Shout out to the WHUvians who pointed this out to me; I had lost these changes in the 5.4 notes (which are coming steadily now…more on them tomorrow or Monday).
Here are the official hotfixes that came through on June 10:
- Arcane Shot now deals 10% more damage.
- Cobra Shot and Steady Shots now deal 10% more damage.
- Hunter Pets summoned by Stampede now only use auto-attacks against their target.
- Blink Strikes now has a 10-yard minimum range, and the teleportation effect cannot happen more than once every 20 seconds.
Here’s the explanation from Blizzard:
Patch 5.3 resulted in Hunters feeling a bit stronger in PvP than in 5.2, where we feel they were in a much better place overall. Stampede in particular has been proving troublesome. We originally designed it with an “empty your stables” theme primarily for flavor–we wanted you to be able to see all of your favorite pets. In practice, it turned into more of a “deck building” mini-game, where Hunters were managing their entire stable to bring as much crowd control, raid buffs, etc. as possible. That’s opposite of our intentions with the Mists stable redesign; we want you to be able to pull out whichever pet you feel is ideal for your current situation. If you’re instead filling your stable based on whatever’s ideal for Stampede, you lose that entirely.
Furthermore, this min-maxing led to Stampede being a bit stronger of a DPS cooldown than we’d really like, especially for Beast Masters (who are already quite bursty in PvP). The hotfix lets us tone Stampede back just a little, and once again allows Hunters to keep whichever pets they like in the stable.
With Blink Strikes, our goals with the original 5.3 changes were to reduce Hunter burst for PvP as well as give them a passive talent option. Generally speaking, we prefer active talents to be slightly superior to passive talents in the same tier. No one will choose an active talent if it requires more work for the same reward. So, we wanted Blink Strikes to be DPS-neutral. Instead, it ended up being a PvP buff, hence the hotfix.
Regarding the changes to Arcane Shot, Cobra Shot, and Steady Shot, we had originally only buffed Arcane shot, but there was some risk that it would change Hunter rotations, which wasn’t our intent. We simply wanted to compensate for the Stampede and Blink Strikes changes. Ultimately, our goal with all of these changes is simply to tone back some of the outlying behaviors that were causing Hunters to feel a little too strong in PvP in 5.3, without much impact elsewhere.
Ok, so let’s break this down:
- In terms of overall dps, the word that I’m hearing is that this actually increases sustained hunter dps. At worst, it’s dps neutral. PvE hunters, breath a sigh of relief.
- The downside is two-fold. One, it’s a nerf to PvP because the abilities nerfed (Blink Strikes and Stampede) contributed significantly to hunter burst. They still will, but not as much. Now, we have the statement from Blizzard that hunter PvP was a touch too good, and that BM was (and potentially still is) too “bursty.” I’m willing to take them at their word and hope this balances PvP a bit more, but that won’t soften the blow for many PvP hunters.
- The other downside, and to me the bigger long-term one, is that Stampede pets no longer have as much “flavor.” By that, I mean they aren’t casting their buffs. So there’s less buff customization for soloing, Brawler’s Guild, or situations where your raid is missing 2-3 buffs and you want to bring them all for a brief period of time. The other changes are balance related…balance comes and goes with each new patch. But this is a big decision that changes how we’ve used Stampede. And it removes some nuance from the class, which makes me sad.
Near the launch of 5.2 I wrote an article on spec viability in both PvE and PvP. General consensus was that we were middle of the pack in PvE and possibly a bit low. Since then we’ve received nothing but incremental buffs, so I have no reason to believe we’ve dropped. In PvP, we were weak overall but incredibly strong as BM in specific comps. Like, possibly TOO good compared to other classes and their representation at the highest levels. So from what we saw there, some burst nerfs aren’t a surprise, which has been the trend recently. In a competitive environment like PvP, I know it’s a tough pill to swallow to think we might have needed some burst nerfs, but it seems Blizzard thought we did. But it’s a still a shame, since it’s been a long time since huntesr had a spec near the top of PvP comps.
To me, the loss of customization in Stampede is the change that will outlast this patch, since the next hotfix or patch will alter balance once again. I LOVED the nifty stuff you could do with varied Stampede pets, it made the ability more than simply “press the big red button for teh l33t dps!” And now it’s gone. It’s hard to be too upset when the past months have seen us acquire 50 stable slots, no minimum range, more viability in PvP than past expansions, etc. But there’s still some sadness.