Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Less on Haste - More on New Trinkets

In 5.4 haste is not necessarily going to be your friend.  Our stat weights will change.  In 5.4 items are being redesigned.  Currently, haste is great because it increases your opportunities for procs to occur.  And if a proc causes even more haste, then it's even more great.  If it causes our main stat to buff, then it's great as well because along with the haste you're doing a rolling and growing snow-ball of damage as your gear improves.

What can proc in the revised Real-Procs-Per-Minute (RPPM) model? Lots of stuff and the same stuff as now, most notably: Trinkets, tier bonuses, and legendary meta gems.  When 5.4 lands in two weeks, we'll want to change a few things.  One thing we'll really want to do is tend to our revised and redesigned trinkets.

I am using two trinkets now.  I have the upgraded form of the Heroic Renataki Soul Charm and the upgraded form of Bad Juju (Gnomes!).  Well these are turning into Renatakai Soul Charm (PTR) and Bad Juju (PTR).

You can see one difference if you look closely.  The duration of the effect is 20 seconds now for both, which is a nice size duration and makes the soul charm quite good.  But the PTR forms are coming in at half that duration; They have 10 second durations.  The soul charm still gets up to the same buff.  It gets better every second instead of every two seconds, but it will have less output and be more difficult to get a couple large shots in or anything big at its peak.

There are a few things that isn't listed in tooltips.  First, the Real Procs Per Minute have a "may the odds be ever in your favor" unlucky-streak balancer.  If you haven't gotten a proc in a certain time it buffs and buffs your chances until you're guaranteed to.  Overall, this works out to be a 9% bonus to your chance to proc.  The second is, that on a boss pull, they're putting you high up in that chance so you'll get a proc early in a boss pull.  The third is that most of the chances for procs are nearly doubling.  The Soul Charm currently will have on average 0.62 RPPMs which is becoming 1.21.  And my Voodoo Gnome Generator is going from 0.55 RPPMs to 1.10 RPPMs.

These are just two common RPPM examples.

All this means is that if you had been following along and stacking Haste as you got more RPPM items then you will not see as much benefit from that Haste as you do now.  The trinkets are half as good and double as good and a little juiced.  If you hadn't been stacking Haste before then you probably will notice nothing at all.  If you had been then you'll notice a DPS decline.

For more on the RPPM changes check out Lore's posts in this thread.

What can you do?  Get one of the new crop of 5.4 trinkets ASAP.  They are mind-blowingly good.  They seem to go counter to everything we've seen from Blizzard.  They give cleave opportunities from non cleave shots.  They act as partial readiness abilities.  They are generally amazing.  Here is our list:

Hunter Damage Tweaks

Arcane Shot
This tweak to Arcane Shot looks a little better.  Previously they increased the damage and focus cost.  Then when people complained that the shot would compete against the signature shots they dropped the damage buff down, such that it was a nerf when represented as damage/cost.  I'd like to see them drop the focus cost a bit too.  It's totally selfish I suppose, but the focus change will screw up everyone's rhythm.

Arcane Shot additional damage increased by 21%.

Lynx Rush
This is very good news for this forgotten talent.  aMoCs was buffed for loss of readiness.  Blink Strikes was already powerful.  Lynx Rush was already the poor choice and hadn't received any increase from the loss of readiness.  AP scaling and damage increase sounds like a nice buff.

Lynx Rush damage and AP scaling increased by 30%.

Signature Shots
And then we have some nice to finally see signature shot buffs.  KC looks decent.  Aimed Shot looks weak.  Explosive Shot seems behind KC by a lot even if LnL was frequent.

Kill Command base damage increased by 33% and AP scaling increased by 16%.
Aimed Shot weapon damage increased by 12.5% and additional damage reduced by 2%.
Explosive Shot damage and RAP scaling increased by 8%.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Deterrence in 5.4 will be a Minute Longer CD

The way charges work with Deterrence, the cooldown seems very similar to 5.3 until you try to use Deterrence a fourth time.  Then each time you want it, it's an extra minute or two.  There wont be Readiness to finesse through the issue.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Glyphs on the PTR

I loaded up the latest PTR last night.  Unfortunately, it took a while to download so I didn't have much time to play with things.

Kheldul couldn't find either of the new major hunter glyphs.  On the PTR there is a vendor in Throne of the Four Winds that sells glyphs. He had some shaman things but neither of the new hunter glyphs.  I've been checking the AH but no love there of course.  I also created a new level 90 hunter, thinking that he might have the new glyphs.  Interestingly he had all the glyphs learned except the two new ones, so that makes me suspicious.  Maybe they were ripped out because they realized how badly designed they are.

I did some playing around with the new amp'd-up Mend Pet.  The redesigned major glyph is much better than they had it when I tried it a month ago.  Originally, it was broken and of no value.  (It healed 25% in just 5 seconds.)  Anyway, it now heals the pet for 50% of the pet health over 10sec, instead of the normal 25% of its health over 10secs.  The way it works is the HoT ticks every second for 5% health.  Unglyphed it ticks for 5% health every two seconds.  The Glyph of Mending will be in every Pet-Tanker's list of must-haves.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PTR Gold Proving Grounds

This isn't hard, but the mechanics aren't too forgiving.
Play with your sound on.  You're given instructions.
All your gear gets scaled down.  Waaaay down.
The mobs don't damage you at all, but you can't stand idle.
CC is useful.
I want to try the tanking one as a hunter, but I imagine it will be tough.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What We Lack in 5.4 from a Loss of Readiness

There have been a whole slew of changes to hunters for 5.4.

Readiness is gone.

We got a new Stampede in PvE as a dps cooldown.  And some shots got a buff.  So our overall damage may be the same or up or down.  It's still TBD.

But our defensive bonuses that could be helped with Readiness are a bit hosed.  We get a lot less Deterrences even though there's a charge (our CD will be a full minute longer).  We have a lower CD on Disengage which is great, but can't chain them.

There are many offensive bonuses from Readiness.  Murder of Crows is getting buffed +40% damage, but you can't readiness with it.  (Really the CD and focus cost should just be reduced.)  Overall MoCs looks like a wash.  (Some call it a nerf but it really depends on how long the fight is and how long the boss is at less than 20%.)  That said, Lynx Rush is at the same talent choice level as MoCs and it didn't get any damage buff.  It was already behind, so I don't see it ever being taken without some sort of change to it.

Back to back Rapid Fires need to be balanced in the add-extra-damage review. I had expected them to add to the duration and/or cut from the cooldown.  But there was no change there.

There are other short-falls from removing Readiness.  There are many 15 and 30 second cooldown abilities that you could hit, readiness, and recycle through immediately for burst.

Another loss is Exhilaration.  It needs a buff right now, but without Readiness it can't be used twice.

Master's Call isn't reset-able.  And of course one of the biggest losses for PvP is no more Bestial Wrath.

I don't miss Readiness.  But I do think many of these other abilities should be adjusted with charges, longer durations, and/or shorter cooldowns.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

5.4 Trailer

New Glyphs Make Me Nuts

I really wish I knew what these major glyphs are supposed to do.  Their descriptions make them seem completely worthless, but yet they shouldn't be since they are our new major glyphs.

Glyph of Enduring Deceit.  While we're camouflaged, we take 10% less spell damage.  That might be nice, and I might not grasp the finer points here.  But.  But... don't we fall out of camouflage when we take damage... and can we enter camo while in combat?  I honestly don't recall since it is far less a PvE ability.  But if we can't, then it would mean we'd never get advantage from it in PvE and in PvP it would help with one AoE spell (since we can't be directly targeted) and really it would just be one tick of AoE which would be quite light anyway.  So... uh.  What is this major glyph supposed to do for us?

Glyph of the Lean Pack.  Umm.  We have a personal-only pack and a large pack.  And we can glyph it to make it larger, via a minor glyph.  What purpose is this major glyph? If it really is incredibly situational, what's the situation?  The best people can come up with is for PvP when you want to move a small group fast but not stun others.  But there are a whole bunch of actually good major PvP glyphs that would make this absurd to use.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Making Hunter Aspects Great in WoW 6.0

Current State
The current state of Hunter aspects is meager.  There is not a clear need for them.  We have our Hawk/Iron hawk attack aspect and we have travel aspects that are not normally of any use during PvE or PvP encounters.  We also have an aspect we can glyph for: Aspect of the Beast.  It would be a fairly simple matter to get rid of aspects; Hawk could be our default baked-in state and the remaining travel "aspects" could just be spells.  There isn't a need to toggle off Hawk while in a travel state.  This makes me sad.

In the past, we had other aspects which made choosing an aspect meaningful.  We had Aspect of the Fox.  We had Aspect of the Wild.  And long ago, we had Aspect of the Monkey.  Aspect of the Wild provided a large amount of Nature resistance as an aura and had a PvE use in about 1/5th of boss encounters.  Aspect of the Fox was short-lived.  It allowed for casting many cast time spells on the move and provided greater focus regen.  Aspect of the Fox wasn't successful as a design because people macro'd it into Steady Shot or Cobra Shot and then macro'd in a switch to Aspect of the Hawk before signature shots.  This was a predictable automated form of "aspect twisting" and not in any way desirable, so it was retired and SS/CS were redesigned.  Aspect of the Monkey was an early defensive CD hunters got long ago.  You could flip to Monkey mode and it greatly increased your Dodge percentage.

General Principles
I believe hunter aspects are an interesting part of being a hunter, but they should be meaningful again.  I believe aspects should allow a hunter to make a choice in their gameplay that doesn't require a re-spec or re-glyph, and which can be chosen while in combat.  I believe aspects shouldn't be something that is switched to often and should be a manual effort, such that they don't make sense to do within any form of rotation or regular activity.  Generally, I believe hunters should want to be in their normal Hawk aspect because when they are not, they should not be able to do as much damage.  Each hunter specialization should provide access to one unique aspect to increase specialization identity.  Glyphs affecting aspects should be changed.  Level 45 talents should be tailored to improve a particular aspect.  Only one aspect can be active at any time.  And finally to reduce aspect twisting, there should be a minimum three second cooldown on changing aspects.

Kheldul's New Hunter Aspect Dream Lineup
Hunter aspects can be great.  Below, I start with the basics and work my way up to the specialization-specific aspects.  Your comments and ideas are definitely welcome.

Aspect of the Pack
Party and raid members within 40 yards take on the aspects of a pack of cheetahs, increasing movement speed by 30%. (No daze effect exists anymore.)  Imposes a 3 second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Cheetah
Removed.  (A personal travel aspect is no longer required.)

Aspect of the Hawk
The hunter takes on the aspects of a hawk, increasing ranged attack power by 35%.  (Not being in this aspect will greatly diminish your damage output.) Imposes a 3 second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Prowl
The hunter takes on the aspects of a stealthy cat and becomes untrackable.  (Previously known as the rarely used Aspect of the Beast.)  Movement speed is reduced by 40%.  If the hunter is under the effects of Camouflage, their movement is in stealth. (Folds a Glyph-for-only ability into a situational ability.)  Imposes a 3 second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Spirit
The hunter takes on the aspects of the natural interdependent web of life, increasing his and his pet's health regeneration by an additional 2% every 2 seconds.  Imposes a 3 second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Protector
Party and raid members within 15 yards of the hunter take on the protective aspects of the turtle, reducing damage taken by 20% but also reducing movement speed by 40%. This aspect may be used until canceled, but has an activation cooldown of two minutes and imposes a 3 second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Monkey
Available only to Survival hunters.  The hunter takes on the aspects of a monkey, reducing the cooldown of Counter Shot by 12 seconds, increasing agility by 10%, and increasing dodge by a total of 10%. (The agility increase should always be worse than the Aspect of the Hawk RAP increase, including when under most proc effects.)  Imposes a ten second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Beast
Available only to Beast Mastery hunters.  The hunter loses themselves in their pet acting as one, taking on all aspects of the current pet, improving all forms of pet damage by 40%, and increasing run speed by 30%.  If the pet dies, the hunter is stunned for five seconds. (The hunter mounts the pet like a vehicle and controls all pet abilities similar to the old spell Eyes of the Beast.  Tenacity pet abilities like Taunt should work on bosses.) Imposes a ten second aspect-wide cooldown.

Aspect of the Eagle
Available only to Marksmanship hunters. The hunter takes on the aspects of an eagle, increasing ranged attack power by 50% but increasing all damage taken by 10%. (A glass cannon that will irritate theory-crafters.) Imposes a ten second aspect-wide cooldown.

Comments and ideas welcome!

Friday, August 9, 2013

RPPM Changes Will Change Our Stat Priority

I haven't gone through all the changes and how items are being "re-balanced".  (I'm still catching up on things since my vacation.) This affects the performance of my RPPM gear, the value of prepotting, and all the gems, reforging, and some enchants.  In a nutshell, this is a rather huge change.  Haste will not be as good.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
There are some further changes to the RPPM system in development that we'd like to share with you. As you know, RPPM is something we've been doing a lot of iteration on, and we have another iteration that should be hitting the PTR soon:

As you may know, RPPM proc rates typically scale with haste. This was done because historically, attacking faster meant you had more chances to proc something, so got more procs, and we wanted to preserve that effect. However, most procs before RPPM were such that either their effect didn't also scale with haste, or their proc rate was predominantly limited by an ICD. Many of our RPPM effects thus far have had neither of these limitations, such that they effectively 'double-dipped' on haste, benefiting twice from it. In some extreme cases, the proc was designed such that they actually triple-dipped.

As RPPM effects have become more wide-spread and more impactful, this has caused a variety of problems. Primarily, it has skewed stat balances toward haste rather significantly. It's also a compounding problem where many of these procs stack multiplicatively with each other, causing insane burst when all of these procs go off together. That can be fun, but also raises the skill cap on your performance, and makes gearing choices more restricted to ones which stack together optimally.

For 5.4 we're going to change both new and existing RPPM procs to not double-dip on haste. Benefiting once from haste is fine and expected, but not twice. For example, suppose you have two hypothetical procs, Flamekissed and Villainy:
Flamekissed's proc rate scales with haste, and its effect says "Chance on hit: Deal 500 additional fire damage". This is fine, because only the proc rate scales with haste; the effect doesn't.
Villainy's proc rate also scales with haste, and its effect says "Chance on hit: +5000 Agility for 20sec." This is not fine, because both the proc rate and the proc effect scale with haste. The more haste you have, the more attacks you do in that 20sec period which benefit from the increased Agility.

If both the rate and effect of a proc scale with haste, we're going to remove the haste scaling from its proc rate. In these cases, we'll compensate for an expected amount of haste by increasing the base proc rate. For any procs whose effect does not scale with haste, their proc rate will continue to scale with haste as before. However, we're also revisiting the proc rate tuning on all existing procs that were made overbudget due to the addition of Unlucky Streak Prevention (which ends up increasing effective proc rate by 9%). These changes should bring RPPM procs back to being on-budget and tied with traditional ICD procs in value.

This will obviously have a noticeable effect on most players performance; don't panic. We're going to be adjusting damage/healing/tanking performance with these changes in mind.

These RPPM changes should make it to PTR soon, and you'll be able to find the exact changes to each such effect there. We now show RPPM proc rates in the tooltip of the effect, which should make it easy to find.


However, we recognize that not everyone likes the RPPM gameplay, and are going to greater lengths to provide alternative options in Siege of Orgrimmar. In addition to RPPM-based trinkets, there will be trinkets that use the older internal cooldown (ICD) method, as well as a few on-use trinkets if you'd prefer to have an even greater degree of control over when your trinkets are active. There's even a couple trinkets with completely passive effects.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Interesting Weapons in 5.4

There is a BoA raid weapon drop with the horde graphic which drops off of Garrosh Hellscream.  Yeah, BoA.  MMO Champion has some indication that it may scale to character level 100.

Then there are new "warforged" items and "flexible" items.  Flexible corresponds to the new Flex Raid type.  Warforged is the new label for Thunderforged.   This one looks tasty... especially when upgraded to i580.

Nice To Hear

From Lore:
Long-term (ie: not for 5.4), we will be making some bigger changes to the Hunter class. It may not be a full class revamp (like the Warlock revamp in 5.0), but we do want to give the class a full once-over and make sure that the specs feel different and unique. We are not planning any further, class-wide mechanical changes for 5.4.

We have not yet balanced DPS for Hunters (or anyone) for 5.4. When we do, we'll make sure that as much of that balancing as possible is done via signature shots.

By that, I meant that signature shots are going to be the primary target for any buffs to bring Hunter damage up, but there's only so much we could buff them depending on how much actually needs to be done. We wouldn't, say, allow Explosive Shot to tick for 500k just to bring Survival PvE DPS up. Instead, we'd bring up Explosive Shot as much as we comfortably could, and then make minor tweaks elsewhere if further balancing was necessary.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I'm Back

I was traveling in England and Scotland the past two weeks.  I put 950 miles on my rental car and my ability to drive on the left is pretty decent now.  We were in various places in the Yorkshire region, Glasgow area, Inverness, and Edinburgh.  I saw countless castles, pubs, abby ruins, gardens, Hadrian's Wall, tons of armor, melee weapons, and lots of ornate guns.