Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Many Abilities are Enough?

A recent post over at Warcraft Hunters Union & WoW Insider talked about hunters having too many buttons and explained the problem with the class right now better than I could have. 

It is almost frustrating trying to explain it to someone that is not in the situation that all hunters are in right now.  The fact there are so many active abilities going on at the same time devalues the abilities we do have to the point where they do not stand out among each other all that much. 

So to maximize your DPS you need to know the difference between hitting the 7% ability or the 8% one but if you have an agility proc the 7% one would now be worth 9% and that would be the better one to hit, but if you have a haste proc the 8% one is now a 9% one making the gap bigger and the mistake you can make hitting the 7% one instead even larger.

So many moving parts, so many abilities with comparable damage they do, so many changes based on your current focus level, the duration of cooldowns remaining, the condition of what procs you might be under, all changing those little numbers around.

Being the gap between abilities are so small one little change in condition could change your rotation priority completely.  While most damage dealing classes have minor changes under a proc, if any, hunters might change completely, all for 1% here and there.  Like using focus fire or not when you know bestial wrath will be off cooldown in 3 seconds.  Waiting 1 second on the kill command to line it up with your wrath. 

Super simple things like that should make a difference in your DPS and they do, but the margin they make a difference by is so small now.  So small and it still will add up to be a great deal over the course of a fight, but also so small that it makes it harder for a new hunter to understand and learn.  Sometimes you think to yourself 1% is 1%, does it really matter?

Yes, it does.

That 1% here and there does not end up being 1% over all.  If it were 1% over all no one would really stress it except for the best of the best elite style players.  But 1% of each ability every single time you hit an ability will add up to a great deal more than 1% overall.  Not sure if that makes sense, but trust me, that 1% is a lot more than 1%, so it matters to each and every hunter out there, not just those elite players.

The only reason hunters are in a bad place right now is because there are too many buttons.  Not because our DPS is low because if done right it is not.  Not because it is harder to get the maximum potential out of our class than any other class, we do not shy from the challenge.  Not because of any one reason people seem to hang on often.  It is all about the buttons. 

The fact that having so many abilities is watering down our rotation into one of two things, whack a mole or whack a mole priority.  And that is the difference between the hunters you see doing 100K on fights and hunters you see doing 50K on fights.  One is hitting whatever they can and another is remembering all those various priorities that seemingly change under various conditions.

Can hunters be fixed?  Yes but they won't be.  Mr Street has already made it abundantly clear that they have no intention of doing any sweeping class changes in the middle of an expansion.  Personally I not find his statement acceptable.  They can do it, they choose not to.  Two completely different things.

How many abilities are enough?

At what point did adding new abilities to hunters reach the point where our abilities no longer felt like signatures and felt more like numbers only? 

While I can not speak for anyone else, all specs of hunters feel the same to me now.  Hit what gives you the most DPS because it gives you the most DPS, not because it is "our shot".  While both end up meaning the same thing, hitting what does the most, hitting KC because I am BM, explosive because I am SV, and chimera because I am MM because those are my big shots feels more natural than hitting them just because they are the top number because now, with all those new abilities, that top number isn't really all that big any more, taking away the signature feel.

How many abilities are enough?

What we had seemed fine.  Adding stampede fells fine.  Even adding readiness to BM and SV felt okay.  All those other buttons did not feel fine.  Each one, as it was added, lowered the power of the signature shot for that spec and that feels off.

How many abilities are enough?

Each person will see it as what they feel comfortable with.  I've learned to adapt to all those extra buttons, but that is all they feel like to me, extra buttons, clutter, useless junk I need to do that could only be called busy work because none of it was necessary to add to the game.

How many abilities are enough?

Perhaps it is not a real number we can put on it, but a concept, like explained in the post I linked.  When there are so many abilities that the difference between them damage wise is so minimal in an effort to make you use them all, there are too many abilities.

My suggestion to a fix?

Take some of the new abilities off the global cooldown.  Things like dire beast, blink strike and glaive toss could be taken off the global cooldown and macroed in, like any good MM hunter had silencing shot macroed into everything in wrath because it had a damage component.  By doing so, they could increase our real abilities to a hit higher, as they should, and lower those off the cooldown abilities to hit lower, so it does not make us over powered, but enough that it would be noticeable that the hunter that used them would see a reasonable, if small, DPS increase from macroing them. Just like you could see the MM hunter that macroed in silencing shot did more in wrath.

Make some of the other abilities replace current ones with a slight boost to them, like some other classes have talents that remove one ability and replace it with another.  Make barrage replace multi-shot and boost it a little.  Make crows replace multi shot and boost it a little and make the crows unkillable.  Make binding shot replace snake trap and have a little boost.  Make power shot replace concussive shot trading in your instant slow for a cast time knock back with damage.

It can easily be fixed, and lower the number of abilities by changing some ability and taking others off the global cooldown.

This would leave use with one new ability across the board, stampede, with its long cooldown, and one new ability, readiness, for two of the three specs.

How many abilities are enough?

I can go either way.  I've adapted to the new way of doing things but it felt better before, in my opinion.  I want my signature shot back.  I want to see few numbers on the screen but bigger numbers instead of a whole bunch of smaller ones that add up to the same thing.  Like I said, I can go either way, but it does not change my opinion that we have way too many abilities now as it is.  How many are enough?  We had enough before.  That was how many in my opinion is enough.

If you have not read that post I suggest reading it.  I had adapted, I had accepted, I had been just living with it.  But after reading that, it made me understand that there is more than just more buttons that was the original problem, it was the watering down of all those buttons. If you had accepted things as they were, maybe reading it will change your mind too.


  1. I tried looking at noxxic to compare their recommended rotations for different classes.

    I don't have any other 90s so I can't really compare them in reality.

    But noxxic showed between 10-16 abilities for each spec, with hunters in the 14-15 range. That doesn't sound accurate though because I don't hear other classes complaining about too many buttons or too much complexity.

    Grumpy, you have a bunch of 90s now. How would you compare each of them from your personal experience?

    Regarding making changes, it's really the Talents that are the problem as you said.

    Lvl 15 is all passive, so that's fine.

    Lvl 30 is all situational CC, so that's fine.

    Lvl 45 has two passive with one on-use option for PvP or situational use, so that's fine.

    Lvl 60 is potentially problematic. The one passive totally messes up our rotation and the other two can't be macro'd. They used to be macroable and I tried having Fervor macro'd to CS for a while. It worked ok. I'd defintely take them totally off the GCD. Fervor wasn't on the GCD in Cata.

    Lvl 75 is potentially problematic as well. Blink is good for lvling and is the only option for PvP now. MoC and LR are on long CDs so they're not too bad. I like your ideas regarding changing them with multi-shot. MoC replaces multi-shot and gives us an AoE DoT, like Serpent Spread; spawning a crow on each target with an initial attack plus a bleed DoT; casting it again rolls the ticks together like other DoTs. LR could be the same but be like a super Beast Cleave that replaces Multi-shot. It'd need to be spammable and the DoT ticks should roll together. Both abilities should be meaningful for 2+ targets but not for single target.
    Barrage should be swapped with Blink Strike in the lvl 75 AoE Tier and have it a channeled AoE that is not targeted; kind of like the old Volley. So I'd totally replace Multi-shot with one of these 3 options at lvl 75. Or they could keep Multi-shot as is, but these abilities would trump it so you'd never really use Multi-shot.

    Lvl 90 is the one that currently bothers me the most. I'd make this the Arcane shot tier.
    Change Glaive Toss to proc off of Arcane shot; good for cleave fights.
    Change Powershot to give Arcane shot a knockback; good for PvP.
    So moving Blink Strike here, it should also proc off Arcane shot. It'd be great for target switching fights.

    I also want Focus Fire for BM to be taken back off the GCD. It's a pain to hit it inbetween GCDs. I liked being able to just hit it whenever it got to 5 stacks; regardless of the GCD or if I was casting a CS.

    1. I do not have the skill on any other classes that I do on my hunter, so I might not be the perfect person to evaluate them. As I have spent more time on my hunter I am better at it than the other classes. However, with that said, this is my opinion on the others.

      Those large numbers you see on other classes are usually adding situational things mostly for rare occasions.

      The problem is with hunters they add a lot of our abilities in that case too but you will never see any hunter saying glaive toss, blink strike, dire beast, etc is situational. It is part of our main rotation.

      You have to take those guides with a grain of salt. They are good to teach you the basics and I have done well on alts looking at them at noxxic and icy veins. They can get me the basics which someone needs to learn the class but if you wish to do really well you need to build on the basics they teach.

      While I would not say that other classes are easy in comparison I will say that other classes have different styles of difficultly. Either watching combo points, watching DoTs, watching procs, etc.

      In the end, from my experience at 90 the easy classes are shadow priest, mage and rogue, the harder, but still many less button classes, are feral druid and enhancement shaman.

      In the end I was able to do more DPS on my mage with half the buttons at 445 item level than I was able to do on my hunter until I got to around 475 item level. Then add to that the with the mage I could do it with the super simple, no special skill needed noxxic rotation and the hunter I needed a lot more knowledge of my class to get the most out of it and noxxic does not provide that.

      In the end, the mage / shadow priest / rogue / etc all have a much easier rotation that was capable of being learned from places like noxxic only and were capable of doing fair for random content (as in over 50K) DPS at a much lower item level because of a much simpler rotation and someone that was not skilled, namely me, just read the guide and followed the rotation.

      As a life long hunter I needed to work to get my DPS, as a person that had never played shadow in my life all I had to do was hit 90 and read a guide online.

      All because hunters have too many abilities and that makes them all watered down.

  2. I have 12 buttons separately placed for my most frequent use abilities, with some being macro-bound. I think what could use a rethink isn't the number of buttons that we have to press, but where we need to place them in the default Interface... :D

    1. I would like to have what is called the magic 5. A 5 button rotation where those are the main things you use and then everything else being situational.

      So that you can do well if you only used 5 keys. All other classes I play could get by with that (except enhancement shaman).

    2. I don't use the default interface but by default you get one bar with 12 buttons, right?

      That should be Blizzard's guide. It all has to fit in that bar: 5 core buttons like Grumpy said and no more than 7 situational buttons.

      Right now, I have more than 20 buttons that are used. A lot are situational but that's still too many and there are 13 actively used buttons that won't even all fit on one bar. Add pots and things like that and the button count gets really high.

      A game doesn't have to have a lot of buttons to still be challenging. Look at Diablo 3, you have a max of 8 buttons you can use.

  3. oh to be Mike Hammer with that blonde in shorty shorts.... Gwad, I love movies from 50's... oh wait, where am I... sorry.

    Yup, too many buttons, but importantly, too many buttons that are on the same global cooldown that screws with making macros.

    1. Yeah, nothing we can really macro together at all makes it so there is no way to find relief.