Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mists: A Good Expansion for Hunters

For this post I would like to completely forget everything else the expansion has bought us from the good of pet battles to the bad of double gating and a 14 month content drought.  I want to just share my opinion on mists purely from the perspective of playing a hunter.  We were left with sub par numbers on occasion, no real raid utility, and issues here and there like all other classes in every expansion ever but it was part of the ups and down and over all it is my opinion that we as a class had a very good expansion.

Focus Finds its Grove

Focus was added for cataclysm and we got our first taste of it in the pre patch that ended wrath.  For many of us it was a game changer.  Some players quit playing hunters while others started to play one just for focus because they liked the resource.  For anyone that was already versed in the ways of the hunter however, like it or not, it was a complete change on how the class worked.

It was in mists however when we had the talents added which assisted with focus generation that focus began to really find its own way as a resource perfect for hunters.  Gone were the days of the change and comparisons between focus and mana.  Two years had past since its introduction and now we have been using focus for a while and even got some nifty new abilities to play with that adjusted the generation or management of it.

Thinking about all the resources in the game right now and the rapid fire constantly hitting abilities every second it is hard to remember the days before hunters had focus.  Even the most hardened mana defenders had to admit that focus really was working and it was working well.

Focus not only fit hunters in usage but it melded well with the easy to play hard to master mantra that has been said about hunters since the beginning of the game.  Focus allowed people anywhere from new players to top player to get something out of it. 

Where the new player could just use a spend and generate rotation they could do okay the skilled player could maximize by watching their focus and keeping it at the perfect level, watching cooldowns, timers, pooling, spending and lining up abilities to go from doing okay to doing fantastic and because of the hunters super fast paced rotation with a one second global cooldown and so many instant spells it made for a very complex balance for those new to class which left room for everyone to always get better and squeeze out some more damage.

Also with pet damage, auto shot damage, fast paced rapid abilities and the design of focus being a constant resource that lasts forever all the abilities were balanced around the fact that one mistake can not kill your numbers like it could with some other classes.  There is definitely a good and bad to that but over all it is good for everyone when one mistake doesn't kill you.  That has to amount to a plus.

Focus was not a bad resource to begin with when it was added in cataclysm but with some time to fine tune it and new abilities added to adjust it in mists, focus really took its place as the hunter resource in mists and what a great resource it is.  Hunters are the only class in the game to have it and with its build and spend design that leaves everything in the players power to manage it makes for an extremely good resource that other classes should be jealous of.

I Like the Way You Move

Hunters of years past were like any other caster (even if we are not casters) and were land locked for the most part but over the years they were allowed to move a little more and more each expansion.  Mists is when the final change clicked and hunters became a fully mobile ranged class and it was, is and always will be awesome.

We started the expansion doing the stance dance between fox to move and hawk for our big shots.  For the well versed player it was as simple as a matter of macros or quick fingers but even for the inexperienced player it left them options to move for everything.  As the expansion went on fox went away and there was no longer a need to play the stance dance, it was just pew pew on the run all the time.

Once again hunters not only carved their niche in the game but they owned it.  Fighting on the move was not only what hunters could do but it is what they did extremely well and that all came to pass in mists.

A Bad Design Says Goodbye

The dead zone was the bane of all hunters and even after they said they removed it, it was still there.  Anyone that had ever played and heard the click click click because they were too close to use ranged and too far to melee will tell you the dead zone never disappeared, it just became incredibly small.  While it is true that the super tiny dead zone of recent years was a hell of a lot better than the dead grand canyon that we seemed to have had in the past it was still a bad design and with the coming of mists we saw the leaving of the dead zone.

No longer would be hunters be told we can not shoot someone at point blank range.  Now if we wanted to pull back and arrow and place it to someones forehead while we stood face to face with them we could.  While this might be visually humorous to imagine with a bow it made perfect sense with a gun.  We should have always been able to hit someone no matter what range we were at.

Losing the dead zone in mists was a dream come true for many hunters, even more so ones like me that love to play by sound because I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, the dead zone still existed even though they had said it was gone because I often heard click click click because I happened to be in that exact too close and too far range at the same time.  Good riddance.

Say Hello to my Little Friend

Ever since wrath hunters have been lucky enough to get some love with a few rare tames they could catch out in the world.  As much as all of us hunters like to say we do not get any love we have to remember we get new pets, rare tames, challenge tames, etc every single expansion and that shows that there is a little love for us out there.  Mists was no different.  Not only with one full set of rare tames but with two.  Not to mention a whole slew of new beasts and skins out in the world that were not so rare at all but still there for the taming.

It started with the foot prints you would find in the world that you needed to follow with a flare.  It was not just one pet that you could tame following their foot steps but at least one in each zone.  And all with the added benefits that someone else could not kill it because they could not see it while passing over.  Only you could make it viable with the use of your flare ability and then keep it viable with a hunters mark so you could tame it.

There was a short water strider that could be found in the jade forest, a cat in the jade forest, a crane in the valley of the four winds, a turtle in krasarang wilds, a porcupine in kun-lai summit, a goat in kun-lai summit, a basilisk in townlong steppes, a tall water strider in the dread wastes and a quilen in the vale of eternal blossoms.  And the one in the vale could spawn in 4 different colors so if you were looking for a specific one you could end up hunting him for a while to get the one you want be it red, blue, purple or green.

Another pet, a purple silkworm, was added in 5.1 using the same tracking mechanic.  However you did not follow footprints like the other rare finds, this time around you need to follower partly eaten flowers.  They looked just like silkweed.  Unlike the foot prints where you could follow them (backwards at first oddly enough) to know which way the pets were headed the flowers the silkworm left behind did not point in a direction, so have fun finding him.  You could spend all day moving in the wrong direction if you pick the wrong way.  They stepped up the challenge this time.

So far between release and the first patch counting different colors, there were 13 new pets to be tamed for hunters.  Mists was showing a lot of hunter love for those hunters out there that like to collect pets but they were not done yet.  The silkworm would not end up being the biggest challenge we hunters would have as far as tames went this expansion.

With 5.2 came new spectral pets, porcupines at it may be.  There were three colors.  Red, green and blue and each had their own unique challenge to taming them sort of like the spiders and other beasts that gave hunters a challenge back in cataclysm's molten front.

The red porcupine, Degu in the wilds, had two abilities that could basically instantly kill you.  One if you were too far from him and one if you were too close to him meaning you had to tame him at the appropriate distance which could tend to be quite the task.  The green porcupine, Hutia in the jade forest, you needed to stay as far away from as possible and needed to interrupt.  The blue porcupine, Gumi in the summit, which was a super fast porcupine that you needed to keep from reaching you and it would take every trick in the book to make sure that happened.  Being this pet is on the side of a mountain however it made for a unique challenge.  How do you kite on the side of a mountain?  Very carefully.

Last but not least there was the timeless island and more tameable pets which, if you were going after a rare like gucci or great fury or emerald gander could being a challenge all of its own depending on your server and how quickly the rares died.

Say what you want about hunters not getting any love sometimes but it sure seems our tames have received a lot of love in mists.  Not only with all the new and unique skins that appeared but we had a whole flurry of rare and challenging tames this expansion and there is no denying this is hunter only content.  Yay us.

Did Fluffy Hurt You?

An extremely skilled hunter in PvP has always been a deadly thing.  Hunters are extremely hard to play in PvP because they have so many tools and being able to use them all at the right time and effectively is most definitely a skill very few players have.  Hunters have always been the hardest class to play at max level in PvP.  But this was not so at the beginning of mists.

At the start of mists even a hunter of suspect PvP skill could destroy anyone thanks to, in part, our insane button bloat.  With readiness to reset our cooldowns combined with a full power stampede you were effectively our own raid group.  Say what you will about it but there is no one in the game that does not like being over powered.  Even if you know it will never last we all love to feel strong like that once in a while and against an unsuspecting and/or unskilled player a hunter was immediately a god in PvP when mists was released.

On the backs of our one man raid team all with their unique buffs they cast when you called stampede you, alone, made for a formidable group.  With our own trueshot aura and 5 pet buffs like stats, attack speed, critical strike, mastery, and whichever else you wished, we were nearly raid buffed all by ourselves when we called stampede.  All that and our pets hit for a surprisingly high amount of damage and having all 5 out at the same time while blowing through the heart of our rotation and then hitting readiness and doing it all again meant that anyone that did not know how to protect themselves was dead.  Dead, dead and dead.  It was so much damage piled on in one short burst that you could kill the person three times over before they even had the chance to notice you had attacked them to begin with.

It did not last long and we all knew it wouldn't.  It was over powered.  So very over powered.  So deliciously over powered.  Sure a good player or a good team in team combat could easily counter it, but it was too over powered for the average player and the average player is where the vast majority of people are, that is why it is called average.  So it needed to to nerfed and it was, hard.

Either way, any time you can be that powerful you are going to remember that moment fondly and mists offers us that as a memory.  The memory of sneaking up on someone in camouflage and opening up a can of whoop ass on them before they ever could react.  It was great and it will be a great memory that mists allows us to have.

Big Game Hunter

I might not be hemet, and neither are you, but hunters hunt and who does not like the big game hunt.  There were rares all around the world in mists and with every patch they added more and all those rares had a name tag on them that said they belonged to me.  Hands off you filthy (add class that is not a hunter name here) that rare belongs to a hunter.

When leveling that first day I was ahead of the pack so I killed all the rares solo as I passed by while leveling.  It was extremely fun.  When the warbringers and warscouts were added I killed them solo as well, same with the isle of thunder rares and the timeless island rares.   No rare added in mists gave me trouble for long.

Hunters are the masters of open world content and mists offered a lot for us to do.  I do not care what everyone else thinks but when you see a silver dragon portrait around a mob that doesn't mean it is a rare that means it belongs to a hunter.  Do you know what that silver portrait reads?  It reads, "property of hunters".  While every other class in the game was posting in general looking for a group as a hunter you just walked up and killed because that is what we do.  No group required, we are our own group.

Others might think differently of it but whenever I see a rare in the world I think of it as it is content designed just for me.  Every time I kill a rare I say thank you blizzard.  When I am on alts I think can I do this, should I try, is there a friend around to help but when I am on a hunter all I see is a living breathing bag of loot with my name on it that will soon be dead and his bag of loot will be in my bag of spoils.

Nothing is more fun than big game hunting and nothing in more fun than doing it at gear level or lower than expected.  Soloing a warscout on my level 86 alt hunter was awesome, but it was a rare and I am a hunter so it belonged to me, what else would you expect.  That was challenging content designed just for me.  Just for hunters.  Just because we are that freaking awesome.  There was a lot of big game to be hunting and we got to hunt it before everyone else did and better than anyone else could.  Its good to be king.  King of open world content that is.

Play What You Want

While it will always remain true that the top end raiders will always play the best spec in the game even if that best spec is only 0.5% better than the other, the specs have remained balanced more than they had ever been before.  Marksmen might have been dead last for the entire expansion but in many cases it was not dead last by a huge margin like some classes need to deal with when talking about the difference between their specs.

Beast mastery remained the champion from the beginning to the end of the expansion giving way for survival occasionally at some gear levels and for some fights but even when it was top of the heap unless you were one of those world first raiders looking for that last bit of damage you really could play any spec you wanted.  Even marksman.  While marksman remained far behind beast mastery and survival it did not really fall far behind in terms of being capable of getting the content done.  Just lesser.

Due to some creative (not really) patching increasing hawks damage modifier hunters have always remained competitive even if not top of the heap which is something to be happy for to begin with in any expansion.  Adding to that the fact you can play the spec you wanted to for the most part made for an amazing expansion of choice for hunters even if for many of us we really never took advantage of it. 

I'll admit I spent the entire expansion being beast mastery or survival for raiding and marksmen for player vs player.  But that does not mean I could not have played beast mastery in player vs player and marksmen in raids.  I could have while not really hurting my teams chances to win and that is an option that does not come around all the time.  We should be glad we had it as well as we did when it comes to spec balance even if we could argue we all would have liked marksman to be a bit higher, because lets face it, we (or at least me) would have surely liked that.

That Gear is Not Junk

It was not until the announcement of warlords and the removal of reforging and introduction of versatility that I realized and fully appreciated how good hunters had it when it came to secondary stats in mists.  In the entire history of the game no single class or spec has ever had all their secondary stats so close together in effective value.

When thinking about the removal of reforging that reminds me how much that matters.  No longer will we be able to switch around secondary stats so having all stats near equally valued means all gear is good for us.  What we have will be what we have without reforging and we, unlike other classes, are not going to hurt as badly by that change.  Back to those days of that piece of gear is junk because it has xxx on it for all the other classes.  For hunters this expansion any piece of gear that was an item level upgrade was an actual upgrade.  All secondary stats were so very close together that it did not matter really.  It came down to which ever had the most stats was the best piece to have.  Sure another piece might be better, but not piece is really junk when your secondary stats are so close in value with each other.

Seeing versatility being added in warlords and getting it on gear in the beta is feeling like such a huge let down because it is a completely useless stat.  It made me look back on mists with rose tinted glasses already and it is not even gone yet.  We had it so well in mists.  No useless stats.  Even the worst stat for the spec we were in was not really all that bad.  We could basically put on any gear we get no matter what stats it has and do well because all stats worked well for us.  I am going to miss that more than I will miss anything else in mists because that is a balance, as I said, no spec had ever seen before and no spec will ever likely see again.  At least not while there is a worthless stat like versatility in the game.

Hunters had it good.  It is not like everyone had this luck.  Certain classes needed only things with mastery, only things with haste, only things with critical strike.  Certain classed need to reach this break point, that break point, or the other break point.  Hunters never had to worry about any of that, and that is how it should be.  We get gear, we put it on, we kill things.  Just like a hunter should.  Secondary stats helped us, sure, but what those stats were did not really matter because they were all useful for us.

It was nice to fine tune it for a few extra numbers to ring up on the hunter pew pew meter but over all it was not make or break because of how close the value of the secondary stats were.  You might not notice how good we had it in this department now but trust me when you are sitting on 8 pieces of gear with the completely worthless versatility stat on it and you look back at mists and think, I wish this was a good stat like it would have been in mists.  Bravo blizzard for creating the best stat balance you ever managed and thanks for giving that balance to hunters because we are so awesome we deserved it.  Sadly it will be missed.

End Note

It was not all roses, never is.  We had the button bloat issue, lots to get used to for many of us, we had the constant and excessive nerfs and reversals of stampede.  Other abilities nerfed or gutted in general.  Bestial wrath losing its terminator theme.  Falling behind, waiting for buffs, boring aspect buff that was supposed to fix it all, no raid utility, you name it.  We had our fair share of problems over the course of the expansion as well.  Don't get me wrong, it was not perfection for hunters, but it sure was good for hunters over all.  All those pets, rares and balance.  Yeah.  What is there not to like about that?  In the end mists was a good hunter expansion in my opinion.


  1. Focus does seem in a better place than when it first hit. I hated it at the beginning of cata. During wrath I had my mana based rotation down like clockwork. But then focus happened, and watching my focus bar, combined with aspect dancing made my dps fall off by nearly 50%. I figure it would just take some getting used to, but that didn't happen. I continued to suck. And would die from standing in the fire because I was always looking at my focus. Ended up taking a long break as a result.

    Coming back to the game in 5.4, focus just seems to work. I have developed a feel for it. SO I pretty much know how much I have without looking. I don't know if its because I finally did figure it out, or if the class has just been tuned enough that focus generation follows an easier pattern, but I really like the way it works right now.

    Mana definitely had problems, there was nothing worse than misjudging how long the fight would take compared to your remaining mana, and having to slip into Viper for part of that all important execute phase.

    1. I was against the change to focus too. I hated being limited after having mana made me feel front loaded. I think I disliked focus more for PvP than PvE however and not being a big PvPer I adapted.

      It is funny you say that about knowing how much focus you have without even thinking. I get like that too. A friend that is learning a hunter, exceptional player as a druid, asked me what I used to follow my focus I said nothing. It is just something you get a feel for over time.

      Remember when viper on lady deathwhisper actually did more damage to her than trying to DPS the mana shield. lol That was fun. How often did we get to use viper as a damaging spell. I would say never.

  2. I can't decide if it's ok to be nostalgic about MoP yet or not. I definitely liked the xpac. There were a lot of sad moments for the hunter community. The taming was definitely amazing. Other than the very beginning, it seems we've always been at least ok for damage.

    As for balancing, for me what's cool, is it's not just that they're all close enough in dps that it's not "wrong" to play one, but I really enjoy playing all three specs right now. I don't know if this will change when I'm more removed from the playstyles as they are now, but I don't know if I've ever enjoyed all three as much as I do right now.

    It's always a good time to be a hunter, but MoP has definitely had moments that stood out.

    1. I'd say there were most definitely a lot of good moments in being a hunter. The expansion had a lot of issues, like every one would, but over all the good out shined the bad to some extent for hunters as I see it.

      I loved the balance of the specs and it is going to be really ahrd to let that go. I hope we see that balance again, and be competitive with other classes, but I will not hold my breath on that one at the moment.