats to Arbalest of Erupting Fury but comes with more favorable secondary stats, having said that, either will do of course. When it comes to secondary stats the difference is always minor.

What about the Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher? Is it worth the gold? The answer here unfortunately will be; It depends on the cost on your server. The materials required to make it are pretty costly (at least on my server) causing it have to be sold at ~10k to break even from the seller, and of course will want to make a profit. So I would expect to see it up for 15k gold on the AH.

And then we have the Lava Bolt Crossbow, which has higher item level and therefor much higher dps contribution (especially since it’s our main weapon)… and this item is a trash drop and will therefor also be available on the auction house. I don’t think it’s farfetched to see this item up for 15k in your local auction house sometime soon.

Therefor, I recommend not to invest in the Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher, since you will most likely be able to get the much better Lava Bolt Crossbow for a similar cost.

If you play a Dwarf, you should read this guide by OutDPS on how to obtain the only available gun in this tier.

Cheers,
Gav

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Fixing the Lava Bolt Crossbow

If you are a hunter and you have been raiding Firelands since patch 4.2 arrived, chances are you could’ve come across this weapon; the Lava Bolt Crossbow. If you have, congratulations on your new crossbow! You will most likely keep this odd looking hammer-styled crossbow until you can get the beautiful bow off Ragnaros (Yes I am a sucker for bows… we all have our vanities!).

This crossbow is excellent for us in terms of stats, plenty of Agility, Crit, Haste and what have you to please any hunter.

However, there is one problem… It sounds like a gun! This is because the weapon was originally intended to be the Lava Bolt Blunderbuss (a gun) but was changed last minute to a crossbow since there was a lack of artwork for it (theorized to be the reason anyway). But when they made the last minute change, they forgot to change the sound for it back to a regular bow/crossbow sound. So now you have to deal with the horrible noise of a gun when using your hammer-time crossbow.

And unfortunately, according to Blizzard, this requires a client-side fix which means you probably won’t see a fix until patch 4.3 or if they make a small patch 4.2a. You could quite possibly have this gun sound problem on your hands for months!

How to fix

Never fear! A fix is here!

Get this “addon” from Curse to replace gun sounds with bow/crossbow sounds. This will also replace all other gun noises to bow noises, but I see this as an added bonus rather than a negative thing.

Basically you get a .zip file with a “Sound” folder in it. Place this “Sound” folder in the “World of Warcraft\Data\” folder and you will be good to go!

Cheers,
Gav

Posted in General, Guides, Hunter, Hunter Gear | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments