Hunter Community Expansion Revamp Project
Purpose & Method
To make reasonable suggestions for the revamp of Hunter Specs in a way that is aligned with Blizzard’s design philosophy, with the eventual intent of spreading this article among the community and game developers.
This article may include my own ideas, but they are not just my ideas, and are pulled from various members of the community that I have spoken to through this site or on the Hunting Party Podcast.
Lowest Common Denominator (LCD)
The LCD is, hopefully, the “bottom line” that we can all agree on. The details and specifics will differ, as will our opinions on them, but if we can agree on the general premise, it helps us move forward.
Spec Differentiation LCD: While opinions differ on what roles each spec should fulfill, the hunter class will be improved when each of its three specs fills a unique and valuable role, and when the play style for each spec differentiates it from the others.
We don’t expect Blizzard to implement all or most of this. But we do hope they consider these ideas and incorporate those that make sense within their design philosophy.
Nobody agrees on what the specs should do. More than any topic, this is the one with the most varied opinions. How to solve that problem? Provide options and templates for Blizzard to consider and choose from, rather than saying “here is the one way we want it”
Pros: It removes the need for a catch-all dps spec that is harder to balance, and lets Blizzard focus on balancing for multi-target fights. This wouldn’t preclude decent single target dps, but it wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Limited use.
Single Target DPS
Pros: Removes the fuss over which spec to bring on the Patchwerk-style fights. This wouldn’t preclude AoE dps, but it wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Will remove some overall dps utility that we enjoy now in all of our dps specs.
Pros: Removes complaints of PvP changes affecting PvP balance, and vice versa. Allows a dedicated PvP spec to maximize that aspect of the game for hunters. This wouldn’t preclude PvE use, but wouldn’t be optimized for it.
Cons: Way more people play PvE than PvP. This effectively cuts them off from 1/3 of our specs.
Melee DPS (or Melee PvP) Spec
Pros: Vastly changes the feel of the spec/class, in a way that could reinvigorate hunters. An emphasis on other elements of hunting other than simply shooting a gun or bow.
Cons: Backlash from those who play hunters to be the premiere ranged dps class of the game. Fundamental design change to the class.
Pet Tanking Spec (or Tanking/DPS hybrid)
Pros: Wouldn’t necessarily have to be at the expense of dps, if baked into the spec properly. For example, a BM ability to become our pet (or ride them, merge with them, etc.) could give us an either/or option, much like Druids’ Feral spec can be dps or tank.
Cons: If we’re made a true tanking class, it would almost definitely have to be at the expense of dps. Since BM is the likeliest candidate for this, backlash from BM hunters would be intense, despite the increased utility.
Catch-All DPS Spec (AoE and single target)
Pros: This is essentially what we have now. Blizzard wants all specs to be ok at everything. And they are. If we ever get a spec that isn’t pure dps – say, tanking or PvP – one of our other specs will likely need to stay catch-all.
Cons: Might not feel unique; same issues as current specs.
Pros: Can give players leveling perks to make things smoother. Removes the need to make the leveling spec raid-viable.
Cons: Limited use after you hit endgame.
Accentuate the Current Strengths
Pros: In this template, our specs would stay roughly the same, but their particular strengths would be enhanced. BM? Bigger pet damage. MM? Physical damage and emphasis on hunter shots. SV? Nature damage and DoTs or AoE. In this way, we can stay roughly the same with no major changes, but can make each spec seem more unique.Cons: No major changes, which won’t please everyone.
The Myth of “Pure”
Despite the slight tendency to believe that “pure” dps classes should be tops, this has almost never been the case in practice. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, but we won’t suddenly stop seeing good numbers if we inherit a non-PvE-dps spec.
Further, as a pure class with three dps specs, when have we wanted to bring all three to a raid or PvP? The answer is never. At best, we’ve had two that serve every purpose we might need. Right now, for example, it’s BM and SV.
I say that to say this: We should want a 3rd spec that does something other than dps. I don’t want a worthless spec, knowing that another spec could do it better, regardless of the task. And at most points in the game, we’ve had a worthless spec.
Specs: Single Target DPS + AoE DPS + Catch-all DPS
Reason: Say Blizzard wants to keep us entirely ranged dps. Ok, fine. But this will give us a spec for any occasion. Single target fight? Multi-target? Or Mixed? Each will serve a purpose if Blizzard stops trying to make every spec good for everything.
This has multiple options, because it’s where two specs remain dps. Maybe it’s Aoe + Single Target + PvP. Maybe it’s Catch-all + another Catch-all + Tanking. The point is the same, though the permutations vary.
Specs: Tanking Spec (or Tanking/DPS hybrid) + Catch-all DPS + PvP Spec (or melee PvP)
Reason: While definitely the least likely, this will give us crazy utility and make every spec feel very unique.
All Ranged w/PvP
Specs: DPS (any variation) + DPS (any variation) + Ranged PvP
Reason: This is the compromise solution to me. Because Blizzard may not want to give us a full tanking spec, and may want to keep us entirely ranged. This is all ranged, all dps, but gives us a dedicated PvP spec, so that the other two can be balanced for PvE only.
Spec Differentiation and Button Bloat
One of the reasons the specs all feel same-ish right now is because we’re casting many of the same shots. While there are varying solutions to this, one possible solution is to emphasize different abilities.
What follows is an example, written by longtime WHU member (and WHUBBQ attendee) Flint. I don’t want you to focus on the abilities per se, but how all of them combined would create an entirely different feel for the class.
A Melee heavy Hunter with traps; less emphasis on pet DPS.
- Raptor Strike: Strikes at an enemy, inflicting increased melee damage.
- Wing Clip: Inflicts damage and reduces the enemy target’s movement speed by 60% for 10 sec.
- Mongoose Bite: Inflicts damage
- Savage Assault: Attack that does X Damage to a single target or X damage spread of multiple targets.
- Gut: You attempt to finish the wounded target off by gutting causing 420% weapon damage. Gut can only be used on enemies that have 20% or less health.
- Immolation trap: Place a fire trap at the feet of your target that will burn the target for (Attack power * 0.02 + 638) * 5) Fire damage over 15 sec.
- Explosive Trap: Place a fire trap at the feet of your target that explodes, causing 216 to 277 (+ 5.46% of Attack power) Fire damage and burning all enemies within 10 yards for (32 * 10) additional Fire damage over 20 sec.
Maybe you hate the idea of a melee hunter. Maybe Blizzard has no intention of ever making a melee spec for us. But the larger, general point, is that such a change would make each spec feel unique and give it a very defined role in the larger world of raiding and PvP.
There are ways to do this with every single template I listed above. It probably involves less tier-based ability choices and more spec-specific abilities (I’d personally be ok with all tier abilities being passive and/or utility choices, not dps ones).
What If We Stay the Same?
Some of this is admittedly outlandish. I doubt we’ll see much of this, ever. Chances are, we’ll get changes to our existing specs in a way that keeps all of them as both single target and AoE ranged dps. And that’s fine. It make differentiation harder, but there are still ways to do that. We talked about one (Accentuating Current Strengths template), and we’ll tackle some in later articles.