Sunday, July 21, 2013

Gearing Up Pet Tanking Sets

I re-did the video with much better audio this time.  Click thru for HD and better proportions.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What the Mend Pet Change Means

Over on the PTR a new change was made to the Glyph of Mending.  I haven't heard any reasons or hypothetical reasons for the change.  But here it is:

Glyph of Mending now speeds up the periodic effect of Mend Pet to restore health to the pet every 1 second.
To be honest, I couldn't recall what this meant, so I headed to to get briefed.  Unfortunately, and mmo-champion both have an out-dated definition of Mend Pet:

This isn't the actual in-game tooltip. We haven't channelled our pet heal in several major releases. It is a HOT (Heal Over Time) and has been since Burning Crusade.  The rest is right though.  Here's the real current in-game tooltip:

Specifically what this does is give your pet a HOT that heals 5% of the pet health every two seconds for ten seconds.  So five ticks.

The current in-game Glyph of Mending is quite nice for solo stuff that your pet needs to tank or for say, an all-hunter Flex Raid.  The +60% is multiplicative.  This means that the pet is not healed for 85% of it's life (25% + 60%).  It improves Mend Pet by a factor of 1.6.  Or taken another way, 60% of 25% is 15% so it increases the 25% by 15%, which is 40%.   So we end up with this as a tooltip if we take that glyph of mending:

When we hit Mend Pet while glyphed, the HOT is an 8% health heal every two seconds for ten seconds.  And it's five ticks in total.

Now, let's take a minor detour.  The Glyph of Mend Pet removes curses.  Don't get confused with that one.  It's totally separate.  And if I recall correctly, it's going to be a 100% chance.

The other thing to keep in mind is that all healing is affected by the Glyph of Animal Bond.  It's nice.  But again, not central to the change here.

Now back to the basics.  The blue PTR notes may tell the whole story.  Yes, the new PTR "Glyph of Mending now speeds up the periodic effect of Mend Pet to restore health to the pet every 1 second."  But there is fine print in the tooltip.

"Your Mend Pet now ticks every 1 sec, but the duration is reduced by 5 sec and it gains a 10 sec cooldown."

That sounds like it should be the same heal but it will come in five seconds and we wont be able to hit Mend Pet for another five seconds after that.  So no real change, right?  But wait a second.  Where is our current +60% to the mend pet?  Is it gone?  It's no longer in the tooltip.

I'm currently downloading the latest PTR client but it will be a very long time until it's done.  I suspect that this is just a tooltip error.  Because the spell logic, while very terse seems to imply the +60% is still in there.  (See: ptr vs live spell logic)  If anyone who is on the PTR can check and see if the total healing is still improved by 60%, that would be very re-assuring to the hunter pet-tankers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kheldul on The Full Hunting Party Podcast #177

It was quite fun to geek out.  I'm the big eye-ball guy. ;-)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

DPS Raid Cooldowns Make Hunters Look Bad

Hunters Are Not Great

I love hunters.  I love the current 5.3 mechanics and feel.  It's the best feel in the past eight years.  But we need to face it; Hunters are a stingy lot.  We don't give back to the raid.  We just take.  I was on the Hunting Party Podcast yesterday and brought it up.  I don't think I adequately or perhaps eloquently stated how I saw things.  So this is my second shot in long form.

Healers and tanks are self-less.  We know this.  Sometimes it goes to their head and they become premadanas.  But there wouldn't be a raid without them though.  They have boat-loads of many nice raid cooldowns and personal cooldowns.

The other not-so-lesser DPSers also have very nice raid utility.  They can either do very important things that you need for a raid to work or can even change the nature of a boss encounter or make a particular phase much much easier.  They generally have one or two raid cooldowns, bring buffs, and may also do something special.

Given that we're stingy, self-centered, and non-generous I want to make sure we're not ignorant as well. Let's get educated so we know that a raid leader of a progressive guild is only taking us for our good looks ... and not what we bring to the raid.

Defining Raid Cooldowns

A raid cooldown is something that an individual uses which helps not just them, but directly helps others in the raid.  It might be a defensive cooldown to help others take less damage.  It might be offensive to help them do more damage.  It might restore mana.  It might help them move fast.  Or it might simply be something that is not easy to pigeonhole but greatly helps the raid.

Buffing the Raid

In advance of a raid, or as part of an aura, all classes bring a buff or two.  Hunters are neat here in that they can bring any buff.  If they are willing to run as BM.  What should be recognized is that most all 25man raids have every buff they need (and boss debuff and special ability) without asking a hunter to bring a particular pet.  This is also the case with well-balanced 10mans.  If the raid is skewed and doesn't have a Warlock or Priest or Warrior for fortitude, then a BM hunter can bring a fortitude pet, or the raid can use some scrolls and get almost the same thing.  For these reasons, I don't give pet buffs more than a footnote-mention when discussing raid utility.

If you aren't convinced, play with this buff/debuff tool over at wowhead.  Take pets out of it, and three different classes generally bring a buff.  The special ones are supplied by two different classes.  As far as debuffs go, it's between two and five different classes bring a debuff.  Now quite often it's in a certain role.  But as debuffs go, if you have two tanks of different classes then you usually have all debuffs covered and they're already doing them.

Listing of DPS Raid Cooldowns

This is the meat.  This is probably not the whole list.  Raid cooldowns give DPSers a chance to help others and possibly save the raid.

Fundamental DPS Raid Cooldowns
Smoke Bomb (Rogues)
Rallying Cry (DPS Warriors)
Demoralizing Banner (DPS Warriors)
Skull Banner (DPS Warriors)
Healing Tide Totem (DPS Shaman)
Ancestral Guidance (DPS Shaman)
Tremor Totem (DPS Shaman)
Windwalk Totem (DPS Shaman)
Stormlash Totem (DPS Shaman)
Zen Meditation (DPS Monks)
Chi Wave (DPS Monks)
Ring of Peace (DPS Monks)
Vampiric Embrace (DPS Priests)
Mass Dispel (DPS Priests)
Hymn of Hope (DPS Priests)
Halo or Cascade or Divine Star (DPS Priests)
Tranquility (DPS Druids)
Nature's Vigil (DPS Druids)
Devotion Aura (DPS Paladins)
Anti-Magic Zone (DPS Death Knights)

Often Even More Valued DPS Raid Cooldowns and Abilities
Stampeding Roar (DPS Druids) - can trivialize parts of encounters
Symbiosis (DPS Druids) - can give someone a vital ability
Healthstones (Warlocks) - often good for two uses in a fight
Demonic Gateway (Warlocks) - can change the nature of some boss fights
Hand of Protection (DPS Paladin) - can make it so you only need one tank when everyone else needs two
Heroism/Bloodlust (DPS Shaman) or Time Warp (Mage) (or yes BM Hunters)

Non-Rare and General Utility Abilities
Battle rezing someone to full health and mana
Fearing, stunning, knocking back, slowing, chilling, rooting, and/or attracting adds.
Interrupting enemies like mad twice as well as hunters.
Cleansing/Dispelling fellow raiders.
Healing fellow raiders as DPS.
Taunting a mini-boss as DPS and taking it for a little trip.

Less Valuable
Tricks of the Trade (Rogues) - MD and buffs a person for +15% damage
Fear Ward (DPS Priests) - could make a comeback but not valuable now
Angelic Feather (DPS Priests) - timely to put out

Not Valuable
Shroud of Concealment (Rogues) - can position a raid better at a pull
Path of Frost (DPS Death Knights) - fails with damage
Aspect of the Pack (Hunters) - fails with damage
Misdirection (Hunters) - not needed with tank range abilities and threat generation

What's So Important?

Hunters bring very little to the table.  Our DPS is mediocre.  If we're not BM with the right pet, our raid cooldowns are non-existent.  Non.Exist.Tent.  But what we can do is not special or usable.  For instance a mage or shaman is fine doing heroism/bloodlust and it can only be done once.  Battle rezes are terrible with pets, often don't work, and when they do the person isn't rezed with full resources.  And that's the list.   This is not close to parity.

Ghostcrawler Hunter Tweet:
We are pretty happy with raid utility for all specs. Every class asks for more to guarantee a raid spot.

This is NOT what we are asking for. We do not want a guaranteed raid spot because of some ability. We want an ability so that we can be justified in getting a raid spot based on skill. We want skill to be looked at as the determining factor when choosing between raiders -- not that other classes have multiple raid cooldowns and hunters have none.

I don't want to bum you hunters out. Hunters will be okay. We just have to realize what the scene is like and how much other classes bring to the table.

You can ask @Ghostcrawler why hunters don't have a raid cooldown. If you don't have a twitter account it takes two minutes. If you don't want to pollute your real twitter account, a new one is easy.

Be polite and well-reasoned and of course concise (under 140 characters). He wants to do right by us. We can help him by telling him what we need.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gearing Up for Pet-Tanking

Last week I started gearing up my pet-tanking set.  This week I filled it in a bit more.  The video shows what I'm doing and a little trick that can surprise people.  Click the bottom for full screen and/or HD.

I guess I really should do something with my YouTube channel...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Raiding This Week

We raid Wed, Thursday, and Mondays.  We one-shot all our farm bosses. I got a new heroic ring and yet-another Thunderforged ranged weapon.  (When it rains it pours!)  I also picked up two more pieces of gear that I'll only use for pet-tanking.  The new ranged weapon is nice because it lets me shed some of my excessive hit rating.  Then we hit Heroic Ji-Kun.  It only took us four pulls.  I was at about 210K dps. We had previously had everyone get practice on nests, but this was far too easy for us IMHO.  So we'll be trying a few other heroic modes.

I'll try and have another pet-tanking post soon.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

They Seem To Have Heard

I don't think they got the whole message and whole picture, but they got some a lot of it.

Alright, I have a few updates, followed by a request. Here’s what the developers are currently thinking about several of the issues brought up in this thread:

Regarding Stampede: We’re happy with the damage it’s currently putting out in PvP. For PvE, we’re planning to buff its damage pretty heavily, so it becomes a substantially more potent DPS cooldown. We don’t want to give it any more utility than it has now, for reasons we’ve explained at length already.

Readiness is still under heavy discussion, and we haven’t made a final decision on what we’re going to do with it in 5.4. At the moment, we’re leaning towards just removing the ability entirely and giving the affected abilities shorter cooldowns or charges to compensate. If we end up taking that route, we will buff Hunter damage (most likely across the board, not just specific abilities), but as I mentioned, we’re still discussing.

Murder of Crows vs Blink strike is also still under heavy discussion. Our goal (with all talents) is that active abilities used properly will outperform passive ones. We haven’t decided yet what adjustments we’ll make to achieve that in 5.4.

Scatter/Silencing Shot: We don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory in PvE. If a Hunter would rather not take the Glyph of Scattered Thoughts, there are plenty of other players in the raid who could take on the responsibility.  We like Silencing Shot as a Marksman perk overall, but we’re still discussing things. We may end up making a baseline Interrupting Shot that gets upgraded to Silencing Shot if you spec Marksman.

Speaking of spec differences, we agree that Hunter rotations feel cooler when your signature shots do a lot more damage than other shots, and we’ll discuss that some more. That’s part of the reasoning behind the Arcane Shot changes – our hope is that saving up more Focus for a bigger hit will feel better than firing off smaller shots more regularly.

As to overall Hunter performance and utility, we don’t think the issues are with the Hunter class specifically. Instead, we think that certain other classes are overperforming (in both) at the moment. Fixing those outliers will, in turn, make a good Hunter more attractive for their raid spot. You may have seen some (but not all) changes along those lines on the PTR already.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

How to Fix Hunters

Problem: Silencing Shot is too powerful for PvP
Solution: Remove Silencing Shot.  Yeah.  That's right.  Make hunters the only dps class (and practically only class/role) that doesn't have an interrupt.   Instead make it the hunter's own.  Give hunter pets the ability to Skull Bash.  Make it just like the feral druids get.  This is good because it will make PvP opponents deal with the pet with interesting counters and it keeps PvE alive. 

Problem: Level 30 Talents
Solution: That tier is all about CC now and always has been.  Pull Binding Shot out of MM and put it there with Wyvern Sting and Intimidation.  It's simple and it doesn't give MM an extra form of CC.

Problem: Stampede is too powerful for PvP but hits like a wet noodle and has no utility now
Solution: Since a hotfix during 5.3, Stampede no longer allows pets special abilities, buffs, or special attacks to fire in Stampede form.  This is poor for Brawler's Guild, Challenge modes, Arenas, and other small group activities.  The DPS nerf is quite significant as well.  Keep this utility and DPS nerf.  Instead give Hunters a reason to hit the button:  During the thundering confusion of a Stampede, all damage is reduced by 20% within 30 yards of the pack.

Problem: Readiness is too powerful in PvP
Solution: Hunters need a mechanism to burst DPS because that's what hunters are supposed to do.  Readiness also gives hunters a great deal of flexibility to different situations.  Bestial Wrath is already nerfed.  Lynx Rush and Stampede are nerfed.  Leave readiness alone.

Problem: Arcane Shot is becoming way too big a shot
Solution: Do not further buff Arcane Shot.  Soon hunters wont bother using their "signature shots".  Instead, increase the damage of those signature shots!

I've reposted this over in the PTR thread.  Feel free to sign in there and up-arrow if you like it.

Kheldul Raiding Updates

Kheldul got "lucky" on a coin.  I had worked it out with the number of drops, drop rates, boss kills, coin uses, etc. that Kheldul should have had three ranged weapons by now.  But he was still using his upgraded 496 rifle.  He did have one LFR bow, but the upgrade of that over the gun was less than 0.1%.  But he definitely got lucky as it is thunderforged -- and an actual gun.

Khel also got his 12th legendary token this week and did the epic cloak questline.  It's a bummer that the celestial blessings token gives us +10% to our Intelligence...  It would be a bit easier if it was +10% to our Agility.  In any case, the battle against the blindfolded Wrathion is pretty difficult if you battle everything as one would expect.  I did this and got him to about 10% life but then was done for.  The trick is that you DPS him until just before he summons the molten oozes.  Then lay off and dismiss or already pull back your pet to the platform.  Feign Death.  Wait a bit.  Bandage.  Etc.  Wait for Wrathion's mirror images and slimes to go away.  Wrathion will come for you.  Just blast him down and get your goods.

Kheldul also went on the taming excursion and picked up a fortitude pet, two new colored porcupine spirit beast "challenges", a blue Portent, and a bunch of other useful pets.  Portent was Khel's first tracking pet capture and was kinda neat.

Khel also worked on his "pet tanking" set.  He kept around all his side-grades or good-but-downgrade gear.  It is fairly impressive while gemmed and enchanted for pet-tanking.  He's at over 550K health, with two of the items being otherwise unused Thunderforged pieces.

It isn't currently clear if we're going to continue to work on heroic modes or have some of our raiders change classes for better class balance before 5.4.  If it's the latter -- and it looks that way -- we'll spend our time just plowing through stuff and gearing them up.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Preparing for a Hunter Flex Raid: Glyphs

What is a Hunter Flex Raid?

A Hunter Flex Raid is a specialized form of the "flex raid" which is available in 5.4; The raid will be primarily composed of hunters.  I'd like to say that it would be entirely hunters, but there will most likely be some cleansing to be done for some fights.  The WHU had a few of these raids coordinated during the last months of Cataclysm.   I pet-tanked a few and pet-healed a few.  They are a blast.  Generally, we will want to "over-gear" the instance we are raiding so we will not run these as soon as they are available.

These raids do take a fair amount of preparation for all participating raiders for them to work.  The largest demand is put on the pet-tankers and pet-healers.  But DPSers will also need to heavily prepare.  In each article I will be covering gear needs, helpful macros, critical addons/UIs, pet selection, specializations, talent choices, and glyph selection.

Without further ado...

Glyph Summary and Review

As a normal ranged DPS hunter, I generally use the following Glyphs:
Glyph of Animal Bond - a good +10% boost to our limited healing
Glyph of Liberation - disengage and receive a 5% heal
Glyph of Deterrence - increases the damage reduction of deterrence to 50%

Those are quite good defensive glyphs while in a raid that is filled with normal classes for roles.  If the raid roles are primarily being met by hunters, then we want to look at the other options to better keep us and our pet alive:

Glyph of Chimera Shot - +2% health return from Chimera Shots
If you are playing Marksman, then Chimera Shot can be a reasonable source of self-healing.  This glyph makes it a bit better and makes a hunter with limited healing resources a bit better.  MM is of course currently a large DPS loss compared with BM and SV.  And you may need to be playing BM for the exotic pet.  But if you do find yourself playing MM, this is a solid life-preserving choice.

Glyph of Mending -  +60% healing from Mend Pet
This is a priceless glyph that is required for a pet tanker.  If you are tanking or off-tanking, you must take this glyph.  Further, you must keep a Mend Pet rolling all the time.

Glyph of Misdirection - no cooldown for redirecting to your pet
This is great for a mixed group, but not completely necessary for mainly hunters where we can expect them to drop threat before pulling aggro.  And they can MD to your pet themselves.  But if you are having threat problems this can bail you out.  Also of note: Misdirection has no focus cost.  So if you take this glyph, you can macro it into any ability or abilities that you already have a macro for so that you achieve 100% uptime on threat redirection.

Glyph of Mend Pet - good dispels for your pet, but rarely needed
This glyph should only be used situationally -- aka rarely.  This is primarily a PvP glyph and not for PvE.

Glyph of Endless Wrath - makes it so your pet can't die while it is in effect
This is an incredibly bad glyph to take for a pet-tanker.  While in effect, it causes your pet's threat to be dropped to zero.  Do not take this glyph.  Ever.

Glyph of Distracting Shot - distracts the target to your pet instead of you
This is not useful in PvE boss fights.  Distracting Shot doesn't work on bosses and it wont work to Distract Shot them to your pet either.  If you need threat help, take the Glyph of Misdirection.

Glyph Recommendations

Hunter Pet-Tankers

If you are a pet tanker in an all-hunter Flex Raid, I recommend you use a turtle pet and consider taking these glyphs:

Glyph of Animal Bond - a good +10% boost to our limited healing
Glyph of Mending -  +60% healing from Mend Pet
Glyph of Deterrence - increases the damage reduction of deterrence to 50%

Hunter Pet-Healers

If you are a healer in an all-hunter Flex Raid, I recommend you run as BM with a spirit beast (or up to five spirit beasts) and consider taking these glyphs:

Glyph of Animal Bond - a good +10% boost to our limited healing
Glyph of Liberation - disengage and receive a 5% heal
Glyph of Deterrence - increases the damage reduction of deterrence to 50%

Hunter DPSers

If you are a DPS in an all-hunter Flex Raid, I recommend you consider playing MM for frequent prioritized Chimera Shot heals and consider taking the following glyphs:

Glyph of Animal Bond - a good +10% boost to our limited healing
Glyph of Chimera Shot - +2% health return from Chimera Shots
Glyph of Deterrence - increases the damage reduction of deterrence to 50%

Some DPS will be BM for different BM-only pets.  Some DPS may simply play far better as BM.  And it may work out that we want a lot more passive Spirit Mend spells flying around from Spirit Beasts.  In these cases the Glyph of Liberation should be your choice.

Deterrence Caveat

Clearly if a fight does not have any large unavoidable damage events then the Glyph of Deterrence is not as necessary.  To date, Deterrence has uses in every fight.  Avoiding a large amount of damage is a good idea because we have difficulty healing a large amount of damage.  One must have a cancel macro so after the damaging event is complete you can quickly return to your responsibilities.

Good Reading Abstract from, "Readiness Nerf and Hunter PvE pt2"

The original topic was only around readiness, but there were many very insightful and constructive posts concerning all of the class problems we're facing.  The first thread went to 26 pages and the continued thread is inching up on the same.  Here are some of the highlights, IMHO:

The original thread: