Many of you will recall I wrote a Scattered Shots article a while back suggesting that hunters have too many buttons. They key here is that the issue isn’t just with having enough spare brainspan to hit all of our buttons, but that the more damage increasing buttons we have, the less numerical difference there is between them, and we’re starting to occasionally bump into design issues as a result.

I suggested in the article that we’ll probably have to wait for the next expansion before the issue is really addressed, but that it’s possible in the meantime to alleviate some of the issue by turning some of our abilities (like, say, Dire Beast) into procs.

Well, someone got a response from Ghostcrawler on this very issue a while back. This is something that we talked about on the Hunting Party Podcast at the time, but I realized I never mentioned here on the site (this is often an issue with the podcast: if I blogged about it on the site on Monday or Tuesday, by the time the podcast rolls around I think we talked about it on the previous week’s podcast. Similarly some stuff we talk about on the podcast I think I must have already mentioned on the site).

In short, Ghostcrawler said: yup, hunters have too many buttons but nope, now’s not the time for us to meddle with their rotation:

We’re not sure 5.2 is the right time to convert any of the active buttons to passive procs. While we would like to slim down the number of buttons hunters need to manage overall, changes like this are controversial and I’m sure it would feel like a nerf (even a nerf to fun) to many hunters.

Now, it’s easy to take issue with it feeling like a nerf if it’s converted into a proc. After all, most of the time we have an ability become baseline or turn automated, we all agree it’s a buff. I think the issue here is that most of these abilities currently consume a global cooldown, so to move the ability to a proc it would have to be slightly weakened to account for the fact that we can now cast an extra Cobra Shot or Arcane Shot in that slot of our rotation.

Sure, it isn’t a nerf in any way that matters, but to a lot of hunters it will feel like a nerf, because they won’t see the big picture; they’ll just see that Dire Beast all on its own is weaker than it was before. And ultimately those feelings matter a lot more than facts in how players respond to changes.

Personally, I still wish they’d go for it. Just doing it one or two abilities, dip your toes in the water, see what the response is like. As long as they are careful to ensure that there’s no reduction in overall dps (which really means ensuring that simcraft and femaledwarf will model it that way) then all of the leading hunter voices on the blogs and EJ will do the job of assuring the great hunter community that this is a good change.

I know I sure would!


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  1. Eillarius says:

    Don’t have time to listen to the podcast so I appreciate the post.

    And I agree 100%. Too many buttons and experimenting with one or two abilities in 5.2 wouldn’t be a big deal.

    Not like they haven’t done as much before.

  2. Arth says:

    In the podcast, we talked about two abilities that are likely targets for this: Dire Beast and Focus Fire. I would agree wholeheartedly with making both procs instead of GCD buttons, even with the tweaking that would need to occur to keep dps the same.

    Even Fervor could get this treatment. It would need changed slightly, but it’s doable. Something like “Fervor will trigger whenever you drop below {x} focus, and can only occur once per {x} seconds.” Trinkets like this exist all the time (particularly for tanks, who have health-dependent procs) so the code exists for it.

  3. Omogon says:

    yup…I’d be all for it….I am starting to hate all the buttons.

  4. Tatianah says:

    I for one agree that we have way too many buttons. For instance, BM’s opener is so long that you need macros (or really good muscle memory) to execute it properly and get max use/uptime out of your skills.

    They already went and streamlined warlocks at the start of MoP and are in the process of tearing down and rebuilding Windwalker monks, a few tweaks to hunters shouldn’t be too difficult.

  5. Fed says:

    Another one that could easily become a proc is Glaive Toss. I am all for turning three or four of the cooldown based shots into a proc. To do this would enable us to have more time and buttons to provide more utility to a raid, Like intimidation, silencing shot, etc.

    At this point i don’t usually have time to do things like trap during a fight cause it takes too long to hit 8-10 buttons during a fight. If it weren’t for efficient use of macros. I would probably stand in crap all the time, because i would be too distracted. Please Blizzard Please Help us Hunters out with a little more efficient shot priority.

    • Shadda says:

      Why not offer a glyph that makes glaives a proc instead? That way you could still be guaranteed to have it on add phases and pvpers who rely on it for its slow would still be able to use it when they chose to.

    • Frostheim says:

      Mmmm, Glaive Toss probably isn’t a great target for a proc, since it does AoE(ish) damage. Sometimes you don’t want to break CC : )

  6. Shadda says:

    I’ve gotten used to the buttons in BM, but this probably would be helpful for someone playing a spec with a more involved rotation. In my SV spec, for instance,I’m often too busy dealing with procs to bother with Dire Beast. I wouldn’t necessarily make focus fire a process though. It can be convenient to pop it with bestial wrath for increased burst ability.

  7. Shezas says:

    Seriously???….oh jeez, it seems we complain about everything.
    We are going to run the risk of WOW becoming very one dimensional.
    I do agree there are too many buttons, however that’s part of the challenge.
    I’m never going to be a top raider..I don’t want to be, I just want to challenge myself.
    I’m one of those boring guys who love Quests, trash, professions, I use to love making arrows!!.
    WOW was immersive, there was something for everyone…now we’re at risk of dumbing it down.
    Yeah, sorry, I’ll get off my soap box!
    This site rocks.

    • Frostheim says:

      I think we’re pretty safely away from dumbing down territory. We could remove several buttons from the hunter rotation and still have a far more complicated hunter rotation than any other expansion in the history of WoW.

  8. Aerothena says:

    I believe we have the “right” number of buttons right now. Sure you can make the analogy of us to other classes and say we have too many, however I say we have the right number because I like the skill gap between good hunters and bad hunters at the moment. Which I would argue is higher than its ever been before. Long gone are the days of huntards with scroll wheel macro for your rotation.

    The real problem of too many buttons I feel is in PvP when we have like 4 dps cool downs with GCDs and we can’t even really drop focus while doing those abilities. I admit I am by no means a great pvp hunter but I feel the real problem is we have too many dps abilities with GCDs specifically within pvp. THIS DOESN’T MEAN THE ANSWER IS TO then remove GCD’s and have every hunter macro abilities because that’s not fun either. To me the answer is remove GCD’s on silly abilities like Rapid Fire, and make DPS abilities not stack beneficially. Such as Bestial Wrath and Rapid Fire contradicting your desired rotation with both up, thus using them separately is desired. I would like to see more of that.

    Realistically I don’t feel this is likely to happen just because this would take too much effort in class design on blizzard’s end and its easier to just please masses and make skillful things passive to ease the gap between the best hunters and worst.

    • Arth says:

      It’s interesting that you see the skill gap as higher than ever between good and bad. I see it as smaller than ever.

      Complex rotations mean it’s harder to keep them up, but more buttons means that any one ability isn’t as powerful as if we had the same dps with half the buttons. So, for example, the penalty for delaying Kill Command (or other signature shot) is less than it’s ever been. When we only had a few abilities, the relative cost of delaying a signature shot even a few tenths of a second is now the relative equivalent to missing an entire GCD or more. And the difference between many mid-tier abilities (Arcane, Glaive, Dire Beast) is almost negligible in a practical sense, making exactitude in rotations not as important.

      What’s more, casting while moving paired with more instant shots than ever means that “dancing” is a thing of the past. Where the skilled hunters of yesteryear would weave shots between movement (and prior to that, AUTO-SHOT between movement as well), any inefficient or jittery hunter can maintain the same dps. And after shot-weaving came aspect dancing, which is also gone now. This was an INSANE dps boost for skilled hunters over average hunters, with entire tutorials on movement for individual boss fights in order to maximize dps.

      If you want to compare it only to the BC macro-rotation, ok, sure, conceded. But the skill needed to be very good was undoubtedly greater in Wrath, and to a lesser extent Cata as well. Perhaps the initial learning curve is higher due to more buttons, but gap between below average, average, competent, good, very good, and great hunters has narrowed thanks to these changes.

      I think the underlying point is, what’s the point of pressing Dire Beast, when every other ability in the same tier is a proc (or not on the GCD)? What’s the point of pressing Focus Fire when the idiot lights around it light up? There’s no choice, no skill, it’s just “hit this now” and then we do. It’s complexity just for the sake of it, not because it adds meaningfully to our dps experience or feel of the class.

      • Frostheim says:

        I agree with arth to a huge extent here. I feel the skill gap was much larger in Wrath, when we worried about movement more, when we did things like roll serpent stings on multiple targets and — the biggie — when screwing up hurt us more.

        Here’s a big example: I’ve had multiple hunters email me and suggest their brilliant rotation of just spamming arcane shot. They use cobra when their focus is low (which keeps up serepent sting) and they use arcane the rest. This is clearly suboptimal, but their dps doesn’t suck like you’d think it should compared to people who use 5 more buttons — because arcane shot just isn’t that much worse than, say, Explosive Shot. The crowding of abilities forces everything to be closer to the same, which reduces the skill gap because the price of doing it wrong is much lower.

    • Arth says:

      Also, I don’t think Rapid Fire is on the GCD. It can stack as needed anywhere you like.

      Cooldown stacking isn’t likely to ever go away though, because to change it would be to change the way stats work in the game. If something grants us haste, or agility, or crit, by its very nature it HAS to stack beneficially with some other procs or abilities.

      Removing the number of cooldowns would make this less of a strategic issue. But removing their stacking benefits is next to impossible.

  9. Venadin says:

    Well I do wish they would give us eyes of the beast back. But dire beast and focus fire are two buttons I find myself screwing up the most and would be happy to get rid of. Another one is widow venom by baking it into serpent sting or one of our shots like it was before with aimed shot. Not being a fan of survival type specs, I would want to make sure we still have one spec based on CD management. They could give us a bunch of combo finishers like Guild Wars 2 instead that work off our traps.

  10. csiems says:

    As a mostly-PVP’er, RNG is the worst. Nothing is worse than a random 10-sec agility proc just as I kill one person on the battleground, when I then have to run for 7 seconds to reach the next guy.

    I think that tiers like 15 and 45 are just about perfect. They either modify or replace an existing ability–making it more powerful or more useful.

    • csiems says:

      At the risk of being hung on the internet, I thought I’d give a concrete example of what I’d like to see:

      Tier 75
      Scorpid Sting – Serpent Sting does x% more damage over 15 secs.
      Serpent Slow – Serpent sting does no damage, but slows target over 15 sec and prevents stealth.
      Serpent Spread – Targets hit by your Multi-Shot are also afflicted by your Serpent Sting.

      I think most PVE’ers would take the first or third option for the increased damage (the increase would have to be comparable to what Murder of Crows does now) or the improved AOE. Most PVP’ers would take the first or second option depending on if they wanted increased damage, or increased utility.

      No extra buttons would be needed, hunter damage is increased by the same amount, and there is no burst issue that brought on the Lynx Rush nerf. The only drawback is that it may feel like a nerf to Survival Hunters who have gotten used to Serpent Spread as one of their core mechanics. But then again, the Marksman spec had this happen when Silencing Shot became a universal option.

  11. Kheldul says:


    AGREE: We have far too many buttons. We do the same basic damage as other classes but when you slice it into pie pieces, we have two to four times as many slices as other classes. The pie is basically the same.

    AGREE: I never EVER used to mouse click for any of my damage abilities. Now, I’ve added in three additional keybinds and even keybound my middle mouse button. And I STILL do mouse clicking and hate it. And I’m pretty good at it. I just know it’s slowing me down in other ways.

    MILD DISAGREE: Making Dire Beast a proc is a fine thing. The spawn behaves reasonably well. It is suitable to hunters. –BUT– it is not a outright gain to be a proc (where internal CD is it’s chance). Sure no GCD is a benefit. No question. But it wont get used optimally. And you’ll never have two out thanks to Readiness.

    DISAGREE: Focus Fire should not just be a free click once it gets to 5 stacks. This would be a DPS loss for me. Situationally, I hit that sucker at 3 or 4 quite often. Especially when multi-shotting and starving for focus. Keeping close tabs on Frenzy and Focus Fire instead of only hitting it when you’re at 5 stacks is a boon. It’s much better to have it up almost all the time in a focus-intensive AoE fight than have it up every so often when it manages to get there. THAT SAID I AGREE — It needs a redesign. It is clunky, complex, and another PITA button. ;-)

  12. Med says:

    Why have it proc at all?….take a couple of abilities off of the GCD so they can be used in a macro! (see rapid fire) This way you can still have total control over said ability if you want or have it paired with a signature shot to make sure it is used.

    • bahzob says:

      Spot on, a good halfway house would be just take some of the abilities off GCD so that they can be macro’ed by those who want without affecting those who want to retain control.

  13. Armin says:

    Well more buttons does not mean that the dps difference needs to be lower. As explained before, you can also:

    – increase GCD. So reverse, the GCD reduction from 1.5 to 1 second actually hurt us more than more buttons.
    – increase cooldown of abilities itself. It is irrelevant if we have two abilities we can spam every 2 seconds or ten abilities we can only spam every 10 seconds. In both cases we have 1 per second.
    – abilities don’t need to be ‘do damage’ abilities. And ‘do damage’ abilities don’t need to be ‘do damage always in all situations’. E.g. add more AOE options may not affect single target.
    – increase focus cost of abilities so you will spam less of the powerfull ones.
    – add restrictions like the MM’s steady focus. Blizzard relaxed it to boost MM, but they can also easily take it away, so spamming high damage abilities too often will hurt uptime. Blizzard can add lots of these options.

    The main point however is, that damage reduction is going to happen due to PvP, regardless of the amount of buttons we have. Blizzard may very clear they don’t want one-or dual-shot PvE abilities and will nerf any ability that is too strong for PvP.

    Personally I love the amount of buttons. Also those who played druids pre-MoP, know our abilities were not even that unprecedented high. As GC explained, the main issue to him is that many of our options are rotational, not so much that we have too many in general.

    But as explained, even keeping them rotational, won’t mean our dps per ability must go down. PvP balancing will do that anyway though.

  14. Dezibel says:

    noooo, i like all my buttons!
    It’s like conducting a symphony of carnage!

  15. bahzob says:

    Just a one suggestion that may help in the short (probably long) term.

    The Ovale + Nerien addons can be very helpful in getting used to and executing rotations. They use simulcraft to suggest the ideal rotation, so basically tell you what button to hit when. Behind them is a scripting language that is very powerful but also easy to customise to your own preferences should you wish.

  16. Nogz says:

    I actually like having many buttons in my (BM) rotation. It keeps me challenged and seeing how I’m at 10-15% higher DPS than the other Hunter in my raid group, it’s rewarding.

    However, I dislike having so many situational buttons. You have to keep them bound but you either rarely use them (PvE) or have trouble to use them (PvP). Merging some would help (SS and Widow Venom was suggested several times, snake and ice traps, flare and explosive trap, scatter shot and lvl 30 talents, multi-shot and lvl 90 talents, camouflage and feign death, etc).

    I know this path wouldn’t be popular but, honestly, hunters have a bit too much utility compared to other (pure dps) classes.

  17. quivering says:

    I agree with the too many buttons. I am a bit concerned about Dire Beast. The beast it summons is its own entity, with health and aggro. If they do make it a proc, I hope they remove its ability to aggro. I have used Dire Beast strategically because of this fact. Hmm.

  18. lordmogg says:

    I’m on the fence with this. I’m not bothered by all the buttons and quite enjoy the utility it can give me sometimes. Many a time ive been stuck having pulled way too many mobs. Stampede is on cool down. My pet is dead. POW!!! Dire beast, snake trap. Feign death. Revive pet. Im saved!!

    If this was a proc this wouldn’t be possible. Sure this is but one example but it is the most dazzling and handsome.

    But saying that, when im in a raid and im mashing away looking at whats coming off next etc i sometimes do feel like im trying to finish off a 12,000 word essay that ive only just started, having left completing it until five mins before hand in because i wanted to go to the beach and have ice cream.

    Only advice i have for those that do find all the buttons hard is to employ some macros. They can help loads.

  19. Osmin says:

    It’s kind of tough thing making any of these abilities procs because there are a lot of times where it’s just better to use them than other times, and I don’t particularly want them at the mercy of RNG.

    Dire beast just before a BW to keep your focus from running out during those 16 seconds. Fervor to make the AMoC focus cost trivial or get that burst just when you need it. Maybe I don’t want Focus Fire to take my pet’s stacks away just now, etc.

    Honestly I think most of the problems overcomplicating the hunter rotation stem from Readiness. I’d be all for making our cooldowns more powerful to compensate, and just having readiness reset only defensive abilities like deterrence and disengage. This would make our convoluted openers/burst phases a lot easier to deal with, and not 12 button combos that take all of our concentration not to muck up.

    • Ril says:

      all you’ve listed is correct. however, and that is the problem, we don’t get enough in return for a perfectly played complicated rotation. this is, in my understanding, the main problem. we can work our asses off and end up somewhere in the middle of the pack, while other classes mash 3 buttons to get on top.

  20. Led says:

    I also think there are too many buttons but…

    As someone else mentioned it is what makes the hunter class so interesting.
    Rather than removeing options, make all the classes have a few too many buttons to press.

    If there is no obvious right way to play a class it leaves it more open to individual style.

    • Sinjade says:

      Yeah there are too many buttons, but in all honesty those buttons have made playing a hunter more engaging than ever.

  21. GTyoungblood (a.k.a. GT) !7;^) says:

    I like this, a lot of good arguments going both ways. When I started reading this my first thought was taking a certain abilities off the global CD as to allow them to be macro’d. I thought I’d get crucified for suggesting it. But it looks as if others do agree.

    I have separate task bars for PvP and PvE. I have a macro that swaps my gear, task bars, and throws up a dialog box that lets me know I hit it. I have the separate task bars because some of my abilities and trinkets are macro’d together. Pve and PvP having separate macros that don’t work the same.

    It would be nice to have Dire Beast off GCD to be able to use it in a mouse-over macro. But then there is the argument that it will just be macro’d into every shot to catch it on every CD and never miss it.

    I for one dislike the proc. I hate the way Blizzard has implemented RNG. First, it will have an internal CD thats prob very close to its actual CD. Then once it proc’d it wont even look at RNG again until after that internal CD is up. Look at Frenzy, how often does it just drop off without even getting close to 5 stacks? Its supposed to be a 40% chance, per basic attack. I turned off all my pets attacks and just let basic attack run for 20 minutes on a target dummy. I don’t remember my actual numbers off the top of my head, but the actual number of procs wasn’t even close to 40%. It was lower than 10%. It didn’t seem to have much if any internal CD though as at times, it would proc 2 or 3 times within a few seconds.

    I’d just like to see Blizzard really work on the RNG. Get that working so it really is random.

    For you Geeks out there, you can get your geek on here…

    Its a transcript of the Security Now podcast. Episode 299 (very close to the end) and Episode 301 cover RNG. Yes, they are talking RNG for encryption purposes, but the RNG process still applies. Computers can not do genuinely random numbers. Its not possible without outside info (I love Suns solution).

  22. Kenmasturs says:

    I agree with what alot of people have been saying. A while ago I made a post advocating the move to make Dire Beast proc based off either Arcane shots or Glaive toss. However; making Focus Fire proc based could cause problems, namely it would affect our “on demand” or selective burst. Now I know in most situations focus fire should and will be used off cd, but there are those times in fights when you want to save it for even a second longer so you can burst something down (this goes for pvp as well, you have to consider how these changes would affect the infamous BM burst). This is why I would argue to keep Focus Fire the way it is…

  23. Shin says:

    What isn’t helping in the hectic button frenzy is that both valor trinkets have an on use as well. 2 more buttons to take into account….ugh.
    I now mouseclick the cooldowns, it’s the only way I actually still notice which button does what.

  24. Sinjade says:

    If we were beating all other classes by 10K, I wonder if we would be complaining as much? Hmmmm………..

  25. Jackbower says:

    Is it okay to use Murder of Crows after using Readiness if MoCs is still ticking on the enemy? I usually wait for the tick to fall off and then immediately cast MoCs again, because I don’t want to miss out on DPS by clipping the tick. Reason I ask is, well, obviously I don’t know the answer – and I’ve found that if I hit Dire Beast, use Readiness, and hit DB again, 2 DBs will attack my target instead of 1. I’m assuming that since there are 2 DBs attacking my target, I’m not clipping Dire Beast (even though I don’t think there is an actual “tick” debuff shown on the target). I’m just wondering if the same is true for MoCs. I’m also unsure about Lynx Rush and whether or not it is possible to clip its ticks. I’m sorry if this comment is unrelated to the number of buttons we hunters use, but it reminded me of this question that I can’t seem to find an answer to.

    • Frostheim says:

      No. If you use aMoC while the first is still going, you will overwrite it. The first will immediately end and the second takes effect — so you are basically clipping, and there’s a lot of aMoC to clip!

  26. says:

    You know I was playing around while running our guild senario’s. first I ran and did all my rotations, and then we got the same senario again. So I just used SS, DB, with cobra to keep SS up. And just spam arcane shot. And I did 2% less damage on the bosses. I have to say something is wrong with that. If using 4 shots can put that much out, then get rid of the rest or make our shots worth something to use.

    Only thing is if they do make some shots passive, or proc; will they nurf us to balance it out in there eyes.

    • Frostheim says:

      Keep in mind that Blizzard has a firm goal of balancing the dps of all classes. So they want our best spec to be capable of the same dps as the best spec of any other class (obviously boss fight mechanics are going to make perfect balance impossible).

      Thus our overall comparative dps is going to be the same no matter how many buttons we push.

  27. Ril says:

    personally i hope for a fully passive 60 tier and a tweak to gleve toss: it ought to be turned into a true cleave without gcd, replacing arcane shot in multi taget fights, but not in single target. aaand it should have a improved path to hit more targets left and right of the main target.

  28. Balzaque says:

    I was probably one with the most fear out of this many buttons when this exp started, i can only use my left hand to play my hunter and i already felt like i couldnt have any more cds at the end of cataclysm and couldnt understand where i would find new keys to add 3 to 4 new abilities on my rotation.

    To be honest right now it feels really well playing both my BM and SV hunter that it would feel strange to have less keys again xD though i do agree that a change like that would be for the best..

  29. starzein says:

    oh god please NO, there are alot of buttons sure but its a game its not hard because its complex its just harder to maximise dps with more variations to the rotation but thats the idea its a game.For the first time in ages we have discussion about rotations and not a must do that we all follow and you call for a simpler system.
    We could all just push one button let the whole thing be automated nobody would need to learn at all no experimentation and WHU could go back to telling us all what we have to do how we have to spec (you guys still do this with frost’s idea there are must have talents still despite the top 100 hunters proving theres more than one good way to spec and hit top dps )
    We dont need the game to be less interesting we dont all need to do the same thing spec the same way use the same rotation, the game is simple enough without more idiot proofing so we all do identical dps. Its not broken we dont need to fix it.

  30. Bristal says:

    I huntered religiously for 4 years before Pandaria. My 2 hunters are still 85 while I play a shaman and a monk.

    They broke the class for me. Too many buttons and too many pets to worry about.

    Has there been any reduction in hunters played?

  31. nunya says:

    I for one, am disappointed in no reduction in the number of buttons. Dont forget about readiness being baselined also adds to the complexity of two specs that didnt normally have them last expansion.

    Ive fallen below the competency level this expansion. My new guild wont let me raid with them because my dps is so low. I never had a probem in wrath or cata with being above average in dps in surv or marks, but I just dont have the skill necessary to keep up with the demanding rotation needed to get progression level DPS. Similarly I couldnt play a warlock well last expansion. I havent gotten to seriously raid for the first time since late BC, and if it werrent for raid finder I would have quit already. Ive always gemmed, chanted, and reforged according to the experts, and played top DPS spec to great results until now.

    Im hoping the “arcane shot your way to victory” method I read about in this thread can get me out of the 68k dps slump im in. I have full RF tier gear, and as many 489 or better gear I could get my hands on, and the epic heroic dungeon bow. My overall ilevel is 489 and I play surv.