Last (and possibly least): a look at the tier 17 Survival set bonuses. I'm sorry to say that they're not quite as impressive as the BM or MM set bonuses. Between when Blizzard released the t17 bonuses to test, and when I got around to writing this, the SV 4-piece bonus received a fairly significant buff, indicating, I think, that they at least are aware that the set bonuses were fairly lackluster. It seems more than possible that these set bonuses might change again before long, but just in case they don't, I thought I'd go through how they're looking right now.
With the increased (even after the last round of nerfs) daage of Black Arrow, you can't quite delay BA until right after you cast an Explosive Shot. Though, around when there are less than 2 seconds left on the CD of ES, it does become (most likely, still RNG to factor) worth it to delay BA until right after the Explosive Shot.
Other than that situation with Explosive Shots, Black Arrow is going to be at the top of our priority list, including keeping Serpent Sting up (though there shouldn't be any occasion where you have to choose between the two).
The other area this really affects is your opener. Just like we used to pre-casting Ice Trap, the 2-piece gives us a chance to force proc LnL on our opener, while all of our trinkets and pre-pot are up. At early x-pace haste levels, this does mean we'll have a fairly limited options on the opener. My favorite opener looked like this:
-1 - Pre-pot
-1 - Arcane Shot (must be 40 yards back)
Pull - aMoC (or stampede, perhaps)
+1 - Explosive Shot
+2 - Black Arrow
+3 - Explosive Shot
+4 - Explosive Shot
+5 - Explosive Shot
+6 - Cobra Shot
This opener leaves us with almost 0 focus left after that last Explosive Shot, and we're actually almost out of focus when we cast Black Arrow. Depending on our gears haste rating, we might have to wait a small fraction of a second before casting the last Explosive Shot.
Another option I considered, was if we used GT to begin. We would run out of focus before getting off all of our explosive shots if we used GT and Arcane at the beginning, so instead we'd have to push it back until after the last ES. If we did that, we could either use arcane shot at the +6 sec mark, or a second and a half later after a cobra shot, depending on whether TotH proc'ed or not. However, in this situation, we'd be delaying losing three ticks of Serpent Sting, and the damage from an Arcane Shot and 3 ticks of SS is about 33% more than just a Glaive Toss.
Regardless, the point of all that is, while having a guaranteed LnL proc in the pull might not be as impressive as two back-to-back Bestial Wraths, or that 45% increased crit damage at the end of Rapid Fire, at least it's something.
Out of four 17 - 20 minute training dummy fights, during the fight I had this buff up the least, it's up-time was around 90%. On the other three fights, it's up-time was >99%, which at this point we're assuming is the intended mechanic of bonus. The only effect it's going to have on players is making Multi-strike a bit more valuable as a stat on gear. If we still had DoT snap-shotting, there might be a way to take advantage of the extra stats, but as the mechanics are working in WoD, there shouldn't be any change to our rotation.
Neither of these set bonuses, as they exist right now, look like enough of a buff to bring SV to a very viable place in tier 17. Perhaps these could create some fun times soloing, or using SV in other PvE situations, though. We still haven't received any explanations of the recent nerfs SV has received to Black Arrow or Explosive Shot, so, though it's doubtful, there must be a chance that SV has the potential to do more damage in a way we haven't considered. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that blizzard has sort of painted themselves into a corner, in a matter of speaking. Both of the other Hunter specs' tier bonuses rely heavily on their being a spec CD that they can use. That's been true for a while now, that at least one of the set bonuses would augment a CD. Perhaps I'm too quick to judge, but with SV having no CD or Execute outside of talents, they seem to be coming up short on ways to make effective, fun tier set bonuses.
The biggest help doing all of this testing has been, is I'm finally getting used to refreshing SS with my Arcane Shot instead of Cobra Shot, so my up-times are back up where they should be. It's the little things in life, so they say.
I had a lot of fun testing the Marksmanship tier bonuses. Much like BM's 2-piece set bonus, MM's set bonuses completely change your rotation.
To be clear, that's a total of 35 focus. That means when TotH is proc'ed and Aimed Shot crits, you'll be building focus, not dumping it. During Careful Aim, without the 2-piece when TotH is up, you're better off just spamming Aimed Shots (unless you have enough focus to make it all the way to the end of Careful Aim without running out), because the amount of damage you can do hitting Chimeara Shot and 2 Steady Shots (to get back your focus) is less than the amount of damage you'd do in the same amount of time, just spamming Aimed Shots for 10 focus each. However, in the same rotational situation, with the 2-piece, you'll now be building focus by spamming Aimed Shots. So you'll need to hit Chim Shot on CD, just to keep from focus capping.
Another consequence of the 2-piece is, aside from burst AoE situations, there's really going to be no place in your rotation to use barrage. The ultra high Focus cost is a complete waste during Rapid Fire, despite how much Barrage benefits from the Haste buff, because it's damage per focus just doesn't compare to Aimed Shots with guaranteed crits. Barrage will, however, still be very helpful in helping MM be viable in AoE situation, though it's really not looking like it will be viable for heavy AoE situations anyhow.
Speaking of AoE, I am a bit disappointed to see that while BM's 2-piece set bonus is an incredible buff to BM AoE, MM's isn't going to do anything to help with AoE situations. The 4-piece, however, will at least have some effect on AoE:
This isn't going to be a game changer for MM, but it does mean that we'll be seeing a little bit more damage out of our Multishots and Barrage. In Heavy AoE situatioins, with TotH and Bombardment, we should be able to get some considerable Multishot spam, and start to get a bit more damage out of it. This has the downside of still being very RNG intensive, and you will lack a lot of control, since you won't be able to make the damage go to a specific target, but will instead get randomly more damage to random targets.
I haven't done a lot of testing with AoE coefficients yet, so I don't have an exact number of targets where Multishot becomes more valuable than Aimed Shot. With the 4-piece, during Rapid Fire, that number will go up. That is to say, you'll need your Multishot to hit more targets to make it worth more DPS than the guaranteed Aimed Shot crits, as they will (at a certain crit rating) always be benefiting from the 4-piece set bonus.
In single-target situations, the MM 4-piece set bonus is much more clear cut, of course, and it really doesn't have any effect on our rotation. There may be a slight addendum that it will be even more important to make sure you can spam Aimed Shots the entire way through Rapid Fire (you do not want to be using Steady Shots), but you should be doing that anyway, so it's hardly a change, just more important to do it right.
Another single-target effect of the 4-piece is it will, for the most part, make Lone Wolf your talent of choice in the lvl 100 tier. When those buffs start multiplying together, you'll being seeing unreasonably large crits. From my last logs, I had Aimed shots crit as high as 86,870, and a Chim Shot crit at 144,329 (which, at least for the Chim Shot crit, was about 50k higher than I'd seen before, with similar gear but without the set bonuses). Given that your 2-piece will cause Aimed Shots to be returning a lot of focus anyway, though it may be a bit too early to rule it out completely, I don't see much reason to use Focusing Shot.
Overall, the MM tier bonuses were a lot of fun. There's something really satisfying about seeing those ridiculous crits. Especially if the devs have decided that MM will be a slow, casting type spec. It is a little strange, that I was really upset about the prospect of a two button rotation. But now that those two buttons are Aimed Shot and Chim Shot (at least, during the first 20% of the boss's health) with their monster crits, I'm surprisingly ok with it.
On Wednesday evening, blizzard released the next tier's gear for testing. Hunters now have the Rylakstalker set, with a few pretty decent bonuses.
For BM (I'll get into SV and MM's bonuses another time), the bonus reads:
(2) Set: Kill Command has a chance to reset the cooldown of Bestial Wrath.
(4) Set: While Bestial Wrath is active, one additional pet is summoned to fight with you.
After a few thousand Kill Commands, it looks like the "chance" to reset is somewhere close to 20%, or about one in every 5 Kill Commands will reset Bestial Wrath. I ended up averaging 1 Bestial Wrath every 31.8 seconds, which is a pretty nice little bonus.
Lining-up Multiple Resets:
When I say I averaged a BW every 32 seconds, that could be a bit misleading. Sometimes I would go through the entire cd of BW, and it would reset the old fashioned way, and sometimes it would reset on the first Kill Command I cast after popping BW. Unfortunately, this is going to make Beast Mastery just about as reliant on RNG as Survival has been in 5.4. however, there are a few things we can do to manage some of those quick resets, and make sure we're prepared to get the most DPS out of them.
The first question that was brought up to me, is should we use the second BW immediately, before the first is over. I imagine the line of thinking here is something like: if we wait until the end of of BW, then we might miss a reset, because BW will be off cd already. So let's take a look at how that would compare.
If our goal is to always have BW on cd when we hit KC, we can accomplish that by simply macroing it into KC. That way, if it resets on one KC, we'll use it fractions of a second before the next KC, allowing it to be on cd again, before the next KC. So it would look like this:
0 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
0 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
6 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
6 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
12 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
16 sec - Bestial wrath ends.
So in this situation, where we received one BW reset right after casting BW, we would have been better off waiting until the end of BW to cast the second, since that would have given us 20 seconds worth of BW, and here we only got 16 seconds. What about if it resets twice in a row? That would look like this:
0 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
0 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
6 sec - Bestial Wrath
6 sec - Kill Command - resets BW
12 sec - Cast Bestial Wrath
12 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
18 sec - Kill Command - doesn't reset BW
22 sec - Bestial Wrath ends
Here we actually did get an extra 2 seconds (we would have only had 20 seconds, again, had we waited until BW were finished to re-cast it). If we continue to play this little game, and look at all the various options on which KCs reset BW, you'll find most of the time, you're going to get 4 or 8 extra seconds of BW by holding off on casting it until the BW that's currently up is over. But, there certainly are some situations where that's not the case, and you'll gain 2 or 4 seconds of BW by always assuring BW is on CD before casting a KC.
I'm having trouble getting Warcraft Logs to work reliably with Beta information, at the moment, so this next bit is perhaps more speculation than fact. You've been warned.
So, when you do get multiple Bestial Wraths in a row, we have a new set of problems. The traditional advice for dealing with BW, is you should pool focus leading up to when BW comes off cd, so when you cast BW, all you have to do is hit KC and AS (and Kill Shot, if it's that time in the fight). This is still just as true in WoD as it's been in MoP (with exceptions for barrage and Glaive Toss). Using BW while you're low on focus, means you're buffing cobra shot (or focusing shot, if you swing that way), which just, well, isn't what you want to use your buff for.
What I found produced the best results, was holding my second BW even longer, hitting a couple of Cobra Shots (and, if applicable, focus fire, but we'll get to that later), then popping my second Bestial Wrath. This allowed me to really get the most out of the Bestial Wraths. Furthermore, if you hit BW a second time right after the first one ends (and you started the first one right before hitting a Kill Command), you'll only just barely have time to get a second Kill Command into the second BW. If you end up running low on focus, and need to use Cobra Shot, you may push the second Kill Command out of the BW buff. The benefit of using a couple Cobra Shots before reapplying BW, is you will then be reapplying it right before your Kill Command, insuring you'll most definitely get two into both Bestial Wraths.
Once I have access to less bugged logs, I'll try to actually run the numbers and some probabilities, to see if I can verify this, but for now, I feel pretty confident about it.
2-Piece w/ Barrage
This also plays pretty well with barrage. Because Barrage has that super high focus cost, it can be a bit difficult to use without delaying your Kill Command, however, if you use it while in Bestial Wrath, What I've found gets the most out of my BWs, is hitting my normal Kill Command and Arcane spam, and then on the very last GCD of BW, use barrage. This gives you the half focus price, without having to use a big long channel in the middle of BW.
Though as I mentioned above, I'm not completely trusting my logs at the moment, it does appear that Barrage is not snapshotting damage. So if you cast Barrage on the last GCD of BW, you'll only have one second of buffed Barrage hits, not the full 2.X. So if you do end up with a string of multiple Bestial Wraths in a row, I don't think it would be wrong to cast Barrage on CD (instead of waiting until the end, so long as you can insure that you aren't delaying Kill Command.
Focus Fire Glory
I am loving the new Focus Fire. While in the past, Focus Fire has been more of a Focus Regen kind of cd, that you really just use during the dull points when you're going to cast a few Cobra Shots; now it has become a monster DPS cd. I don't have enough numbers to say so definitively, but it's looking like the AP bonus to FF is going to be enough to make stacking it with BW more valuable than having five stacks of frenzy on your pet during BW. The real reason I love it so much, is after testing a lot of Marksmanship, I'm just so bored with cast times. Cutting down the cast time of CS 66% of the time is just awesome.
Without the 2-piece bonus, the best way I've found to use Focus Fire, is make sure you want to hold your frenzy stacks so you have five, 10 seconds before BW comes off cd. If you can use it 10 seconds before BW, then you'll have 10 seconds of increased focus regen, and 10 seconds for your pet to build back up a few stacks of frenzy, in addition to having the AP buff all the way through Bestial Wrath. Then I can generally use it again after BW, so long as I have at least around 35 seconds left on my BW cd timer.
I did once, while testing, have the problem where frenzy ran out of time before building another stack, so I lost my four stacks. Because of this, I'd say it's still worth while to have a decent Weak Aura or Tell Me When set up, so if it's within about a second of falling off, you can use up whatever amount of stacks you have. Even if it's for a smaller AP/Haste buff, it's better than nothing.
With the 2 piece set bonus, there's really no way to plan out your Focus Fire uses, since you, for the most part, have no idea when you're going to be getting your next Bestial Wrath. It's not too bad though. For one thing, having 5 stacks of frenzy is still a pretty decent buff during Bestial Wrath, so as on live, you'll still never want to cast focus fire while in BW, as it's a very wasted GCD, and you're already getting some benefit from having the frenzy. If I do get a couple of Bestial Wraths in a row, I will use FF right after the first one, then hit a Cobra Shot, before reapplying BW.
There's really not much going on with your 4-piece. It doesn't affect your rotation really. One consideration might be that because it will lose up-time when it bugs out, you'll want to switch targets before casting BW, but that's something we all should have been doing anyway. Bendak over at Eyes of the Beast found the summoned pet wasn't doing any basic attacks, it was only doing melees. Which means we don't get a lot of DPS from it. Basically, a lack-luster bonus, even if it is cool to see a second pet up there. With the huge rotational change in the 2-piece bonus, I think we'll be ok without getting much out of the 4-piece.
I am getting more excited about having to play BM for another xpac. The Focus Fire buff is interesting and fun. That two piece set bonus, even if I'd prefer a lot less RNG, it's pretty cool. I was loving seeing constant bit red pets smashing the boss's face in. I haven't tested the SV or MM changes, but they're looking fairly interesting also. I'll try to post my thoughts on those set bonuses early next week.
For anyone who made it all the way through this fairly long post, tomorrow is my birthday. I'll most likely be off line for a bit this weekend. While I do love beta testing, and especially testing hunter abilities, it's not exactly what I think of as a fun birthday activity.
I've seen a few explanations of how multistrike affects your damage, and each time I was left a bit unsatisfied. So, as perhaps can be expected at this point, I decided to try to give it a shot, and really spell it out as clear as I can.
Multistrike - gives most abilities up to two separate chances to hit their original target an additional time for 30% of the original amount in PvE.
Just as a little side note here, to make things a little bit clearer, from this point forward, I'm going to refer to one of the 30% damage shots following your main shot as a "multistrike", and i'm going to refer to the stat as "MS" ("MS%" or "MS Rating").
The trouble in understanding that, is it doesn't really explain how much of a damage increase each % of multistrike gives you. However, with a little bit of algebra, we can convert this to a bit simpler to understand function.
To start off, the number of multistrikes you average per shot will be a simple function of the MS%. If you have, for example, 20% MS, then you have have a 36% chance of getting at least 1 multistrike for any individual ability you use; that is to say, if you fire 100 arcane shots (which do 5000 dam each, we'll get to that later though), you'll get (on average) 36 of those to proc at least one multistrike. In addition to that, you have a 4% chance of getting 2 multistrikes off of any individual ability. So of those 36 multistrikes (proc'ed off of a hundred abilities), 4 of them will will have partners, bringing our total up to 40 multistrikes out of every 100 abilities. Of course, that's the same thing as saying you'll average .4 multistrikes per shot, if you have 20% MS.
Then, because each of those multistrikes do 30% as much damage as the original shot, in our little example here we can go ahead and multiply that in there. If we have 100 arcanes doing 5000 damage each (500,000 damage total), and then we'll have 40 multistrikes which will do .3*5000 damage, that brings us 560,000 damage, a 12% increase in damage. And that's the number we're really interested in. For 20% MS, we get a 12% increase in damage.
The function which explains that for any given MS% or ability's damage is:
Total Damage = (MS% * 2 * .3 * base damage)
Or we can divide that all by the base damage if we're interesting in just the percent increase in damage:
Increase in damage = (MS% * 2 * .3 * base damage) / base damage
which can be simplified to a much easier:
Increase in damage = MS% * 3/5
In increments of 5% MS, that ends up looking like this:
|MS %||Dam. Incr.|
For those who don't like to think in algebraic, the easiest way to understand that, I think, is looking at that last entry, with 100% MS. It makes sense that 100% MS would give you 60% extra damage, since it will guarantee you 2, 30% extra damage shots. The point of all of this is, 1% MS gives you 3/5 % increase in damage.
There is then, just one more number we need to look at when thinking about the stat: the amount of the stats on gear that it takes to make up 1%MS. As it's tuned currently on the beta (which seems likely to make it onto live, at this point), it takes 66 MS rating. That means for every 66 MS you get a 3/5% increase to your damage. For a 1% increase in damage, then, you'll need 110 MS rating, which is a somewhat interesting number, and not because it's the smallest number that's the product of two different substrings (just look it up), but because it's the exact same rating you need to get 1% crit (which much more conveniently, 1% crit happens to equal a 1% damage increase).
So basically, we have two stats which do the exact same thing. This doesn't mean they'll be of equal worth. Currently there are a few more mechanics which add benefits to crit; perhaps the biggest for hunters right now is the MM Aimed Shot, which returns 20 focus to you when it crits. Another major effect on the value of the stats is the newly introduced Stat Attunements, which provide 5% more of the respective stats from gear. There's also specs like Survival which has a basic, flat increases to Multistrike damage (for those interested, you get more stats from your gear, and you get 20% more damage per multistrike, so in the end you get 1% of MS from less stats, and instead of getting 3/5% damage increase per 1% MS, that extra 20% damage per multistrike gives you a total of .72% damage increase per 1% MS). *Edit* Thanks to dues payer and WHU member Jacques for pointing out that the 20% is not applied to the damage of the original shot, but to the damage of the multistrike.
The last thing I'd like to bring up (which I've already mentioned on this site, but I feel like it's worth reiterating) is that that Multi-strike is multiplicative with with the other secondary stats (except for perhaps haste). What I mean by that, is if your arcane shot does 5k base damage, and you have 25% crit, and 25% multistrike, your arcane shot will not average 7500 damage (which would be 5k + 5k*.25+5k*.25), instead, it's going to average 7812.5 (which is 5k*1.25*1.25). This is because Multistrikes can Crit. So Critical nets you more damage when paired with Mulistrikes, and vice versa. This is also true of Versatility, and for hunter specs, Mastery (on applicable abilities).
Anyhow, after writing this, I'm not sure if I've actually managed to make the subject any simpler, or if perhaps I've made it seem even more confusing. Hopefully something in here will help someone, though.