Thrill of the Spreadsheet: Survival AoE and Cleave

After noticing a bit of confusion on when to spam multi-shot and when to use other abilities, I wanted to take a moment to look a bit more in detail at Survival's shot priority in various AoE and Cleave Situations.

The Scope of the Project

For the following examples, I'm using some logs I found of a Heroic geared raider, with no mythic, but two "normal" gear pieces.  This should not represent any sort of best-in-slot gear set, but instead a solid, attainable set that the average raiding hunter might have at this point in the tier.

With that in mind, our goal then is to come up with an easily demonstrable metric for measuring ability damage in various AoE or Cleave situations.  My first thought was to use Damage per Cast Time per Focus per Target.  However, that is not only a mouthful, but it also runs us into problems with an ability like Barrage, which does not scale linearly with additional targets, and with abilities like Explosive Trap, which doesn't cost any focus.  For this reason, we may need to look separately at different target sizes to determine ideal shot priorities.

The Data:


AbilityTick/HitCritAvg./castFocus Cast TimeDam/CTDam/CT/Foc.
Serpent Sting5028.810173.77604.4
Multishot (st)2079.54074.22981.44012981.474.53
MS+SS (st)7108.314247.910585.840110585.8264.64
MS+SS (2t)14216.628495.821171.640121171.6529.29
MS+SS (3t)21324.942743.731757.440131757.4793.935
MS+SS (4t)28433.256991.642343.240142343.21058.58
MS+SS (5t)35541.571239.552929.040152929.01323.22
MS+SS (6t)42649.885487.463514.840163514.81587.87
MS+SS (7t)49758.199735.374100.640174100.61852.51
MS+SS (8t)56866.4113983.284686.440184686.42117.16
MS+SS (14t)99516.2199470.6148201.2401148201.23705.03

Explosive Trap

AbilityTick/HitCritAvg./castFocus Cast TimeDam/CTDam/CT/Foc.
Explsoive Trap (st)867.01755.815753.00115753.0n/a
Explsoive Trap (2t)17343511.6315060131506.0n/a
Explsoive Trap (3t)26015267.4472590147259.0n/a
Explsoive Trap (4t)34687023.2630120163012.0n/a


AbilityTick/HitCritAvg./castFocus Cast TimeDam/CTDam/CT/Foc.
Barrage (st)2687.55610.147971.4602.8316951.0847.6
Barrage (2t)4031.38415.271957.1602.8325426.61271.3
Barrage (3t)5375.011220.295942.9602.8333902.11695.1
Barrage (4t)6718.814025.3119928.6602.8342377.62118.9
Barrage (5t)8062.516830.3143914.3602.8350853.12542.7

Arcane Shot

AbilityTick/HitCritAvg./castFocus Cast TimeDam/CTDam/CT/Foc.
Arcane Shot9481.819146.115306.230115306.2510.2
Arcane+SS tick14510.629319.822910.630122910.6763.7
Arcane+SS Full34625.870014.653328.230153328.21777.6

Other Single Target Abilities

AbilityTick/HitCritAvg./castFocus Cast TimeDam/CTDam/CT/Foc.
Black Arrow5246.510692.770666.735170666.72019.0
Explosive Shot3812.67806.122736.715122736.71515.8
A Murder of Crows4599.69469.8109200.0301109200.03640.0


Multi-Shot Vs. Single Target Abilities

Multi-Shot vs A Murder of Crows The first thing that pops out at me, looking through my spreadsheets, is that I'm still continuously amazed at how awesome a Murder of Crows is.  Not until 14 targets (which, by the way, is why I included that weird line) does Multi-Shot become more efficient than Crows.  That you can take advantage of aMoC's CD reset ability in most multi-target raid situations, it remains an incredibly important ability, regardless of how many targets you have.

Multi-Shot vs. Arcane Shot: For most hunters, the first point you'll be using Multi-shot is replacing Arcane Shot.   Obviously, in single target Arcane is well ahead of MS in damage dealt.  This also holds true for 2 targets: arcane is still powerful enough that on a fight like Twin Ogrons from Highmaul, you'll be better off using two Arcane Shots (one on each Ogron) to keep your Serpent Sting DoT up, instead of applying with SS with Multi-Shot.  There may be some situations where you won't have time to use 2 GCDs on Arcane Shots, in which case, keeping up SS with Multi-Shot is still better than using 2 Arcanes, but delaying Black Arrow or Explosive Shot.

Once we get to 3 targets or more, Multi-shot starts to pull way ahead of Arcane, so we'll always use MS over AS when we can be sure it will hit 3 or more targets.   It's important (well, sort of) to remember that both Arcane and Multi-shot multistrikes are currently re-applying the Serpent Sting DoT.  So right now, there's no reason to take that into consideration as possibly changing the relative values between the two.

Multi-Shot vs. Explosive Shot: With the relatively low cost of Explosive Shots, and the relatively high damage, we won't start replacing Explosive Shot with Multi-Shots until we get up to 6 or more targets (even at 6 targets, it's basically a draw, whether to use one or the other).  This can be counter-intuitive to some hunters, because at 3 or more targets, Multi-shot does more damage than a single cast of Explosive Shot.  However, at only 15 focus, using Explosive Shots will result in more net DPS, because you won't have to spend as much time casting Focusing Shot or Cobra Shots (if you don't have a Thrill of the Hunt proc, you'll have to cast at least one focus regen shot after every 2 Multi-Shots).

There's also the matter of our free Explosive Shots during Lock and Load procs, which leads us to our next ability: "vs. Black Arrow".

Multi-Shot vs. Black Arrow: Even in Multitarget situations, Black Arrow continues to be a crucial part of Survival Hunter DPS.  If we, for a moment, set aside the effect of Lock and Load, Black Arrow on it's own comes in with a fairly high 2019 Damage per Cast Time per Focus.  This keeps Black Arrow as a higher priority ability than Multi-Shot all the way up until 8 targets or more.

When you add in the extra value of a guaranteed 2 free Explosive Shots from each BA, we have an even higher priority ability, which we'll want to keep up as much as possible in all raid situations.  It's worth mentioning, I suppose, that it's also a DPS gain to continue using your Lock and Load procs as soon as possible, in all actual raid encounters we have.   While there is a theoretical point where Multi-Shot would be doing enough additional damage that it might overtake the free ES in value, it won't happen in any raids we have this tier.

Multi-Shot vs. AoE Abilities:

SV Hunters essentially have 3 AoE abilities: Multi-Shot, Barrage (or to a lesser extent, Glaives) and Explosive Trap.  This is actually much simpler than determining comparisons with single target abilities, because for any number of targets, both Barrage and Explosive Trap will do more damage, and have a more efficient Damage/CT/Focus than Multi-Shot.  Because both Barrage and ET have cooldowns, this makes an easy decision for Shot Priorities.

Multi-Shot vs. Explosive Trap: Until this point, we've been primarily comparing abilities to the damage done by Multi-Shot with one, instant tick of Serpent Sting.  This might seem a little odd, but hear me out. If we compare the total damage done by Multi-Shot with the total damage done by Explosive Trap, then Multi-Shot will always come out ahead; however, I because Multi-Shot is spammable, while Explosive Trap has a cooldown, it's going to be more important to only compare the full damage of Explosive Trap with the instant damage of Multi-Shot.  Perhaps there would be some cases where Serpent Sting will get off a second tick (three seconds later) before you cast another Multi-Shot, but it's very unlikely that it will tick for the full 15 second duration.

With that in mind, Multi-Shot moves up our AoE priority list.  As we already discussed here on the Thrill of the Wild a couple weeks back, we should be using Explosive Trap on CD, even in single target situations, so keeping it going in multi-target situations is pretty obvious.  Given that it has no focus cost, it's a very welcome part of the rotation.

Because Explosive Trap has a 12 second CD, which will be increased to 20 seconds come 6.1, it's worth thinking about some alternatives to using it on CD.  Against a raid boss, you'll rarely have situations where you have lots of targets, all the time.  Instead, you'll most often have "add phases", or just specific adds coming into the fight sporadically.  When using Explosive Trap then, if there will be more adds coming into the fight within the CD of Explosive Trap, it will be worth saving it to use on extra adds. On a fight like Twin Ogrons, you'll have to decide between using Explosive Trap on CD, or if you can time it to always hit both of the Ogrons.  If your raid is good at keeping them stacked, you may be able to use explosive trap on both, on CD, but without good tanks, or even during the part of the fight where one has to be pulled away, you'll still have higher DPS even if you only use explosive trap half as often (every 18 seconds), but get its dot on both Ogron.

Multi-Shot vs Barrage: I'd like to start off here with our conclusion, then get to the why later. Barrage is always going to do more damage than using the same cast time (2.89 seconds for the gear set used in the above examples) for Multi-Shots.  The only time when Multi-Shot (or anything) will be of higher priority, is when Thrill of the Hunt is proc'ed, but is about to run out of time.

This next part has nothing to do with huntering, really, but I wanted to include it because I think math is fun.  Feel free to scroll down to the next italics note to skip this part:
The interesting comparison between Barrage and Multi-Shot can be displayed in the following formula.  For N number of targets, where x is the single target damage done by Multi-Shot, and y is the single target damage done by Barrage:

N*x will be the total damage done by Multi-Shot, and 
y+(N-1)*(y/2) will be the total damage done by Barrage.

Our goal then, is to determine if there is ever a positive integer N, where:

N*x  > y+(N-1)*(y/2)

There are several ways to think about this, but it seems to make the most sense if we just look at it intuitively. For each integer N increases, the left side increases by one x (that is to say, for N=1, we have x, for N=2, we have 2x, or x+x, for N=3, we have x+x+x, etc).  For the right side of the equation, as N increases, we gain an additional half y (again, for N=1 we have just y, for N=2, we have y+y/2, for N=3 we get y+y/2+y/2, etc).  So, for "N*x" to ever be greater than "y+(N-1)*(y/2)", x must be greater than y/2, otherwise it will never "catch up" as N increases.  

And now let's get back to Barrage and Huntering stuff:
What this means is so long as the single target D/CT/F of Barrage is more than twice the single target damage of Multi-Shot, then Multi-Shot will never, regardless of the number of targets, provide more DPS than Barrage.

Survival AoE Priorities

The point of all this, of course, is to come up with a Priority system that we can change on the fly depending on the number of adds in any fight.  What I'd like to do here is start with both extremes, and then lay out where the changes happen.  

Single Target Priority:14+ Target priority:
Arcane to apply SSMulti-Shot to apply SS
Black ArrowBarrage
Explosive ShotExplosive Trap
A Murder of CrowsMulti-Shot
Explosive Trap
Arcane Shot
Glaive Toss
Focusing Shot

In between those two, we have several more subtle changes.  This should all be mentioned above, but just to clarify: at two targets, we're still using Arcane Shot to apply Serpent Sting on both targets.  At 3 targets, Barrage overtakes Explosive Shot (when LnL isn't proc'ed) in our priority, but ES remains more important than Multi-Shot.  At 4 targets, Barrage and Explosive Trap overtake Black Arrow. At 6 targets, Multi-Shot overtakes Explosive Shot (non-LnL), so we drop it from our rotation. And finally, at 9 targets, Multi-Shot overtakes Black Arrow.  

2 Targets3 Targets4-5 Targets6-8 Targets9-13 Targets
Arcane to apply SSMulti-Shot for SSMulti-Shot for SSMulti-Shot for SSMulti-Shot for SS
Black ArrowBlack ArrowBarrageBarrageBarrage
Explosive ShotExp. Shot (LnL)Explosive TrapExplosive TrapExplosive Trap
A Murder of CrowsA Murder of CrowsBlack ArrowBlack ArrowA Murder of Crows
BarrageBarrageExp. Shot (LnL)Exp. Shot (LnL)Multi-Shot
Explosive Trap Explosive ShotA Murder of CrowsA Murder of CrowsFocusing Shot
Arcane ShotExplosive Trap Explosive ShotMulti-Shot
Focusing ShotMulti-ShotMulti-ShotFocusing Shot
Focusing ShotFocusing Shot

That is, of course, a lot of fairly subtle priorities to remember.  The most important part, is that when you have around 4 targets, Barrage and Explosive trap go way up in value.  Other than that, all you've got to really think about is when Multi-Shot overcomes specific abilities, which can, perhaps, be more elegantly shown here:

Replace with Multi-shot # of Targets
A Murder of Crows14 or more
Black Arrow9 or more
Explosive Shot6 or more
Arcane Shot3 or more

Other Considerations

There are, of course, exceptions to everything.  You may be in a situation where you have a lot of adds that die quickly, in that case, you of course wouldn't be casting A Murder of Crows, and you may not even have time to bother putting up SS DoTs on them all with Multi-Shot, but instead hit Barrage, then go back to your normal rotation.  A good example of this was in Siege of Orgrimmar, against the Sha, when he would spawn lots of little adds.  You didn't even need to switch your targets, often, but just use barrage, and they'd all be dead in just a few seconds.

These little variations in the number of adds are what really makes SV AoE interesting.  In real fights, you'll rarely be able to simply look at a chart and do what it says.  It's the transition between single target and multi-target, that is really the art of huntering.  If you really want to maximize your DPS, it means knowing when different adds will be entering the fight, and whether or not you have time to use an ability before they come out, or if you need to save it for a more opportune moment. Though hopefully there is enough information above to make those decisions a bit easier.

Hunting Party Podcast with RogerBrown

Today on the Hunting Party Podcast, we'll be talking with RogerBrown, raid leader for Method, and hunter-extraordinaire. For those who haven't seen it yet, he's been working on a series of Mythic Highmaul guides, and I wanted to link them somewhere easy to find.

Stay tuned to Method's Youtube channel for more guides!

Beast Mastery Mastery

For those who didn't see it, there were a couple of hotfixes affecting hunters on tuesday.  The first was changing the combat rating of Haste, which now takes 90 haste rating to get to 1%.  The second was in regards to Beast Master Hunters' Mastery, which brings me to the reason I'm writing today.

One thing that tends to annoy me, is math that isn't elegant, and this hotfix makes BM's mastery really ugly.  The hotfix is basically a 12.5% blanket buff to BM's Mastery, which doesn't seem too inelegant, but the way that works, is we now have an 18% base mastery, and gain 1% increased pet damage for every 48 8/9 of mastery rating.  Yes that's 48.888 repeating until infinity.  While I'm in general fine with the use of rational, non-terminating numbers in video games or other programming, it seems fairly silly when we can only have whole numbers of stats.

Of course, even though there's no way to write a non-terminating number in binary (or decimal, for that matter), this isn't a real problem, because in the actual game, they're still calculating mastery the same way (16% base, plus 1% per 55 stats), and then multiplying that by 1.125.  Even if that makes the problem technically possible, it's still quite inelegant.

I would like to propose, to Blizzard (all of those blizzard employees who read my blog...) that you hire me as Director of Elegant Maths.  Never again will anyone have to suffer such an ugly hotfix.

For all of you who aren't crazy people,  I went ahead and updated the stat conversions pages, both here and on the Warcraft Hunters Union. Remember, this change isn't expressed in the tooltip in game, so if you'd like to check this out yourself, you'll need to head on over to the training dummies.

Understanding Stat Weights

One of my biggest frustrations lately (#firstworldproblems) has been seeing how people talk about and refer to stat weights. While I imagine most of you who read this blog are already aware of what stat weights really mean, and how they should be used, there may be some who stumble upon TotW who haven't done much theorycrafting, or are new to the class. So here, as plain as I can, I'd like to explain exactly what stat weights mean.

Type A:  Greater than or Equal to

One of the more common (and simpler) methods of conveying a stat priority, is through the use of  > and =.  This might look like:

This "stat priority" can be used in a couple of different ways: the first is as a direct guideline for choosing gear, i.e. choose the piece that has stats of greater priority; the second is as more of a holistic way of looking at all your gear, and total stats, i.e. I should have more total of this stat than this other stat, etc..

Both of these methods have some value, but I would argue that the second is much more important. The reason being, the value of each stat varies depending on how much of the other stats you have.  E.g., back at the beginning of this expansion, when everyone was playing Marksmanship, a lot of Simulations (we'll get into the role they play in stat evaluations later) were showing Multistrike as more valuable than Crit. By just thinking about crit, it was obvious that, in a vacuum, any individual point of crit would be more valuable than any individual point of multistrike; however, because our gear had so much crit on it and, as hunters, we start with a higher base crit, it inflated the value of multistrike to the point where each point of multistrike gave us a greater DPS increase than each point of Crit.  This didn't mean, however, that we needed to have more multistrike than crit, just that with high amounts of Crit, we needed to get at least some multistrike.  

To understand why that happens, we need to have a basic understanding of how each stat works.  For more particulars, you can find other articles here with the "thrill of the spreadsheet" tag (like this piece on multistrike), but for our purposes here, all we need to understand is that each stat increases our DPS by some ratio of "Stats to DPS increase".  The next part we need to understand is just a basic principle of arithmetic:  "x*x > (x-1)*(x+1)".  For example, 5*5=25, while 6*4=24.  As all of our stats multiply the damage done by our abilities, they will produce the highest possible result when there is some sort of balance between all of them.

And that is, essentially, why "Stat Priorities" need to be considered holistically, as a guide for all of your gear, not as a guide for any individual piece of gear.

Type B: Numerical Stat Values

The second type of Stat Weights you'll see when perusing guides is numerical stat weights.  They look something like this:

Agi 1, Mult 0.59, Vers 0.35, Crit 0.35, Mast 0.27, Haste 0.19

These numbers are a normalized representations of your average DPS gain per point of each stat. Since that's kind of gibberish, let me explain it another way.

A popular WoW fight simulation tool, called SimC, has a function built into it which creates new simulations of fights adding a different stat to each one, and then averaging how much each stat increases your DPS.  The vast majority of people, when reporting "stat weights" or "stat scaling" are getting the numbers from this tool.  However, there are several other ways to get the same results. For hunters, a popular online spreadsheet app is WoW hunter tools, which has it's only stat scaling function.  Or, if you have your own spreadsheet, you can easily run the same calculations using an averaging system.

The point of all of that is, you add on of each stat, and watch how it affects your DPS.  For example, with my current gear, I average about 5.6 more DPS for each point of Agility I add, or I average about 3.3 more DPS for each point of Multistrike I add.  So if I can do 30,000 dps against the Butcher, if I add one point of Agility, I should be able to (on average) do 30,005.6 dps.  To then get the numbers you see above, I can divide each of my results by the highest (agility), which gives me the "Normalized" results.

There are, however, a couple of problems with this.  The first problem is, these numbers aren't balancing stats. What I mean is, in game, you have to choose between secondary stats.  You don't just get more of one,  getting more of one means you get less of another.  For example, I currently have all Multistrike enchants on my gear.  If I want to get more crit (I don't, but just for example), I can't just get more Crit, I'd have to take off a Multistrike enchant, and replace it with a Crit enchant.

The second problem is while these numbers may be good and fairly accurate, that's only true for the exact gear I'm wearing right now.  With someone else's gear, the numbers will change, sometimes drastically.

And that is probably the biggest mistake someone can make when looking at stat scaling.  There's a popular hunter guide over at MMOChampion, where a good hunter has gone through the work of simulating a lot of different variables, and come up with a good, ideal stat weight for all three specs of hunters.  This is of course a great benefit to the community.  However, people often quote these numbers as though they're gospel, and apply in every situation. If you have the exact same gear (or even pretty close to the same gear) as he used to make the simulations, then the numbers will work great for you.  But if you have different trinkets, or a lot of different gear, then the stat weights for your gear will be fairly different.

Redefining Best-in-Slot

A great hunter theorycrafter, Esoth, recently (well, sort of) sent out a tweet that I really appreciated:

Looking for Best-in-slot gear is fine in the interim time between raids, even good, as it will make you better prepared for the next tier. However, if your goal is to kill as many raid bosses as possible, as quickly as possible, then you should be looking for the best combination of gear that can be found from the bosses you've already killed.

This is true of stat weights also.  Your best-in-slot gear may have certain, easily definable stat weights, but that doesn't mean that you should use that as your guide while you're gearing up. Instead, you want to look for the stat combinations that will provide the most DPS out of the gear you currently have.

When it comes down to it, the only way to get accurate stat weights is to sim yourself.  If that's more work than you want to do, or doesn't sound fine, you will, in the vast majority of situations, be fine using one of the stat priority systems, like those found in the MMO-C guide, or on sites like Icy Veins, or the Warcraft Hunters Union.  It is crucial to remember, though, that the specific numbers are not applicable in every situation, they should only serve as a general guide for how to go about gearing.

Explosive Trap -- Sometimes I'm Wrong

I was recently updating the Survival guides over at the Warcraft Hunters Union, and I saw that there was some disagreement about the optimal use of Explosive Trap in single target fights, when I realized there was a bit of disagreement in the hunter community.  So I pulled up my spreadsheet, and downloaded the latest build of SimC, and set to work.

Here was my side of the argument:  Arcane does more damage per execute (by execute, I mean each time you cast it) than Explosive Trap, so the only time Explosive Trap should be a higher priority is if Explosive Shot is about to come off CD, and you don't have enough focus to cast both an Arcane and an Explosive Shot.  This method uses Exp. Trap as a sort of filler, when you need something to do for a GCD, but are a little short on focus.  However, while I was thinking about focus in a general since, I wasn't looking closely enough about how the focus costs were affecting the entire fight.

Especially as we get into higher gear levels and Steady Focus becomes more and more productive than Thrill of the Hunt, we'll be seeing a lot more of those 40 focus Arcane Shots.  That's a pretty huge focus cost, especially when compared to Explosive Trap (which is free).  After tearing through some logs, and running some simulations on SimC, I've come to believe I was wrong before about Explosive Trap usage, and here's why:

While it is true, in any given instance, one Arcane Shot does more damage than the entire duration of one Explosive Trap, the amount of time you'll have to spend casting Focusing (or Cobra) Shots negates any DPS gain from casting Arcanes instead of Exp Traps.  

For example, in a 7 minute fight (actually, about 100,000 seven minute (give or take 20 seconds) fights averaged together) if I only cast Explosive Trap as described above, I'll end up with about 9 Explosive Traps, and 137 Arcane Shots.  If, instead, I cast Explosive Shot basically on CD (other than when it gets in the way of more important shots) I end up with about 34 Explosive Traps but only 125 Arcane Shots.

So, at the most basic level, I'm looking at a decision between 18 extra Arcane Shots (plus a few focusing shots), or 25 extra Exp. Traps.  At 23596 per Arcane, 12584 per Focusing Shot (which is about 5763 per second), and 19110 per Exp Trap, we've got a fairly simple comparison.

Using Exp Trap selectively:
18*23596 + 5763*7 = 465069

Using Exp Trap on CD:
25*19110 = 477750

And that's what finally convinced me I had been wrong.  Because you can't simply replace the GCD you would have used on the Exp. Trap with an Arcane Shot (since you'll have to make up for the focus cost of the Arcane with more Focusing Shots/Cobra Shots), using Explosive Trap on CD yields higher DPS.

The Lone Wolf Consideration

It's worth noting that these numbers are incredibly close together, and that's because Focusing Shot does some amount of damage.  If you take Lone Wolf (which doesn't have as high of a DPS potential as Focusing Shot, but may be preferable in heavy movement fights), the damage of each Arcane goes up, but, we have to spend even more time casting Cobra Shots, since they don't return as much Focus as Focusing Shot. So in the end, we only end up getting 7 more Arcane Shots, compared to 24 more Explosive Traps from using them on CD; so we still end up DPS ahead by using Exp Trap as often as we can.  

Good Times and Survival PvP

I can't really explain how much fun I'm having playing Survival in arenas right now.  I suppose it starts with the last two seasons of pretty much just Marksmanship in PvP, and then before that in MoP playing pretty much just Beast Mastery, so it's nice to complete the circle with something that hasn't been great for PvP in a couple years.  But there's definitely a lot more to it, a synergy with the new talents and abilities, as well as the other changes in Warlords.

So Much for Reduced CC

Wasn't there supposed to be reduced CC in Warlords?  I feel like that was on of the big changes for PvP.  Anyhow, I'm definitely spending just as much time in unavoidable stuns as I used to, but I can make up for it with some greatly improved CC of my own, in the form of 12 sec CDs on traps. Match that with the 2 piece set bonus, that's 50 additional focus every 12 seconds.  Couple it with Glyph of Explosive Trap for knockback, and we essentially have an interrupt every 12 seconds (or just a really awesome tool for kiting).

Sure, we did lose out on Scatter Shot, but I'm really not missing it.  Instead of scatter trapping, I've just been focusing on better communication with my healer.  Since there nearly always seems to be a Melee on my healer (and let's face it, Ret Pallies, Frost or Unholy DKs and Feral Druids are all looking great), I can just throw a Freezing Trap somewhere easy to run through, and with that extended engagement radius, freeing up my healer is getting even easier.  As for casters, while scatter-trapping was nice and simple, the threat of a trap is often enough to at least act as a great interrupt. They have the choice of interrupting themselves, or eating a trap.

And that's just two traps, I've still got good ol' reliable Binding Shot or Wyvern Sting (though I have to admit, I'm not enjoying the cast time on Wyvern).

I love DoTs

One of the nice little comforts of Hunters before now, is all specs had a baseline DoT in Serpent Sting. After playing a good bit of MM in arenas over the first couple weeks of the season, with no DoTs (other than perhaps Crows), it's so nice to play a DoT spec again. Many times over the last week or two, I've thought to myself something like: "Damn, I thought I was gonna be able to get the kill, but he line-of-sited me" only to be pleasantly surprised when I see DoTs continue to tick them down, securing the kill. Several times I've actually made that comment out-loud, leading to plenty of grief from my healer in vent. :-P

And we're not just talking about one or two DoTs anymore. We've got Serpent Sting (recently buffed), Black Arrow, a Murder of Crows, Poisoned Ammo (or Frozen), a substantial (even if only 4 seconds) Explosive Shot, and the option of Explosive Trap (if it's not glyphed).  I don't care how good they are at hiding around pillars, if I get up all my DoTs, you're not gonna hide for long.

That's really the biggest contribution to my enjoyment of Survival PvP right now. I've never been the best at playing the pillars, so being able to switch my focus from "get somewhere where I can pump out damage" to "get up your DoTs before they hide again" has been a fun switch.

Survival in Ashran

Overall, I feel like Ashran is a pretty embarrassing failure for blizzard.  Set aside the 2-4 hour queue for a "world PvP zone"; the mixture of lack of explanations of the zone and incredibly over-powered zone buffs makes it unplayable for the unsuspecting, and basically god-mode for everyone who knows how to get the buffs.

Of course, as someone who spends as much time studying as I do playing the game, once I pick up all my buffs in Ashran, I am a PvP god. I picked up the Sharpshooting Guide, and paired that with the Disengage Guide (with post-haste), and I can easily hang back 40-60 yards from anyone while doing full DPS to them.  Yesterday while in Ashran I, through sheer luck apparently, came across a half dozen Song Flowers too, which just made things all the easier.  Then, and I actually still don't know where these buffs came from, but I had a 20 minute buff that gave me random procs of huge jumps. As a survival hunter I spend a great deal of my time jumping anyway, but with this, I was untouchable.  I also managed to pick up a ton of those random scrolls, but haven't had a need for them yet.  

If I was facing people without the buffs, I could easily 1v3, probably could handle 1v4 unless there was a good healer in the group (bad healers couldn't keep up with the damage buffs and the heavy movement).  If I ran into a group that all had similar OP buffs, then we'd just move on to other groups, since it took way too long to kill each other.   Anyhow, not how I want my PvP to generally be, but once every few months or so, it's nice to be insanely OP.

A Couple Complaints

As much as I'm enjoying the play-style of SV in general right now.  It still really hurts to not have a baseline CD or execute.  The way it's set up currently, SV would be really overpowered if we got back Kill Shot, but unfortunately, that means a lot of the time we're going to be playing a sort of support roll in Arenas.  We basically seem to be resorting to keeping up pressure with DoTs and focusing on CC, then waiting for the other DD to finish them off.  

Last week I was able to run 3s as SV/Ret Pally/Healer, and SV/Frost DK/Healer. both seem fairly viable (though the Frost DK wasn't quite geared up enough to tell).  I'm looking forward to trying some runs with a Feral Druid and an Unholy DK.  

Unfortunately, there aren't many hunters very high up on the 3v3 PvP Ladder.  As of me writing this, there are 4 in the top 50 (compared to 12 Druids, or 8 Pallies),  2 Beast Master closest two the top, and 2 SV, rounding out the bottom of the top 50.  I'm not the biggest fan of BM PvP, though I might give it a try after I finish my SV set, and can focus more on a different build for BM.  

Stat Conversions & Ability Formulas


1 Agility = 1 Attack Power
110 Crit Rating = 1% Chance to Critically Strike
90 Haste Rating = 1% Increased Haste
66 Multistrike Rating = 1% Chance to  Multistrike
130 Versatility Rating =  1% Increased Damage
260 Versatility Rating = 1% Decreased Damage Taken

Weapon Damage Normalization:
WD + 2.8*RAP/3.5

Global Cooldown = 1 second

Focus Regen

Base Regen = 4 focus per second
Focus Regen per Second with X% Haste = 4*(1+X/100)

Cast-time with X% Haste = CT/(1+X/100)
Cast-time with Rapid Fire = CT/((1+X/100)*(1.4))
Cast-time with Ancient Hysteria = CT/((1+X/100)*(1.3))
Cast-time with RF & AH = CT/((1+X/100)*(1.4)*(1.3))
Cast-time with Focus Fire (5 stacks) = CT/((1+X/100)*(1.3))
Cast-time with FF and AH = CT/((1+X/100)*(1.3)*(1.3))

Mastery by Spec

Base Mastery = 4% Increased Damage, Crit Damage and Shot Range
220 Mastery Rating = +1% increased Damage, Crit Damage and Shot Range

Base Mastery = 8%
110 Mastery Rating = +1% Increased Elemental Damage

Base Mastery = 18%
~49 Mastery Rating = +1% Increased Pet Damage

Hunter Pet Stat Conversions at level 100 in Warlords of Draenor:

Pets Gain:

100% of hunter armor
60% of hunter AP
70% of hunter Stamina
100% of hunter Haste + 10% Attack Speed
100% of hunter Crit + 10% Crit
100% of hunter Multistrike
100% of hunter Versatility
125% of hunter focus regen

Hunter Stat Considerations at 100

Most stats now work multiplicatively with each other.  There are no stats that you will want to avoid all together; instead, you'll want to try to balance your stats, relative to how many extra mechanics they are part of for your spec.  If you sim yourself, using SimulationCraft, or another tool, and get a result different from these for your stat weights, remember that they values will change depending on the relative amounts of each stat on your particular gear.  For more information about the relativity of stat weights, check out this blog post by Esoth.


Beast Mastery


*Note that stat priorities are not significantly tested to provide an accurate answer.  If you see a guide that has a different result than this, that's ok.  These represent the results I got, with my spreadsheet, and the gear levels I tested. 

Hunter Ability Formulas

Aimed Shot4.83*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
Arcane Shot1.265*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
Black Arrow5.06*AP (over 20 seconds)X
Chimaera Shot5.19*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)
Cobra Shot.759*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
Dire Beast.5714*APXX
EM: Incendiary.2645*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
EM: Poisoned.4232*APX
Explosive Shot1.9734*APX
Explosive Trap1.07525*APX
Focusing Shot1.5*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
Glaive Toss3.3212*APX
Kill Command1.672*APXX
Kill Shot7.935345*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X
A Murder of Crows9.75*APXX
Serpent Sting2.816*APX
Steady Shot.8625*(WD+2.8*AP/3.5)X

Note that in game tooltips are not always changed when hotfixes are applied, so they will often show different amounts.  Because websites like wowhead and wowdb use the in-game client information to build their sites, they will also often show outdated information.   I'll be attempting to keep this list updated every time there is a hotfix, though if anyone sees one I missed, feel free to leave a note in the comments below, and I'll get them updated.

SVM and BMM stand for Beast Mastery Mastery, and Survival Mastery, and indicate which shots are affected while in the respective specs.  Abilities marked as Physical Damage will have their damage reduced by the target's armor.