Frostheim’s recent DPS analysis over at WoW Insider prompted me to sit down and have a think about how hunter DPS is doing in the “real WOW world” (or at least my “real WoW world”) of raiding. I recently braved the forums to post about how I thought Aspects of the Pack and Cheetah could be improved and now I’m thinking about how we deal damage.
Right now, BM is probably the go-to spec for most hunters for most fights in current (T14) content. BM offers us pretty good single target damage, can provide frighteningly good openers if you’re willing to practice and has cooldowns which synchronise well, complement each other and our mastery. We can easily turn to SV for AOE, to be less affected by pet downtime or bugs which prevent proper pet interaction with encounter mechanics. But, I don’t particularly think that our damage is necessarily bad, rather its the way we deal damage that’s holding us back.
A brief recap
T11 saw the addition of “solar cleave” to the WoW lexicon, because multi-dotting was the way to deal damage: Omnitron, Magmaw, Maloriak, Halfus, Valiona, Council and Cho’gall. T12 was more of the same: Shannox, Beth’tilac, Rhyolith, Alysrazor (kind of) and Raggy. T13…you got it! Heroic Morchok, Yor’sahj, Hagara (kind of), Warmaster, Spine and Madness. All those encounters let multi-dotters run wild. Overall, hunter DPS was ok in Tiers 11 and 12, started out horribly in T13 and then made a bit of a comeback. But, was the damage we were dealing “wrong”?
What is “wrong” damage?
When I say our damage was “wrong”, I mean in the context of the encounters we were battling. Dragon Soul put a premium on two types of damage: multi-dot/cleave and burst. SV was poor at both of those. I distinctly remember looking through the parse of my guild’s first hc Zon’ozz kill. I’d played pretty well and by the time we ‘Lusted (the last 40 seconds of the fight) I’d got all my ducks in a row: Orc racial, engineering tinker, second potion and rapid fire were all good to go. I popped ‘em all, went nuts and hoped it would be enough. It was – even though we actually killed him after the enrage timer. But it was a kill, it was fun and I seem to remember a sexy Crossbow dropping.
The logs, however, weren’t fun. Whilst my overall damage was ok, my damage in the last 40 seconds wasn’t On that fight, at that time, it was those last 40 seconds or so of hectic “nuke nuke nuke” that would make or break your attempt. I was so far off the other DPS’ers (a Fire Mage, Ret Pally, Combat Rogue, Warlock and our usual Warrior tank in his fury off-spec). By “so far off” I mean I was doing half of their burst damage. During that last 40seconds I was spiking at a little bit over 100,000dps. The Warlock and Warrior were capping out at ~150k, whilst the Rogue, Pally and Fire Mage were all spiking above 200k. Ouch!
The rest of Dragon Soul in those early months was painful for hunters. Damage was both low overall and we weren’t able to capitalize effectively on the mechanics we were faced with, not to mention our survivability was a joke, too!
Same new, same old
Tier 14 is now released and we’ve seen every encounter on at least normal mode. Once again, multi-DoT/cleave is extremely strong on a lot of the encounters. From the very first encounter in Mogushan Vaults to the very first encounter in Terrace, multi-dotters have chance after chance to capitalize.
Now, its important to note that I’m not criticising the T14 encounters. I actually like all the fights in this tier (ok, so heroic Spirit Kings can jump off a cliff – I can’t wait until we beat that fight). But, what I think is now becoming a trend has shown up again: hunters aren’t dealing damage in the most optimal way for a lot of these encounters. We have no capacity to cleave and comparing rolling serpent sting on 2 or 3 targets with, for example how a shadow priest operates, is just laughable.
Did Blizzard try and fix this for us?
When the MoP beta first became available, I was rather dismayed with the proposed changes to SV. By the time Dragon Soul drew to a close, I felt SV was playing almost perfectly – there was a nice element of RNG (Lock ‘n’ Load, Thrill of the Hunt), focus management was important, especially when Explosive Shot and BA were coming off cooldown at the same time, and there was generally a very nice rhythm to the spec.
The first release of the Beta looked like it was going to change all that – Black Arrow had no cooldown, a cast time and would cause collateral type damage to any enemies between you and your primary target. The overall tone of the feedback was negative. But, did we shoot ourselves in the foot, paw or hoof? Was Blizzard actually trying to give us a way to multi-dot?
Equip Tin-Foil Hat
Could the MOP paradigm have been: BM for single target, SV for multi-dotting? Might SV have been able to roll both Serpent Sting and Black Arrow on multiple targets and benefit from extra Lock ‘n’ Loads to put us in a similar position to, say, a shadow priest (who can boost their single target damage by rolling DoTs on multiple targets)? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. But its an interesting thought given the predicament hunters are in at the moment.
I guess this leads us to a final question: If the trend of multi-target fights continues on into tiers 15, 16 and beyond, does the way hunters deal damage need to change as well?
In truth, I’ve vacillated on an answer for the past week or so. On the one hand I’d like to be able to complete with our neighbourhood Warlocks and Shadow Priests on fights such as Will of the Emperor. But on the other hand, any change that granted hunters genuine multi-dot capability would be a huge sea change to the class and would probably come with a punch to the kidney type nerf to another aspect of our damage dealing in order to compensate. Would hunters accept a reduction in single target damage in order to be able to effectively multi-dot?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.