I seriously doubt I am the only hunter out there that has some worries about how blizzard is going to handle the ability bloat issue. And it is not just a hunter issue, it is an all class issue. But of course I have a special interest in the hunter angle of it. Not only because my main character is a hunter but because hunters are the poster boys and girls for the ability bloat issue.
Having played all classes I can say with absolute certainty that no other class of no other spec has had to deal with the ability bloat issues that hunters have had to deal with. Ability bloat might, just might, mean something entirely different to them however. For hunters it does not mean we have too many buttons. Not at all. It means our abilities all seem the same, at least the damage dealing ones. That is why it seems like bloat. Why have three different abilties that all hit for roughly the same thing? Three abilties that hit for the same amount is bloat. You could easily just have one ability you hit three times instead of having to hit three different ones. That is what hunter bloat is about.
And that is where this one hunter is worried about the ability bloat issue because it seems blizzard is more concerned about the number of buttons we have and not as concerned about what those buttons actually do.
Back in the mists beta blizzard decided that it was time to trim down some of the bloat, before bloat was even an issue, and if we can learn anything from recent history it is that blizzard does not understand where the issue of bloat is with hunters based on what they removed and tried to remove.
They attempted to remove abilities like eyes of the beast, immolation trap and concussive shot. As it turns out eyes of the beast was lost and has been greatly missed by some hunters. Immolation trap is gone and few if any hunters even notice its absence. And concussive shot faced a great amount of pressure from the community to not see it removed.
Many players, myself included as I believe I was first to post about it when I found it on the beta, fought against its removal. I even made a post as a heartfelt goodbye to one of the true signatures of being a hunter, the concussive shot. As I said then I will say again, the expression "if you can kite it, you can kill it" only holds true because of concussive shot and kiting is a signature of being a hunter because any good hunter should be able to do it.
As it turned out I was not the only one to feel that way and in the weeks that followed my post was linked around and other hunters put pressure where it was needed and low and behold concussive shot was added back in. But not after blizzard tried to keep it gone, gone for good, by making it a glyph that turned arcane shot into concussive as well. It just would not be the same and the hunter community, this great hunter community, would not and could not stand for it. With enough pressure blizzard finally realized that they were wrong and in a later beta patch they added concussive shot back to the great joy of many, myself included.
This was all blizzards attempt to deal with ability bloat before it actually became an issue. They might be a little slow sometimes and somewhat off base, but it seemed someone there at the offices noticed there were just too many buttons floating around, more so for hunters.
The problem was that they were focusing on removing the wrong abilities. Them addressing the ability bloat issue again means there is a great chance that they will once again focus on removing the wrong abilities.
While eyes of the beast was an extra button, it was not part of ability bloat. Lets face it, how often did you use it during a fight? How about never. Maybe you used it to pull back in the day but the times of using it in BRD to do some pulls many many years ago no one had used it for that in a ages. It was just a fun thing to do once in a while and it was not really what anyone would call ability bloat. Yet for some unexplained reason blizzard thought it was a bloat issue and removed it.
Immolate trap could have very well been considered ability bloat. It was a damaging ability and as such it could very easily be considered something, by some players, that they needed to use. In the end however it was one of those things you rarely used outside of setting it in place during the pull or during a moment of down time when there was nothing else you could do because it was not a DPS increase to have it as part of your rotation. Because of its useful only during downtime purpose it is one of those abilities that did not see many, or any, hunters fighting its removal.
Concussive shot, as I mentioned, was a staple of the hunter tool kit. The community fought for it and blizzard realized that it is something that should not be removed or turned into a glyph. Chalk one up for the good guys.
But seeing what was targeted during the mists beta leaves me worried about what could be targeted during the warlords beta. Will blizzard once again go after abilities that are not part of the problem like they did with eyes of the beast, immolate trap and concussive shot?
There are a few abilities I can see being put on the block right off the bat that I would not really like to see go.
Snake Trap: Lets face it, with the exception of a short time during the mists beta where snake trap was a huge DPS increase to use it has been a mostly useless trap. Used more for PvP to get people to accidentally target a snake when they tab, maybe, more than for their damage, snake trap like immolate before it only filled the role of a trap a hunter would throw when there was down time. However, it has some uses, even if most hunters would not even notice it. I don't think, check that, I know, I would have never been able to solo bloodlord mandokir without it when I first did.
See, that is the perfect ability to fit into the tool kit. An ability that has occasional and rare uses but it is not part of the standard rotation. It is not part of the bloat problem. While you can argue that its extremely limited use means it can be removed I can also argue that because of its extremely limited use it is not part of the problem and should be left alone.
Scare Beast: With the exception of the occasional druid in PvP that I surprise by casting a fear on them and get them wondering how the hell a hunter feared them the uses for scare beast are few and far between. I can only recall one use I have had for it over the past 3 or so years and that was at the beginning of cataclysm. Before the nerfs that changed beauty to only have two pups on heroic and cc no longer pulling that fight could be brutal on a group that did not have cc. In one run I was in someone said, "hunter, cc the dogs". I said okay and trapped one, wyvern stun another and cast scare beast on the third one only too hear someone in the group say, "you've got to be kidding me". Outside of the humor factor of it I doubt there were many hunters in the game that would have ever even thought of doing what I did. Scare beast is not exactly on the hunter priority list and I would not be surprised of 50% or more even knew about it.
That too falls into the category of a great tool kit ability. It is something we will rarely, very rarely, use but it has its purpose even if we do not have many places we can use it. So as I said before while you can argue that its extremely limited use means it can be removed I can also argue that because of its extremely limited use it is not part of the problem and should be left alone.
Distraction Shot: Any hunter that has ever soloed, raided, or just flat out played and used his/her brain once in a while has found a use for this ability. Blizzard might just look at it as why would a hunter need a taunt, they are not a tank. I disagree. Even if this is one of those abilities I keep bound in my PvE set, unlike snake trap and scare beast, it is not exactly like it is something I use often. But I do have a use for it.
This is one of those abilities that has a lot of uses, it really does, and maybe because of that blizzard might consider it part of the ability bloat issue just like they did with concussive shot but it is not a part of the problem. Just because I waste a key bind on it doesn't mean it is part of the bloat issue. It is just a rarely used utility in the hunter toolkit and should not be taken away.
Master's Call: This is one of those abilities that I believe every single hunter should have bound and if they are like me have a macro for it to cast it on your mouse over. I have had various fights this very expansion where I found a use for this ability either it be on myself or on others. So being I might, or could, use it in as many as 10% of the fights it might be considered something that is part of the bloat. Part of those abilties I need to use during a fight. It is not, it is utility. I could wait for a healer to dispel me instead of removing a slow or root myself. But why add the pressure on them to handle something I can handle myself.
This is an extremely useful ability and I fear, like concussive the beta before it, that this ability might be on the chopping block during the warlords beta because blizzard seems to love to cut out anything that they think might be part of the problem and if they see hunters using this occasionally, might as well remove it, so it is one less ability they need to use occasionally. No thank you, the time we use it, we need it, it is part of our tool kit, leave it be.
Those are just a few examples of things that could very well be targeted by blizzard. Those are things that should not be removed. And even more importantly, those are things that are not part of the ability bloat issue.
Blizzard just does not understand the ability bloat issue, at least not as far as it pertains to hunters. We like our tool kit. We do not mind having 60 buttons we might use once each raid tier, or even once each expansion, outside of PvP that is. What we have an issue with are the rotational buttons, the ones we need to use each and every single fight, or at least most of them.
Not saying the hunter rotation is hard. It is not really what anyone would call close to feral druid advanced rotation hard, but what is? If a hunter is always hitting something they will do okay.
Let me repeat that for emphasis, if a hunter is always hitting something they will do okay.
That is where the problem is. The fact it feels as if we have 30 buttons we need to hit is not the problem, because it just feels like that, there really aren't 30 buttons to hit. The fact that all the abilties seem to hit for the same amount. That is the problem.
When you can just spam buttons hitting anything that is available and do okay you know there is a problem. The problem is not ability bloat, the problem is ability balance. Hitting the right buttons in the right order at the right time does not seem to be a large enough boost to see a marked difference between someone that just hits anything.
Sure, it would be nice if we had a rotation like rogues or elemental shaman or shadow priests where we have very few buttons and very few mistakes we could make with them but when we hit them in the right order at the right time we can see a marked increase over just hitting them in any order.
Blizzard scares me talking about ability bloat, it makes me think what abilties do I love having as a hunter that they might take away in the name of bloat. I don't want anything taken away, nothing needs to be taken away. The rotation just needs to be redesigned to matter once more.
In the end, this is one hunters worrying, it is me worrying we will end up losing a bunch of buttons, ones we might use only once a year, but things we like to have, and we will be left in the same place we are now, with a rotation that does not reward execution as well as it should when that is where the bloat problem is, not in our utility. I just hope blizzard realizes that masters call is not the problem, the damaging abilities are.