Hunters Have Too Many Buttons

Posted: by Frostheim


Today on WoW Insider, I discuss how hunters have too many buttons, and why that is a problem.

There will always be some hunters who disagree with anything (believe it or not I recently read a hunter who thinks removing minimum range made the game no longer playable) but most hunters these days agree that we hunters have too damn many buttons. And it’s not just us: in a recent tweet Ghostcrawler said so too:

We don’t think hunters need a massive revamp (beyond range and ammo changes they already have). They do have too many buttons.

Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot that can be done in the middle of an expansion — frankly what needs to happen is a bunch of these abilities just need to go. But remove anything (even minimum range) and you’ll hear complaints, not to mention making hunters learn new rotations mid-expansion is bad design move. But I think there are some things that can be done to mitigate the situation.

But first lets get into why too many buttons is a bad thing, because there are actually two important reasons. … Read More.

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  1. Bowmont says:

    1 Button Rotation :)

    /startattack
    /castsequence reset=target Serpent Sting,null
    /castsequence reset=1 Cobra Shot
    /castsequence Kill Command,Focus Fire, Arcane Shot, Arcane Shot, Arcane Shot, Dire Beast
    /castsequence reset=120 Intimidation,Bestial Wrath,Rapid Fire, Lynx Rush
    /cast Glaive Toss
    /cast Readiness

  2. Paringe says:

    I kinda like having all the buttons. Keeps me from getting bored during tank/spank fights. I will admit thought they are a pain when it comes to fights with alot of moment, but Blizz already took away the aspect dance which helps.

  3. Verg says:

    With Cataclysm we got 1s GCDs (down from 1.5s), so we hit about 50% more buttons.

    With Pandaria we got four more buttons (three talents plus Stampede).

    With 5.1 we got one button removed (Aspect of the Fox). Frost’s idea of DB and MoC to passives would be wonderful.

    … I really liked the steady focused rotation of MM in late Wrath. Precise timing, a few things to watch, but mostly about exact execution.

    Proud to be a Hunter, and I’ll keep at it… but not enjoying whack-a-mole. Not even sure I know priority between Glaive Toss, Dire Beast, and Blink Strike… let alone whether or not I’m keeping close to the proper rotation during a fight.

    • Iridar says:

      They also removed a lot of abilities. If you think about it, they reworked Trap Launcher, so it doesn’t *require* separate (and often used) keybind.
      They removed Wing Clip, Aspect of the Wild, Raptor Strike, made Death Mark glyph (auto choice for all situations), so we don’t really *need* hunter’s mark glyph, etc. etc.

      We have as much keybinds as we used to, we just use them more now.

      • Iridar says:

        Errr typo: so we don’t really *need* hunter’s mark ON A KEYBIND

      • Frostheim says:

        They removed buttons that we rarely used, and never used in raiding rotations, and added a bunch of buttons that we have to use constantly in raiding rotations.

        None of those removed shots had any impact on our rotation shots; the new ones all cause our other main shots to need to do comparatively less damage.

        This is part of the reason that we had issues both with arcane shot being as good/better than explosive shot *and* being worse than cobra shot during balancing. The margins are tiny.

      • Iridar says:

        I agree, I just was pointing out that we still have about the same amount of keybinds.

        Obviously it’s whac-a-mole now.

    • Marty says:

      Yes, on tank and spank fights passive DB and MoC would save us some time and maybe result in a little higher dps.

      But what about fights with increased damage phase? We would lose here badly.
      Not mentioning stacking with potions, trinkets, procs….

      Long story short I love more control over my dps and I think I’m not alone in that.

  4. Armin says:

    I’m fine with more buttons. Don’t turn us into one-button-is-top-dps mages.

    In the beginning it was hard, but now it is almost automatic.

    I also disagree that other shots have to do less damage automaticly. The new buttons replace an other button. Powershot does a lot of damage but takes a whopping 3 seconds and has a massive cooldown. MoC uses a lot of focus, that could have been used on arcane spam. Etc.

    If you think we have too many buttons, simply take the talents with the longest cooldown…

    • Frostheim says:

      They do. By force every button in our rotation does more damage than we’d do without it — if not, we wouldn’t use that ability. And every ability that increases our damage really just reduces the damage of other abilities, since our total DPS can’t change relative to balance.

      • Armin says:

        That is too simplistic. The idea that an extra button must do more damage is not true. It must do more damage in a certain situation.

        Now if they would just add a boring new shot, let’s say, arcane shot2 you’d be 100% right. But fortunately they didn’t do that. In many cases you actually have to choose when to use an ability. E.g. barrage may be very good in movement heavy targets with many adds, but not in patchwork style.

        Now you are right that in some cases it is as simple as you state, but not in all fights or in all phases, and not perse. I am willing to give you though that in some talents Blizzard perhaps did not succeed optimally in making it a utility shot. All PvE hunters choosing glaive is an example.

        The 4th talent row is IMHO a much better worked out row.

        Also I do think that the balancing of shots would have occurred anyway thanks to our friends in PvP. The days of one shot being very powerful is gone, simply because a few cooldowns and a lucky crit could make a PvP fight end too soon. In fact the biggest issue in PvP right now, with pretty much all classes and specs, is in those situations where they did not balance enough. E.g. the stampede arena bug, but also the mages-one-shot issue.

      • Frostheim says:

        An extra button in our rotation does do more damage — otherwise we wouldn’t use it. Sure, there can also be utility abilities, but I’m talking about our raid priority rotation here. Whether it’s glaive toss or powershot or fervor, the only reason we hit it is because we do more damage with it than without. And any new ability to increase our damage output has to be balanced by a lowering elsewhere.

        We can still have hard-hitting pvp abilities, we just can’t a lot of them back to back (making burst too high). In point of fact, many classes have vastly harder hitting abilities.

      • Armin says:

        I think my point may not have come across. When you just add a ability, then yes, it is used or not. It us used when it is useful and for dps classes that mostly means when it gives more dps.

        However it does not need to mean other abilities will need to be sqeezed. In fact Blizzard cab easily also choose to do one of two other things:

        1) Lower the abilities you use anyway. E.g. steady/cobra shot. Or autoshot/WQ. Etc.

        2) make the abilities so, it is not a simple yes-no. In some fights or some phases you use it, but in other phases it will be a dps loss to use it. MoC is a good example. I don’t use it on adds that much. Using it would be a dps loss in many cases. The new Lynx rush is also such an ability.

        Now I give you that some of the new buttons are not truly utility, but plain dps gains. But that is more a fail on the design area.

        My other points are more this:

        - making the buttons a proc, doesn’t change anything. Let’s say you are right, and indeed buttons will lead to sqeeze, then the proc will still be the the same dps.

        - In the past we got ’2/3/4% more damage’ or 5/6/7% more crit, haste, etc talents. This also means the base damage will need to go down. Same as the change from 1.5 to 1 sec GCD. More shots, so less damage per shot.

        Reverse however that also means there is so much space in giving more buttons, and not sqeeze at all. More buttons acan be compensated also by higher cooldowns, higher focus cost, higher casttimes. Etc

        - I think the sqeeze is not the result of more buttons, but the result of PvP balancing. Already in cata they started moving fort all closes and all specs, the outliner damage abilities close to the middle.

        Even with two button hunters, you would have seen the top damage go down, simply because of that.

  5. bahzob says:

    I have to agree. I have 7 chars and hunters stand out as the ones with most buttons, shadow priest has the least.

    It gets even worse when you PVP. In addition to all the other buttons that come into play most need separate targeting, on focus or another party member.

    My preference though would rather than make hunters easier to increase other classes so all have roughly the same complexity to play.

  6. Omogon says:

    I have played since BC when the BM rotation was about as simple as could be….but right now I just don’t have the brain power to mash all the flipping buttons and keep track of all the cool downs and still switch targets and not stand in the fire….just can’t do it….and I’m not the only one. I know guys who are pretty fair hunters, some of which who have been playing longer than me, and they can’t do it either.

    My guild mates have asked why I can’t compete anymore with guys I could easily out dps before…our gear is similar level…..we are still the same folks overall. I think that the reason many hunters’ dps is bad ( like mine ) is all the freaking buttons.

    I’m starting to see trade chat that I have not seen for quite a while ” need dps for X raid , no hunters ”

    It’s going to make “huntards” out of otherwise competent hunters :(

  7. bahzob says:

    Just a suggestion to help if you are having issues with rotations.

    There is an addon called Ovale (+ an associated one called Nerian’s Ovale Scripts)

    This has scripts that will prompt with what buttons to press. It is setup to try to reproduce idealised DPS based on simulation craft (though I would not say it’s perfect for every spec).

    If you have a modicum of programming experience the script is very easy to modify so you can customise to your hearts content, e.g. including exception routines to be used for certain bosses (like saving burst cooldowns for a key phase).

    (It’s also useful if you have loads of different chars, it makes learning new specs very simple.).

    It may feel a bit like whack a mole and doesn’t substitute for skill but any skill takes a while to learn and it could help make this quicker.

    (Also relevant to this topic if you take a look at the scripts you can get a flavour of how difficult or otherwise the rotation for a class is. Some are pretty complicated with lots of if.. then logic (ferals are worst), some not so bad. This for example is the shadowpriest version (basically it is a question keeping 2 dots up apply other spells on cd, proc or stack count.)

    if ShadowOrbs() ==3 Spell(devouring_plague)

    if target.HealthPercent(less 20) Spell(shadow_word_death)

    if target.DebuffPresent(shadow_word_pain) and {TalentPoints(power_word_solace) and target.DebuffRemains(shadow_word_pain) <TickTime(shadow_word_pain)} Spell(shadow_word_insanity

    if {not target.DebuffPresent(shadow_word_pain) or target.DebuffRemains(shadow_word_pain) <TickTime(shadow_word_pain) } Spell(shadow_word_pain)

    if {not target.DebuffPresent(vampiric_touch) or target.DebuffRemains(vampiric_touch) <CastTime(vampiric_touch) +TickTime(vampiric_touch) } Spell(vampiric_touch)

    if SpellCooldown(mind_blast) Spell(mind_blast)

    if BuffPresent(surge_of_darkness) Spell(mind_spike)
    if TalentPoints(mindbender_talent) Spell(shadowfiend)
    Spell(halo_damage)
    Spell(mind_flay)

  8. Skinmob says:

    Does it ever occur to anyone that their spec, talents and rotation are the reason for low dps? I could really care less about what computer algorithms and simcraft shows. BM, glaive toss, dire beast and murder of crows are not optimal. They do less dps and mathematically don’t even add up if a person knows how to use their most powerful attacks as frequently as they can and don’t just accept simplified explanations of everything. In my experience survival always out dps’s bm and bm hunters are bellow me on the charts an overwhelming amount times. People should learn to raise their dps rather than assume everything on the Internet is the end all.

    • Jaromor says:

      Can we see logs from those fights where you outperform BMs with SV?

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t believe people assume ‘everything’ on the Internet is the end all, be all of information. With that being said, I can also say any hunter interested in trying to get the most out of the class (and the best dps we can produce) would look to the Internet for that help. We have no choice, as Blizzards default configuration promotes incorrect and frequently just bad play. Certainly, this site for years now has been my virtual ‘one stop shop’ for everything I need regarding the best hunter spec, rotation/priority, gear, pet, etc. The group primarily responsible for all the great information we have is very small (Frost, Zeherah, Kripparrian, and a few others) and to them, I owe most of the credit for helping me be the best I can. They take the information they provide very seriously and work exceedingly hard to make sure it is as accurate as possible.

      If you are out dpsing BM hunters, that is great and to your credit, but I’d say that it probably has a lot more to do with the fact that you play SV very well and they don’t play BM as well.

      • Skinmob says:

        Perhaps people don’t want to admit that bm simcraft numbers are misleading, and that with our talents (the too many buttons syndrome) we don’t have a static rotation. I unfortunately haven’t ran logs for awhile myself, but I will obviously start to continue this online debate. None the less I will say that the talents I see people promoting and the rotations people are posting don’t make sense mathematically. If you’re using an attack that does about 200% weapon damage every 15 seconds instead of the attack that does 600% every 30 seconds. Or a pet attack that does about 75-100k dmg over 30 seconds instead of 3 arcane shots that do about 130-150k dmg in 3 seconds….well, that’s just stupid.

      • Frostheim says:

        Mmmm, the math isn’t quite as simple as you’re implying. You have to take into account both the focus cost, and the GCD cost of each ability. An instant ability for 100k over 30 sec is almost always better raid dps than three GCDs spent on arcanes for 150k, for example.

  9. Kenmasturs says:

    Blizzard gave us all these buttons because they knew only hunters could handle it. I have found that using an addon like “Need to Know” really helps with managing your CD’s (especially tracking debuffs like serpent sting), which we all know can fall off in what seems like the blink of an eye. I personally am fine with all the buttons; although I have to admit that at times my hands hurt furiously trying to keep up with or surpass the mages, locks and shadow priests. This just seems to be the hunter way, overcoming adversity. I also like Frost’s mention of making MOC and DB being a passive proc ability, I was actually thinking the same thing myself. I was also thinking that a ability like glaive toss though it is satisfying, could also become proc based from your arcane shots or multishots.

    • Jaeger says:

      Ooh, I like the Glaive Toss proc off Arcane. Right now, I wish I could just macro them together. Cast GT if off CD, else Cast AS… Proc would give the same effect. I was testing out having Fervor/DB macro’d to CS but 5.1 broke that…

      Has anyone seen or done a class/spec rotation comparison? I suspect it could be derived from all the guides on noxxic, but it’d be cool to get a well presented comparison, like the DPS analysis Frost did recently.

  10. Masa says:

    [sorry a good number of my punctuation marks on my keyboard are broken]

    glaive toss power shot and barrage should have been made more of a situational tool than what im seeing now. hunters are trying way to hard to use them all of the time every time. as survival i’ve been out dpsing the hunters i know by ignoring those shots except for when they are needed. (barrage for aoe. glaive for kiting. and power shot for knockback pvp.) so that’s one less button to use.

    for some of the other spells… i don’t know if a good short term solution would be procs auto casting or just more macro friendly.

    • Ril says:

      glaive toss does slightly more damage with lower focus cost than arcane shot, period. that’s why we use it. it is often also a very good aoe tool.

      • Masa says:

        my gripe is this 90 tier just should have never been about dps vs utility. maybe i play with too many baddies but ignoring glaive has been nothing but good for me quality of life wise.

  11. Ril says:

    my observation on this is that pet management, focus management and that many buttons to mash is too much on top of the basic stuff like watching srs, using utility abilities (ie binding shot in emperor h, silences in wind lord h, dispels in four kings h) and following boss strats.

    imho leaving a bad status quo is as bad as changing too much, since we don’t even benefit from those additional buttons in the form of hign damage or high versatility. blizz really needs to change this quickly, but gently of course. i’m not asking for a total revamp. i’m asking for fewer buttons and more cleves (in case of BM). oh, and the reversal of the BW pet CC immunity nerf. last RBG was gruesome, i didn’t stand a chance.

  12. Nunya says:

    My experience is the same as Omogon. I was a decent hunter, able to do heroic content, rail normal mode and top charts in any pug i was in but now i cant seem to crack over 57k dps. I dont have the brain power either. Thats in the correct spec/gemming/chanting and all that. I researched and used the cookie cutter max dps setup but I just couldnt get what to do when while staying out of the fire, which I dont have any problems doing.

    Ive lost my raid spot over this, thankfully I enjoy rep grinding so theres something to do every day, but thats going to run out soon. 2/3 of the way to revered on dominance offensive then its back to only logging in to harvest crops. Did all the other reps. Raid finder isnt real raiding and is just something to check the box in to get some gear improvements and cap valor.

    Call me a baddie, i dont care, but i wish they would turn all four of those new abilities into procs. Wait, id probably prefer just static dps increase talents instead, since those procs will only increase my dps if I have the right combination of Rapid fire, haste buff, and standing on one foot during a full moon for them to work properly. Having them proc at any other time causes a 50% dps loss.

  13. Nunya says:

    Also, anyone think this problem was compounded by adding readiness to all specs? I mean its too awesome to want to give that back, but that was an extra button that really changed how BM and Surv played. In addition to that the shorter CD on rapid fire makes that come up more offten in the mole game.

  14. pichu says:

    I like having those many buttons. The only problem I see with it is the openings in raid envyroments. Needing to press at least 10 different buttons (not counting macroed stuff), most of them at least twice, but not in the same order, depending on spec, talents, etc can be a little overwhelming in many cases for long time hunters, and can be a brick wall for new players who try to be competitive but have no former experience as hunters. There are some ideas that could help to make it a little more “friendly”
    for BM: double the duration of BW, pushing it off readiness.
    For SV BM and MM: make readiness to reset the duration of all your effects on the target, like BA, SrS, MoC, LR. That changes would get us rid off several GCDs in the opening.

    I would prefer that better than turning some abilities to passive, personally I like to push GT every 15 sec, DB every 30, it does really add some spice that hunters needed for long time.

    • Ril says:

      you’re certainely right. the opening sequence is the moment where we’ve got most buttons to push (everything is off CD). screw up the opener and your dps is halved throughout the fight. the impact of the opening sequence is really huge.

  15. Gummybear says:

    I did get used to smashing all the buttons, but I feel like I’m failing sometimes at priorities. What worked for me was keybinding F1, F2… because they are very close to 1,2,3.. on the keyboard. I only keep Stampede to be clicked on because I don’t think it’s a big loss to do a click every 5 mins.
    I would prefer to see more of the fight that buttons because we hunters have a better view of it(no bigg boss ‘behind’ all over the screen)

  16. canardo says:

    Glad you made this post Frost, they might listen to you (the bulk of the hunter community has been complaining about too many buttons since the PTR but to no effect).

    I understand Blizzard wants to give us new stuff each expansion and they are scared to remove the old stuff but then you will allways end up with either useless or too many abilities.

  17. Otsego says:

    /slap forehead

    Omg Gc can’t make up his mind.

    I hate the mayo and I’m glad to see I might get what I ordered back.

  18. Guntitan says:

    I disagree. We don’t have too many buttons. If you are using something that is a 2 minute CD then don’t put it on your action bar. Click it instead. If you are having trouble look into getting a game pad like a Logitech G13. I love mine and use it with all my toons.

    Shift key works miracles with abilities too. Macros help a ton toon. As engineering hunter I have too many abilities but I macro them and click them.

    • Frostheim says:

      I’m not suggesting that we have too many button to physically press, or fit on a keyboard. I’m saying we have too many buttons because of the way it affects the mechanics of our shots (forcing the damage of them closer together), and makes our rotation more complex than the baseline for most classes.

  19. Flashback Gordon says:

    What would be the disadvantage of reducing the gcd again, this time to 1/2 a second?

  20. Marty says:

    I quite disagree with you in this, Frost. Yes, we have more buttons than back in Cata, rotation is more complicated, but it also gives us a great potential, because we have more control over our dps.

    Back in Dragon Soul we had good sustained dps in survival, in fact higher than many other classes. We ruled fights like Ultraxion. However we had practically no burst, so we lacked behind by a huge margin on every other fight than patcherk style. Warriors had like 3 times higher burst dps than us.

    Now we finally get some control over our dps, so I think it’s a big improvement!
    Second reason why so many buttons are a good thing is, that it makes us less focus-dependent and more cooldown-dependent. It ressembles me WotLK rotation, when we had mana and our only limitations were GCD and cooldowns on shots. Yes, I don’t like focus :)

    I should also point out, that despite we have more difficult rotation, we don’t loose ANY dps on moving! It’s a huge benefit over others! I guess difficult rotation is cost of great mobility.

    • pichu says:

      WotLK if anything was a completely fixed rotation for each every spec, and even with less “control” over our dps than cata. Not having a resource limit made hunters like a ranged ret pally.

      And btw hunters had quite good burst in cata, since the MM revamp in 4.1 and later with the SV buff in DS. in fact MM had the better burst in the game for a while, in late BoT/BWD/early FL, before they nerfed CA to 90%

      • Frostheim says:

        In terms of raid DPS, hunter burst was pretty awful in Cataclysm. MM had the best, and SV was nearly without burst at all. Keep in mind for burst dps to be useful in a raid it needs to be on-command.

    • Frostheim says:

      The control over our dps comes from Readiness and Stampede, mostly. That gives us our burst (and to a lesser extent AMoC). Things like Dire Beast, Glaive Toss, etc, don’t give us control of our dps — they just make it so we have to press more buttons to do the same dps we did before (and as a result they lower our other dps shots)

  21. Sarge says:

    Read through the article, and this ol’ war vet is confused on one issue I keep seeing pop up both in the WoW forums and other sites RE: balance. I don’t understand the need to balance the dps across the different dps classes. Using the 5-man dungeon as an example, since there is a real-world corollary (the fire team), it just doesn’t make sense. A fire team (generally) consists of two riflemen, one grenadier, and one heavy weapons guy. Two riflemen firing 5.56 from 30-rd magazines, can do “x” damage at “y” maximum effective range with a kill radius of 5.56mm. The grenadier can launch a 40mm round and do “xxx” damage out to 300m (if he’s good) with a kill radius of 25m. The heavy weapons guy firing 7.62mm (M60) can — literally — reach out and touch someone up to 1500m effectively with a kill radius of 7.62mm. The individual fire-team members are NOT balanced in the amount of damage each can do; but, their individual abilities and skills are what is needed for effective mission accomplishment.

    Hunters, mages, warlocks, and shadow priests should NOT be balanced in terms of dps. However, they each have unique abilities and skills that can be coalesced into a highly effective team, each complimenting the unique abilities and skills of the other team members. Maybe I’m just too “old school” but in all my years of real-world combat, I’ve never seen two riflemen do the same amount damage that one 40mm HE or flechette round can do at any distance comparable to what the heavy weapons guy can do. I’ve also never seen a grenadier do any damage whatsoever at any distance greater than 300m. So the whole concept of “balance” among the dps classes is completely foreign to me.

    Help an ol’ vet out, will ya? Show me the rationale. To my way of thinking, hunters should have abilities that mages, warlocks and shadow priests don’t have; mages should have abilities that hunters, warlocks, and shadow priests don’t have; warlocks should have abilities that hunters, mages, and shadow priests don’t have, and shadow priests should have abilities that hunters, mages, and shadow priests don’t have. Those differences would be the basis for choosing one class over another. Merlin didn’t replace Sir Lancelot, and neither replaced the archer.

  22. Semris says:

    I said so before the MoP went life, I even believe on these very forums… Too many skills to use, too many buttons.

    Yep, we all mastered new rotations but what about next exp or the one after? They need to start removing skills and quite some of them…..

  23. Triqshot says:

    Throughout Cataclysm I was exclusively raiding heroic content from day 1. Survival during the first tier, Marks during Firelands, and back to Survival for DS tier. I was always in the top 4 for almost every entire encounter throughout the entire expansion of my 25 man Heroic raiding guild. Now though I simply can not play hunters as they have too many bloody buttons. During Firelands I remember it was fairly easy, and I had my opening rotation for Baleroc almost muscle-memoried. It involved a lot of cooldown weaving, timing it with bloodlust, etc. To ensure that you were hasted for enough of the fight to use aimed shot. In unhasted situations I was able to fit 5 casts in between every Chimera shot. It was not a difficult spec in terms of # of buttons but in terms of managing cooldowns, keeping up the Improved Steady Shot, etc. Is where it got tough. Now there are just a ridiculous amount of tedious, meaningless buttons. We have less micro managing and complex weaving of mechanics, and more of just wack-a-mole press the optimal button NOW gameplay.