Wave of the Future? No, It’s a Tsunami

May 8, 2008 at 8:45 am (Game Design, Hunter, Pets, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

Enjoy BM now because in WotLK from 70-80 you’re going to want to be MM. That is of course if nothing changes, and we all know with an expansion, everything changes. Actually, there’s only 2 things that could reverse this: more talents/items that enhance PAP or they actually change growl.

Let me tell you about last night.

I went over to IF to respec, dropped my 15g and started down the MM tree. When I hit Aimed Shot, I got all 7 ranks back. I though that was still ‘in the works,’ but I guess not. Nice surprise. To be honest I felt kind of dirty going MM. BM makes being a hunter a real partnership, since your DPS is split with your pet. I consider MM probably the most selfish there is. I picture the soup nazi yelling ‘No DPS for you’ at my pets.

That selfish feeling went away pretty quickly:

You’re welcome for the extra 200 PAP :)

I knew my RAP was going to go up, but a 300 or so point jump was crazy. Now to test. I did my first few dailies without any issue. So much that I decided to do an actual growl threat test. I cast the first 1400 heal, then a Rank 1, and another, and another, and another… I think I got to 10 of them before my pet died because the mob was hitting for more than I was healing. Time to use a higher rank. Just to get a feel for how much growl was helping, I decided to just use rank 6. Same procedure: Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Mend Pet 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, AGRO! Great Turnips! A full 4200 damage healed before pulling agro compared to my previous highest test of 2125~. That would put growl somewhere between 1508 and 1615 threat. I didn’t bother with another test. We’re talking twice as much threat as the best I could do while BM even while popping trinkets.

Theorycrafting is all well and good, but how does it play. When I let my level 69 pet get a growl off before opening up, he lost agro exactly once. It was resisted by a level 71 mob. Folks, this is a serpent. No focus dump. No bonus to DPS at all. It was like he was some kind of catnip for mobs. I only ran into issues when getting 2-3 adds which meant I needed to heal. There’s no stopping pulling agro there, and the huge growl meant, I could open up on the add as soon as it went off even with the higher initial threat.

Downsides? When I started out, I didn’t change my 1:1 macro and had no mana issues with Mark of Conquest and AotV up. The longer SS cast time and lower weapon speed felt really slow. I decided to crank up the damage and throw Arcane shot in there (Auto, Steady, Arcane, Auto, Steady). There were mana issues then and the 6s (rather than 5s) cooldown on Arcane would cause the macro to hang there after the first rotation lowering DPS quite a bit. Enough that it was basically the same DPS as a 1:1. I’m only 10k exp from the serpent dinging 70 which will mean a respec back to BM, but or the next pet I will go for Imp Arcane Shot instead of IHM and let the mana flow where it may.

[EDIT] One more downside – I broke OMEN. The pet would growl and OMEN would only show the 664 threat. I’d crit (or even just DPS) and exceed Kite’s shown threat by more than 30%, at which point OMEN would just hang there waiting for the mob to agro on me. It never did. It would just sit there with Kite at 900 or so and me at 500 with my TPS jumping to 2-3k often and Kite’s staying at 2-400.[/EDIT]

Honestly, it’s going to be hard to go back to BM to finish testing now. It will definitely be the spec I level the remaining pets with. Any hunter above level 40 that primarily solos/levels should consider respecing MM. My only hesitation in trying to get the word out on this is that Bliz could wise up and realize growl still scales with PAP and change it for WotLK (or even 2.4.2 possibly). For now:

Citizens of the Kingdom of Soloing Hunters! The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

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18 Comments

  1. Fearstalker said,

    Hmmm…

    I am certainly seeing issues even soloing where my pet has issues in the newer content. I think this is part of Blizz’es plan. The whole growl thing is still confusing, especially since Blizz seems to be confused as well. We’ll just have to see what works when 2.4.2 hits live.

    My thinking is that for this new MM solo build the carrion birds might do really well, with the boost to stam, and aoe aggro to supplement growl, it might be quite nice. I won’t be relying upon the pet’s dps, so maxxed stam and armour would seem to be the thing to do (with some resistances as well).

    Once 2.4.2 hits, I’ll give this a shot, and many orges in Nagrand will be sacrificed in the process, hopefully with a talbuk as a reward. :-)

  2. maniasblog said,

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about switching to MM also recently, since I saw the data I was getting on Growl. I’ve only begun testing the lower levels, but it looks like even at level 43 or so the extra PAP will be very, very handy.

    My biggest question: How much does abandoning BM reduce the survivability of the pet?

  3. toque said,

    WoW, i’m trying this right away.

    I totally understand how you feel about beastmaster being more of a team effort with hunter and pet. that’s how i feel too. But i’ve long teetered on the edge of going marks because of its increased utility in heroic dungeons. This might put me over the edge.

    And it totally feels dirty.

  4. Znodis said,

    Very dirty.

    I can’t speak for lower levels, but at 70, the only survivability buff the pet loses is the 9% dodge from Catlike Reflexes. Endurance Training and Thick Hide are still easy to get. I think a few points in Imp Mend would help, offset that loss.

    The pet DPS talents I’m losing are Furious Inspiration (crit => +3% damage), Frenzy (crit => +speed), Animal Handler (+4% hit), Beastial Discipline (+focus), and of course Serpent’s Swiftness. When you really look at that list, what you’re missing are the refinement talents. I think of BM points as grouped into rock(0) vs club(1-25) vs mace(26-41). If you just go all the way in BM, you end up with a very refined weapon. If you only go 20 points like me, you end up with a club. However, by getting TSA in MM, I now have a really huge club.

    My pet went up ~200 AP or ~14DPS. I don’t think that offsets all those talents by itself. In fact, I can tell I’m doing much more of the actual DPS work, but then since it’s the MM spec, I can handle it.

    http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=cVbh0xxZVVikVz0xo

    This is the base talent build. There’s enough extra talent points to diversify it to your tastes.

  5. Fearstalker said,

    baah.. won’t load on my cellphone and blocked at work.

    If there are points available, I’d consider 3 points in Surv for the extra range.

    And if you build the pet around survivability and aggro, so you can do the damage, your pet dps might not be an issue anyway.

    Allthough loosing BW for getting out of CC will hurt.

  6. Eric said,

    I’ve been BM since conception, and the switch to MM was definitely hard at first to swallow. Now, I can’t stand going back BM (button mash is boring).

    The good thing about MM that separates it from BM is that it scales with your gear. BM is great for newly 70s in shoddy gear, it allows your pet to make up your slack. When you’re running in epics, MM scales nicely.

    I’m pushing 2200 RAP and 31% crit. Due to my high crit chance, with 1:1.5, my pet can’t hold aggro. But the mobs tend to die before they reach me anyways.

    If I stick to a 1:1 w/ viper just for soloing, I generally don’t pull aggro. Who needs to do 1k+ dps when solo anyways?

  7. earlgray said,

    First, thanks for all of the research and insight.

    As I understand it, BM is recommended as a leveling spec because it is less gear dependent for its damage, and (traditionally) helped keep the aggro on the pet and off of the hunter during normal solo play.

    Your recommendation of MM seems to be tied to getting PAP past 734 and higher to have growl scale up. The hunter deals more personal damage, the pet does a better job of keeping aggro– everything a solo hunter could want.

    I have a few questions:

    Is there a significant benefit to speccing MM while leveling, before PAP can be bumped up past 734? My preference for BM has been due to less worrying about pulling aggro. Probably irrelevant now that I switched out my poor non-charging bear for a dashing, screeching owl, but I was thinking of staying BM until I could reach that 734 PAP mark.

    Do you have a recommended spell/shot selection when leveling, pre-steady shot, pre-AotV? I’m closing in on those levels, but I’m trying to figure out how to have fun while dealing with the huge nerf to mana regen. (This is now the most painful part of leveling a hunter, regardless of spec– no life tap, spirit tap, mage armor/evocation/conjured water, elemental focus/shamanistic rage, seal/judgement of wisdom. It’s now a tradeoff between being bored drinking water or being bored auto-shooting. I miss the days of using both an arcane shot and a serpent sting on the same mob.)

  8. Znodis said,

    I am right now writing a spec guide for new hunters. Hopefully someone will test it out for me since my time is tied up in the pet review.

    The 734 AP is strictly for level 70 pets. According to wowwiki, the threshold for PAP/growl scaling is given by:

    (28.14 * Pet Level) – 1235.6

    If you mess with that a bit, you’ll see that around level 43 is where the threshold first becomes positive, indicating that in the earlier levels every PAP supposedly increases growl. That’s also about the same time that TSA becomes available and a jump to MM may become superior. I haven’t tested it myself.

    The TLDR version of my guild would be:
    1a) If your pet has a focus dump, do MM from 10-39 to get GftT as soon as possible.
    b) If not, go down BM from 10-39.
    2) At 40 respec for TSA regardless of what you’re doing.
    3) After that either finish off MM or start down BM right away. Either way, you should end up with at least 20 points in BM.

  9. fearstalker said,

    What about something like this?..

    http://www.wowhead.com/?talent=cVbh0tZVybRVzMeot0h

    With the reduction of the pet damage, I don’t see Frenzy being as useful, but a point in mend-pet can help it stay up while you are dpsing away…

    thoughts?

  10. Znodis said,

    Wasn’t that long ago that Frenzy was as important to BM as Serpent’s Swiftness is now. There’s lots of room for trial and error and personal preference. 30/31/0 or 20/41/0 or 7/42/12 I think anything will work so long as you have TSA.

  11. fearstalker said,

    and how would a BBLR fit in?.. finally found one and bought it… (but not equipped yet)

  12. Znodis said,

    Geh. Now you’re talking shot rotations. I never paid much attention to them since I was BM4Life and always wanted a 1:1. Honestly, if you don’t know enough to do gear and shot rotations to do them yourself (and only a few really do), use the spreadsheet. That’s what I do.

    http://forums.tkasomething.com/showthread.php?t=8616

  13. Bobo & SgtPork said,

    Hi, Znodis, sorry for the late comment, but I can’t find an answer to a question about this spec: Does Imp Hunter’s Mark apply to the pet’s AP? Thanks!

  14. Znodis said,

    That was one of the first things I found. While IHM does give a bonus to damage, it does not give a bonus to growl.

  15. Bobo & SgtPork said,

    Ah, too bad :P Still, I was thinking, for solo MM, about subbing Imp Mark for Imp Arcane? What do you think?

  16. Znodis said,

    Depends on how often you’re using Arcane. If you’re putting it in your shot rotation macro, the 5s cooldown is a huge improvement over 6s, and in PvP that second can make a huge difference.

    If you’re just casting it once in a while, IHM will probably be a more consistent improvement.

    Running without IHM, I don’t even bother putting the red arrow up anymore to save a bit on mana.

  17. Bobo & SgtPork said,

    Excellent feedback! TY! I’m looking at a solo PvE spec, and I usually use arcane as a finisher on mobs that run. So, I think I’ll be better off with IHM. Thanks Znodis!

  18. Pike said,

    I couldn’t bring myself to spec out of BM I think. I’m far too in love with Serpent’s Swiftness and the 1:1 shot rotation that makes me feel like I’m a machine gun. Anything else would really, really drive me insane. =(

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