Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting Rid of the Bloat

One of the biggest concerns with hunters this expansion has been with ability bloat.  No other class received the "double your buttons" treatment like hunters did and the hunter community spoke out about it.  The expansion has been out for quite some time now and the hunters that did not just give up on it have gotten used to it.  But that doesn't mean they like it.  They are still very verbose about their dislike of the bloat situation.

Where we stand right now I feel bad for ghostcrawler because he is in a no win situation.  Admittedly I can not feel too much sympathy for him because it is a situation he and his design team created themselves.  They should have never let this bloat be released in the first place.  To paraphrase what he said and show why I feel for him he said, we can't just take things away because people will feel like we are removing their power or removing something they like.  Something along those lines at least.

That is why I feel for him because that is exactly how I feel with the changes to stampede.  I've gotten so used to using it as a utility ability that the changes to it do indeed make me feel weaker and it removes an ability that has become an extremely powerful tool in my collection of a million and one abilities.  Changing it has made me lash out as it has many others.

So if he is going to address the button bloat issue he is going to have to do it with caution.  They can not just change things on a whim, as it seems they did with stampede for PvP reasons.  They need to think better before just changing how abilities work and/or removing abilities all together in an effort to quick fix something.

Some days when playing I wish playing a hunter was like playing my rogue.  Just a three button rotation, four if you include the fact that one replaced another at a certain life level of the mob, and a few cooldowns.  While there is a lot more to it if you wish to get deeper into it you can do competitively well with less than 10 buttons total and only 3 of them ever used regularly.  Does that mean I would want that for hunters?

It is a tricky situation because people do not like having things taken away from them.  When they removed concussive shot from the beta I posted here about how I would miss it and about the many uses of it and how often it has decided a life or death situation for me. 

They were trying to remove bloat, but in the wrong place in my opinion.  They decide to add a glyph for arcane shot that would effectively turn it into a concussive shot with the damage of arcane.  I then wrote again about it and explained how that was not the point.  The point was it was something that was there when we needed it, it was free, and we did not need to waste a glyph slot on something that has been baseline since as long as I can remember.

The hunter community was almost unanimous on the topic and after various posts online on blogs and in forums and much support and lobbying concussive shot was given back to the players.  Chalk one up for the good guys.

This would lead people to ask the question, and rightfully so, why if we are so upset with the bloat do we keep lobbying to keep abilities they try to remove.  That is a very good question and I will try to explain from my standpoint.  I can not speak for others, but I believe a fair deal would have the same opinion I do on the matter.

Concussive shot was not a part of our rotation.  Never has been and never will be.  For many hunters it was not something that was ever even on their bar.  I am almost assure you that if you ask 100 raiding hunters (that do not PvP or solo) if they have ever used concussive shot 50% would say, what is that, 25% would say, on certain fights it is helpful, and the other 25% would say, nah, I don't even have it on my bar.  All guessing at numbers, but using the hunters I have met and taught in game I would say that would be a fair guesstimate. 

Concussive shot was not a required shot.  You can get a lot of use out of it in PvP and soloing and there have been more than enough raiding occasions to use it but oft times someone else can do the slowing so not many hunters even investigate it.  Over the years I've had sapper concussive macros, spirit concussive macros, etc.  All to get things that spawn slowed ASAP.  I am one of the 25% that actually used it in all aspects of the game.  But the key here is, it was not part of my button bloat.  It is a utility ability.  It can be useful and it does show the good hunters from the bad ones.  But it is not something that is used as part of your standard boss fight and not using it at all and letting someone else handle the slows will probably never effect your raid team in any way.

That is why they could give concussive back.  That is why hunters do not consider concussive part of the ability bloat.  It is situational.  Masters call, traps, distracting shot, scatter shot, silencing shot, etc.  They, and many like them, are all utility shots that have their uses but are not part of our regular rotation.  Heck, you could even add things like misdirect, deterrence, disengage and feign death to that list even if those four quite often find their uses in every fight at one point of another and could be considered part of our standard use.  They all share one thing in common, utility.

The hunter issue is not with utility bloat.  Yes, there is utility bloat but that is not what we talk about when we talk about bloat.  Yes, that moves to the PvP saying easy to play and hard to master for the hunters because the hunters have so many abilities that are situational and in PvP you might have every single one of those situations.  But I've never once in my life heard a real PvPer complain that they had too much control or too much utility.  I've heard them say it was hard but never heard them say they want it removed.  Utility is good, utility is not bloat.

The issue with bloat is not about utility abilities.  Sadly, it seems like that is what is going to take the hit when blizzard tries to remove the bloat.  Do you think removing snake trap is going to remove the bloat?  Nope.  I know it will not but blizzard will think it will and we will be once again forced to fight for our utility ability back.  If you are saying, but who ever uses snake trap I won't even explain and just leave it at, you are going to have to trust me that many of us hunters have found a use for it in various situations. 

If snake trap was still like it was in beta, where it did 200K DPS by itself during its duration, then I could see it being part of the bloat.  It would become part of the bloat because it would be part of our rotation.  See, that is the difference between utility and bloat.  Bloat is something we have to do whereas utility is something we can do if we needed to.  If snake trap did 200K DPS during its duration it would be bloat because we would have to use it.

I am just hoping that someone at blizzard reads this and understands that we hunters love the fact we have a million buttons.  Having a million buttons is not the problem.  It is having that many we need to use to do our rotation that is the problem we refer to as bloat.  It is the fact that because we have so many it gives us the feeling as if our signature shots are not hitting as hard as they should.  It gives us the feeling as if we are weak, even if the end result numbers show we really aren't all that much.

So ghostcrawler is in a hard situation.  How do you remove the bloat, all those extra damage dealing abilities, without making people feel as if something is being taken away from them?

As always I have some suggestions for changes.  Some of which are completely different to what we know and others might be a little controversial.

How would I remove some of the bloat?

1) Give Dire Beast the Blink Strike treatment.

To remove the bloat you need to remove the damage dealing abilities that require an extra key press.  Abilities like thrill of the hunt and now blink strikes already subscribe to that theory.  Dire beast is one of those abilities that could easily be adapted to do the same thing passively.

Dire Beast: Your Cobra/Steady shot have a 100% chance to summon a dire beast.  This ability can only be triggered once every 30 seconds.  Your beast will last for 15 seconds and each time your beast deals damage you gain 5 focus.

See, it would now be a passive.  Reduce the damage dealing component a slight bit, as it is now not something you have to hit, it is a passive, which in turn frees up a global cooldown every 30 seconds.  To offset that reduce the damage it does to roughly approximate the damage you will gain from being able to fire an extra, lets say, arcane shot during that time frame.

For example, if the beast attacked 10 times and did 20K each hit, meaning it did 200K during its duration, and the arcane shot you will now be firing in place of that now unused global hits for 40K we just remove that 40K from the beasts standard damage dealt.   So that would mean you now want the beast to do 160K over those 10 attacks so you lower the attack to 16K each.  (yes I know the numbers are BS, I am just illustrating a point on how it would be designed)

So now dire beast is now a passive, it does not change the damage the hunter does at all in the slightest, and it removes one of the bloat buttons.  Of course it would still need to be managed.  To have maximum up time a hunter would have to make sure to hit with a cobra/steady exactly on cooldown to trigger another beast but even if they didn't it would still come in time and the better more skilled hunters would be rewarded with a small, but deserved, boost by getting maximum beast up time thanks to make sure they time their cobra/steady shot perfectly to get as much beast damage and focus as possible.

Now that is how you remove button bloat without making hunters feel like they are having something taken away from them ghostcrawler.  I don't envy his position, but I believe removing the bloat my way would help.  Maybe if he sees this it might give him some ideas and he can clean up the idea a little better.

2) Change Level 90 Talents to be Modifiers to Multi Shot.

 Glaive Toss, Barrage and Power Shot all have tiny side effects involved in what they do, as well as doing damage.  In an effort to remove an additional button from the bloat they can change these abilities from being a second targeted AoE to modifying the one we already have.

Something like this maybe.

Glaive Toss: When you fire a multi shot you will also hurl two glaives at your main target, each dealing X damage to each enemy struck and reducing movement speed by 30% for 3 sec. The primary target will take 4 times as much damage from each strike.  The Glaives will return back to you, damaging and snaring targets again as they return.

Of course being this will be added to your multi shot and will no longer be a 15 second cooldown the damage done from the glaives would need to be scaled down appropriately which would seem considerable at first but not when looking at the grand scheme of things.

Barrage: Your multi shot will now become your multi barrage.  Your multi shot will now rapidly fire a spray of shots forward every one second for 3 sec, dealing a total of X% weapon damage to the enemy target and an average of X% weapon damage to each other enemy target in front of you. Useable while moving.

Of course being there will be only the stand multi 1 second cooldown so the damage would need to be scaled down and the cost of your multi shot would need to be increased by 20 focus at least to offset the fact it is firing for three seconds instead of one instant.  Added effects, like serpent spread and beast cleave would work every second of the three seconds and bombardment would change in this event that makes the next multi barrage half cost.

Power Shot: You wind up a powerful multi shot, which deals X% weapon damage to the target and X% weapon damage to all other enemies in an X degree cone of the target. Enemies hit by Powershot are also knocked back.  Increases the global cooldown of multi shot to 6 seconds.

Of course this would be the true power option for multi shot.  It would do a lot more damage than the others as well as have a knockback function (that a glyph would be available to disable) but as such it would increase the cooldown of multi shot to 6 seconds.

All three of these changes would remove an ability from the game while modifying an existing one instead of adding another.  All three would also see situations where they might be the better choice for AoE.  I am not sure if my redesign here is different enough between glaive toss and barrage, but at least it is an idea.

3) Make A Murder of Crows a constant.

While changing things to a passive this was one I was really looking forward to changing.  My idea for the change would make for something that would be extremely difficult to balance but would be interesting to see in action.  Our new passive ability would go something like this.

A Murder of Crows:  Whenever you fire an arcane shot you will summon a crow that lasts for 20 seconds.  No more than 5 crows per hunter can ever exist in this manner.  Your crows will do X% weapons damage multiplied by the number of crows alive at that time.  If a crow is killed before its duration is complete you will gain 5 focus.

This would make for interesting balance.  Keeping maximum crows up would of course be a huge DPS increase but can you keep your rotation going and make sure you always have 6 crows up?  That could be fun to find out.  The crows themselves will have very little life and could easily be killed so they would not be too over powered in PvP thanks to this constant crow presence but in a PvE environment they will have the benefit most pets do and most likely not take any damage and live for their duration.

Like I said, it might sound a little complex, but in my head I am really loving this ability.

4) Increase the cooldown of Stampede & Lower the cooldown of Stampede.

You can't do both, or can you?

Increase the base cooldown of stampede to 8 minutes and make it a little more powerful, more true to the original intention of the ability.  Also return the utility of the ability where they will do real abilities, case buffs, growl, etc.  Have the ability labeled as not usable in arena.

Then add a glyph to decrease the cooldown to 2 minutes and change the power of the ability.  It can then exist in the neutered form it is currently in where they use no special abilities, cast nothing, and basically just nibble on the toes of unsuspecting critters and it will be labeled as usable in arenas now while you have the glyph in.

This gives the best of both worlds.  PvPers do not have to worry about the burst as much but now need to deal with these ankle biters more often even if they only tickle a bit now and non PvPers have an actual cooldown working the way it was intended to work from the get go, but at the cost of a much longer cooldown, which is fair compensation to get back the ability we want the way it should really be to begin with.

What does this have to do with button bloat?  Well, not much, but with an 8 minute cooldown it is more likely you will only use it once a fight and not twice and it would be much more powerful as an 8 minute cooldown.  So it only reduceds bloat to the extent of 1 key press instead of 2 per fight.  Still a 50% reduction if you look at it that way. ;)

5) Do Something with Lynx Rush

I almost forgot about this once awesome ability when I was writing this post because it is so horrible now.  I do not even have any ideas that could morph its current state into a passive that is useful and not repetitive with blink strikes.  This is the best I could think of, and of course it would need to be balanced correctly.

Lynx Rush: Every time your pet lands a critical basic attack a bleed that lasts for 5 second will be applied to all non crowd controlled targets within 10 yard equal to the damage of the critical.  If a second critical hits before the 5 seconds are up the damage will be adjusted and the debuff will reset to 5 seconds.  If there are no secondary targets for this critical bleed effect to hit then a bleed for 50% of the critical will be applied to the main target and refreshed on a critical in the same manner.

Okay, admittedly not the greatest but I told you I was at a loss for this one.

7) Fevor is Focus.

Change fevor into a passive boost to focus generation.  If used correctly it would give you 100 focus for its 30 second cooldown.  Change it to something like 120 focus over a minute, 2 focus per second, as a passive.  You get less because you do not need to handle it, but it translates into more than it would if someone forgot to use it.  Sure it would ruin the pooling for burst and coupling up with crows, but being crows in now a passive as well the need for pooling for burst like that is no longer really needed, is it?

End note:

So now instead of adding upwards of 6 new buttons, one utility from the level 30 talents and then 1 each from 60, 75, and 90, stampede and readiness for SV and BM it adds less thanks to many becoming passives. 

For the expansion we would then only pick up two new buttons (1 for marks) instead of the the possible 6 we did at the start of the expansion for specs like survival and BM which saw silencing shot, readiness, stampede, level 90 AoE, level 75 ability and possibly the level 60 one as well.  Those buttons where the bloat.  Those are the buttons that need to be handled.  Those are the ones that some people might scream if they were removed but making them still be there, but passive, could help with the screams.  Bloat can be removed.

The funny part is this, even with the bloat removed, hunters would still have more rotational abilities than most classes.  Makes you wonder, if they already had more rotational abilities than most classes, why were they given more new ones than any other class.  Don't you think a class with three buttons could have used a forth and fifth before a hunter that had six got 4+ more?  I think that is a reasonable question.

With all that said now I must admit I have gotten used to all the extra buttons.  Have been for a long time.  I don't even notice they are there, it is just a part of my rotation.  But it doesn't mean I would not want to see things trimmed down.  We are not even done with the expansion and my poor fingers are getting tired with all that moving around.  A nice 5 buttons or less rotation is a nice break once in a while.  That must explain why even if I dislike playing my rogue and playing in melee I've actually been using my rogue quite a bit this expansion.  It is nice to not have to be a world class typist while playing a game.

I don't envy ghostcrawlers job in dealing with the people as he tries to fix the bloat issue but we know something will be coming and something will be done.  Lets just hope that he doesn't try to remove concussive shot, again, in an effort to remove bloat.  If he does it just proves he has no clue what we mean by bloat and would deserve us giving him crap.

What would you do with the bloat issue?

Or are you like me and just do not care as much about it much anymore because you have gotten used to it?


  1. hmmm, gotten use to it, so use to it, I am playing a mage now. After stampede got dumbed pvp down, playing hunters is not the same. As Tommy said "We're not gonna take it".

    I still use snake trap. :)

    -stay frosty

    PS- nice post. But how do you use only 3 to 4 buttons on your rogue? What do you use?

    1. As Anon said, those four and as for assassination it is similar but with mut instead of sin, and once slice and dice is up ti refresh itself, so almost 3.

    2. ok, ty GE. I am a combat, as you said in earlier posts, all the tomfoolery of the changes, made them non-livable in Mists (to me). I really dis-like 1 at time killing and going so slow. I just dont have the time to do more than 20 to 45 minutes on anything. Now, that you leveled a mage, what buttons did you like and spec? I am leveling as frost for the water elemental. too bad fire doesn't have a fire elemental. :D thanks in advance.

    3. I leveled as frost in vanilla content, arcane through BC and wrath, fire in cata and back to arcane in mists.

      There really is no wrong choice however. They are all good but for leveling I might still say that frost is best. I only switched to arcane because in that time frame when I leveled it was over powered and I could basically one shot mobs. Don't think it would work that way any more however.

    4. I leveled my first mage as fire (Frostfire Bolt is the best looking spell in the game, IMO) and I'm leveling my second as frost. It's hard to quantify but I think fire is a bit better for single-target combat, if you prefer pulling multiple mobs then frost is the obvious way to go.

      The main issue with leveling as fire is having low crit while leveling... you don't get very many hot streaks and mobs tend not to live long enough anyway. With frost you can actually do a more normal rotation. I actually don't like the pet, though, so I often just run without it.

    5. I have a friend with three maxed mages and he leveled all three fire. It can be done but I think it is more a matter of taste.

      I too am not all that fond of the pet. Odd being a hunter main and I love my pet on my hunter, but as a mage it does not tank, it makes a lot of noise, and it seems to be in the way more than anything else. Not sure the AI for the water elemental is as advanced as the hunter or lock one.

  2. @Roo

    Combat rogue:

    Sinister Strike
    Revealing Strike
    Slice 'n' Dice

    Those are the only 4 rotational buttons you need (might include Blade Flurry in the list but it's a toggle, not really a button to be pushed in a rotation), everything else is a cooldown or a utility button. Rupture may or may not be a dps increase to use but it's a major hassle for at best a very minor increase so I'm not sure if any combat rogues use it these days.


    I think it depends on what you consider rotational buttons. For me, bloat buttons are ones that DO increase your dps but are clunky to use &/or don't increase your dps by MUCH.

    Looking at SV, I'd consider the primary rotational buttons to be:

    Cobra Shot
    Serpent Sting
    Explosive Shot
    Black Arrow
    Arcane Shot

    Beyond that, you have a second tier of rotational buttons that do significant dps:

    Kill Shot
    Glaive Toss (or equivalent)

    Buttons I'd consider bloat:

    Snake Trap (I'd rather remove the damage component entirely, make it a utility button)

    Explosive Trap (I just don't like the way the ability works, stationary ground AoE with a cooldown that long just makes it unnecessarily limited)

    Readiness (I really hate this button... just make the base cooldowns 1.5x as strong or last 1.5x as long, having to hit this and then re-hit the other cooldowns is really clunky... yes, I know it's an iconic hunter ability but I'd support losing it entirely)

    I like your idea of tweaking some buttons/talents to be modifiers instead of brand new buttons. For instance, I could imagine a tier where all the abilities directly modify Multi-Shot:

    One that adds a short-term concussive effect
    One that adds a small knockback
    One that adds a short-term disorient

    Something like that, anyway. The idea of cutting down on new buttons is a good one but I agree that abilities like Concussion (Concussive?) Shot are good to have, all classes should have a few of those. Hunters just have too many.

    I could do with fewer "Hand of" buttons on my pally, too, while they're at it.

    My monk is probably the only class I have where I actually find most/all of the buttons logical and actually use them, even in PvE, and the other buttons I don't use have obvious PvP use (the Disarm-like ability, for instance).

    I especially love the monk DR talent tier... the choice between a steady, occasional self-heal, a magic damage reduction or a physical damage reduction. For non-progression fights I'd take the passive self-heal, for progression fights I'd take whichever of the two DRs has the most benefit for that particular fight. For Tortos I took the physical one, for Meg I took the magic one. Actual choice where it doesn't feel like I need to have all of them but each is legitimately useful.

    1. ah, thank you. Now, maybe I can start playing the rogues (yes, I got a bunch) again.

      But I am having such a blast (lol, bad pun) with my frost mage, it isn't funny.

      really stay frosty

    2. If you choose an active ability in the other 2 tiers you can add both those and also stampede. So you have your 5 basic, 2 additional and 3 more after that. 10 just to do standard DPS. That is not even counting readiness and rapid fire as DPS cooldowns. And add to that how you handle the use of them. So you are talking 12 rotational buttons, more than double most other DPS specs.

      I consider snake trap, and the like, situational. Explosive does have its place in AoE situations but you can really get away with not using it and no one would even notice.

      I do not mind all those utility abilities. The more the better. But they can seem like a lot for a new player to take in. That is the only problem with them. But the good thing is, for your standard job, no on will ever need any of those. That is why they are utility.

      Paladins are like the melee version of hunters with all those hands. It can be really overwhelming to a new player. Heck, even a part time player of a paladin like me need to always read them again because I forget what they all do. lol

  3. Agree with most of the button changes but I really dont mind pushing a button for my Dire Beast allowing me to save that cooldown for a little extra DPS burst has actually helped in certain situations and I dont necessairily need it when I'm out killing goats or mushan to skin amw with Crows but overall Id rather see Crows as a passive
    Again being so new to the game I have no idea what Hunters have endured in the past lol and what is so different now

    1. If you learn with all the buttons and that is all you ever knew, it is nothing for you really. Just part of the game. But seeing how it was, or even seeing how easy the other classes have it button wise, you notice the bloat a bit more.

  4. As BM, we gained Readiness, T90, and T75. I won't count T60 since we had Fervor before, but that doesn't mean we "need" that button.

    Back in Cata, Fervor used to be something I timed for BW, but now with the all the changes, it's not worth it. I used it for a while in Mists when Fervor was off the GCD. I macro'd it to Cobra Shot. Blizz broke that though.

    I'd make Readiness a utility CD instead of a DPS CD. It should only reset other utility abilities (defense and control). It shouldn't be part of our "opener".

    T90 and T75 should all be passives or utilities. I think adding flavor to existing abilities is a good idea. T90 could be for Multi-Shot as Grumpy suggested or Arcane Shot and T75 could be for Pet attacks (or Arcane shot if T90 was used for Multi).

    Some ideas:
    T75 - Pet attacks
    Blink Strikes - as it currently is (good for movement/target switching fights/PvP)
    AMoC - I like Grumpy's idea of a stacking DoT from the crows but proc'd off pet attacks instead of AS (good for longer single target fights)
    Lynx Rush - it could be similar but just randomly proc'd (good for AoE/multi-target fights)

    T90 - Arcane and Multi-Shot procs
    Glaive Toss - causes regular glaive tosses; maybe every shot or proc'd every few seconds (good for cleave fights)
    Frost Arrows or Freezing Shots - causes a stackable slow and some additional frost dmg (good for PvP or kiting or just single target)
    Powershots - causes a small knockback and some additional physical dmg (alternative to the slow, I guess)

    I'm not really crazy about those T90 options though. It's not straightforward to come up with 3 good options.

    T60 is probably OK but I'd consider maybe doing it differently. It's the Focus tier, so we should have a passive focus regen option for everday use (something new or Grumpy's Dire Beast), a big focus CD (Fervor) for burst situations, and ... need a 3rd option... maybe Rapid Fire could be changed to a talent in this tier or keep Thrill of the Hunt which is more random. It's hard to find 3 Focus regen options. A passive and a CD only makes 2... One important note, is I think the abilities shouldn't cause any DPS directly; only extra dps through extra focus.

    I really like Grumpy's suggested change to Stampede.

    1. Making them all utility or modifier things would be the simplest solutions. Lets hope they go that way instead of what I fear, trying to remove the utility thinking that is what we mean by bloat.

      I too would really like if they adapted the stampede idea. It would be the best of both worlds. Give the PvE players the stampede back that they want and balance the PvP issue with them. Even the 2 minute version might have uses in a raid situation for small burst moments.