Guild Perks in Warlords of Draenor

This isn't exactly related to huntering, or at least not any more than it's related to any class, but I felt like talking about it anyhow.   On the WoD alpha/beta, players this weekend started to noticed that there were no guild levels listed.  Some guessed this was just a bug, but Watcher got on the forums last night to announce that Guild Perks and Guild Levelling is no more.

For the most part, I'm totally fine with this.   As easy as it is to level guilds, the level means very little.   And most of those perks should be baseline.   I recently started made a hunter on a totally new server; since I didn't know anyone there, it took me quite a while to find a guild I was comfortable joining.  I can't think of any reason why Blizzard would want to reward me for joining whatever random group spam invited me, but unless I do: I have to wait extra long to hearth; and I can't level as fast; I have to pay more for repairs; and I can't mass rez in dungeons, which as a hunter is a pretty big deal, since I can feign death.

Watcher talked about this as a way to combat those people who just levelled guilds and then sold them.  It's certainly isn't helpful to the game to have new players inundated with guild invites from people trying to take advantage of their levelling or cash flow.   So I totally agree that that should be discouraged.

However,  in addition to the two raiding guilds I'm in (on two different servers), I also have a bank guild, with a few friends.  When there are lulls in content, we've had lots of fun levelling it and going for various guild achievements.   We're currently level 25, and we've got 900 (out of a total possible 2XXX) guild achievement points, which isn't amazing or anything, but for a rarely played bank guild I feel pretty good about it.  And it's been something fun to do between tiers.   It's only real source of gold (other than my pockets) has been cash flow, which hasn't been a ton, I'm certainly not making money from having the guild (especially when you consider the cost of all them bank tabs),   but it has been a nice little bonus, to have a bit of gold to repair with when we've run some raids or dungeons.  

Watcher mentioned that they wanted to still have some means for guilds to make gold.  His example was possibly adding more BoEs to raids.  That's a fine idea and all,  but unless those items are Best in Slot, they're not going to sell for a ton of gold, as people generally out-gear them pretty quickly in a tier.   Before MoP, having the purple gems that only dropped from raids were a great way to get guilds some gold, because, unlike gear which will only be an upgrade once, and for one or two slots,  you needed new gems every time you got any new piece of gear.  

For d'enched crafting mats, MoP was pretty decent with the bloods from the first tier, and the Haunting Spirits from the second,  but the Spirit of Wars from SoO were a huge bust.  We've got a few hundred sitting in our guild bank, free for the taking and no one wants them.  even as early as the first month after SoO dropped they had gone from selling for a significant amount of gold, to selling for less than a hundred gold, on our server at least.  

I hope they find a way for non-raiding guilds to make a little cash too.   A big complaint by friends of mine who only PvP is that they have no way to really make any gold by playing.  Where as in PvE you at least make a little gold from killing and looting (even if it's just vendoring trash), in PvP you've still got some repair bills, but don't make any gold in arenas or BGs.   They've started to address this with the boxes you'll be getting from doing randoms,  but I somehow doubt that that's going to be enough to sustain a guild.  

Anyhow, I do look forward to seeing what they'll do.   When they announced no new levels in WoD, I was mildly disappointed, just because it would be something to do.  Getting rid of the system all together and having a new something to do sounds like it could be promising.   As with all of my posts about WoD, I'm afraid this is another we'll just have to wait and see what happens.  

T17 Armor

When I first saw the still pictures of the tier 17 hunter gear, I was very unimpressed. However, I must admit that it looks a lot better with all of the animations going.   I still don't think the belt exactly fits, but at least the fire animations fits with the shoulder fire animations.

I've given up on hoping that Blizzard ever makes hunters look like hunters, since they don't think that would be epic enough.   I probably should have given up on that idea when I first leveled and got to 40, realizing I had to wear soldier gear (mail) instead of wilderness gear.   Anyhow, having given up on that makes it easier to like some of the tier sets. The current tier heroic and normal look cool if you leave off the helm (the helm is cool in it's own way, but too extreme for me).   I suppose if we ignore that a blacksmith and engineer would have had to make this tier 17 gear, it's pretty cool looking.   Especially the shoulders.

Also, I kind of really like the finger-less gloves, which really lend themselves to gripping a bow string or squeezing a trigger.   It would have been even cooler if it was only the right hand that was fingerless,  but I suppose not everyone abhors symmetry the way I do.

TBT: Why hunters are better than every other class

Warcraft hunters union, Scattered Shots, Frostheim's 50 reasons hunters are better than every other class.

A few years ago, as he was nervously watching the changes in the Cataclysm Alpha/Beta builds, Frostheim put out a comprehensive list of amazing hunter attributes, which are still very relevant today.  Some of my favorites include:
  • It's impossible to stay angry at a hunter. We have tranq shot.
  • Every weapon in the game was designed for hunters. Yes, even maces. We give them to our pets to play with.
  • Leveling for a hunter is a joyous expression of our ability to wreak death and devastation. We can run through a zone, tag everything in it, set our pets to tanking it while we grab more to finish off at our leisure. You could almost say hunters were built for leveling, if it weren't for the evident fact that we were so clearly built for doing everything else too.
  • Jump-Disengage. It's like Blink, only awesomely badass.
  • Hunters don't care about threat. In fact, why don't you have it instead?
  • Dinosaurs.
  • Studies have proven that hunters have a higher IQ than any other class. (source)
The original article is still up at WoW Insider, so be sure to check it out if you haven't recently.  Every time I start to get worried about the coming changes to hunters, or that blizzard may possibly ruin everything, I read through this article and the world no longer seems like such a harsh place.  

WoD Alpha: New Corehound Models

Warlords of Draenor Hunter Pets, Corehounds

The good people digging through data over on MMO-Champion have found us some new Corehound models from the latest alpha build.    They're looking pretty good, though we'll have to see them in action to really get an impression of how they'll be in game.

In addition, it looks like we'll be working toward some Corehound mounts come Warlords of Draenor, also.

Warlords of Draenor Corehound Mount

The last time I did an entry on potential new hunter pets, it turned out that the datamined models were not actually new Spirit Beasts, but were actually the new ghost wolf forms for Shamans.   So I have no option but to hope that these aren't also some weird new druid or shaman form.  I imagine with Corehounds we'll have better luck, though.

Top 5 fights of Mists as a Hunter

Over at the The Grumpy Elf's blog,  he's got an entry on his favorite fights, as a hunter, from MoP; and it was so much fun reading and thinking about, that I decided to jump on the band wagon and write a post like that of my own.

In case it's unclear, these won't necessarily be the fights that I think were the best over-all, or the most balanced, or the hardest/easiest.  These are the fights that were the most fun as a hunter: whether fun because we got to use a special part of the hunter arsenal, because they were tailored for hunter DPS, or perhaps something else that made them particularly fun or enjoyable for me, that will be the extent of my criteria.

5. Garrosh
Good ol' Garry Hellscream had just enough unique mechanics to push him into my top 5 list.  Early in the fight we were able to show off our bursty AoE abilities, and of course who but a hunter can DPS Garrosh (leaving our pet on him) while taking down the engineer, then switch back to full DPS on Garrosh without losing a beat?

Add to that getting to save our fellow raiders lives repeatedly, by using distracting shot on the adds that spawn in the later phases (assuming your raid, like mine, did the divide and conquor strat).  This is a great ability that we generally only put to use while soloing or in 5 player dungeons, so I really enjoyed getting to play the hero on a raid boss.

Garrosh's varying mechanics, in my opinion, was just enough to give it a fun flavor, without making it feel like a gimmick fight.  Still plenty of just stand there and pew pew, but way too many mechanics to get boring.

4. Garalon
I imagine this is the one I'm choosing that people will disagree with the most.  When Garalon first came out,  there was absolutely no reason to bring a hunter.  If you weren't a cleave class, you were worthless.   Pets didn't get the leg circle buff, and in general the fight was incredibly poorly balanced.  Very obvious, simple mechanics had to be changed with hot-fixes that should have been fixed on the PTR, long before it went live. However, my personal experience with Garalon is what made this fight stand out to me.

When Mists came out, I had decided that I wouldn't be raiding "hard-core", and would instead hold myself to the limitations of a "casual" raider (as you may have guessed, I fell to a boss who has defeated many the hardcore raider: I was dating someone at the time).  For the most part, that simply meant that I didn't want to spend more than 8 hours a week raiding.   It was harder than I would have thought finding a casual team that I fit in with, so I mostly pugged my way through MsV.   Then, when Heart of Fear had been out for several weeks, I pugged with, and ended up joining a very small, close-knit 10 player guild.   They had been raiding together with 6 of the 10 members since Wrath, and that sort of group was not one I'd played with before in WoW, especially on my server, which was steadily dying, going from a very full server with queue times on the weekends, to a ghost of a server (before Blizzard started merging servers).

I  started playing with this guild when they were stuck on Garalon, which I gather was a common sticking point for casual guilds in HoF.   But what happened was, I couldn't just come in and carry the raid, as I sort of was expecting to.  The thing was, these guys didn't put in the hours to really master their classes; they definitely didn't spend the, perhaps obsessive, hours looking over spreadsheets like I liked to.  But they'd been playing together for a long time, and they were good at playing together.   And that's what allowed them to get through content that most similarly skilled teams wouldn't dream of.

So Garalon perhaps wasn't an incredibly fun fight on its own, I learned a lot about working with a team during that fight, which is earning it the number 4 spot on my list.  Unfortunately,  the guild disbanded sometime during early ToT, but this experience still stands out as a great time of learning for me.

3. Dark Shamans 

Were I only interested in fights where hunters could cheese the mechanics, Dark Shamans would be even higher on my list.   In fact, it has several things working against it, that are really holding it back, but it still remains one of my favorites of this Xpac.

The Kor'kron Dark Shamans had some charm on their own, aside from their fun for hunters.  To me, this was the first fight that really felt like we were in Orgrimmar.   Going in and getting things out of the guild bank still remains a novel bit of fun.   And of course, some of the best Hunter Parkour happened here before the pulls.  Still, the real fun happened during the fights.

It was during the first few pulls of Dark Shamans, in normal mode, when I realized how much fun this fight was going to be for hunters.  Being able to Deter through the Ashen Wall was a nice start,  but then realizing I could Disengage right over them with a little help from the terrain was just awesome.   I can't express how much fun it was to watch other classes run all the way around that wall, while I could just pop right over it.

Fairly quickly, my guild, as many others had, switched to a 3 tank strategy for this fight, which took out a lot of the hunter fun, but even then there were some nice parts, like using binding shot to save a healer who'd accidentally pulled some slimes, or at some point I heard about the 4 piece BW + Barrage trick to take down the slimes (this involved building up to full stacks using the BM 4-piece set bonus, then casting barrage on all the slimes for an insane amount of damage).

2. Durumu

I'm not sure how other hunters felt about Dorumu, but for me, this was a great fight.  I'm still not exactly sure how the lore of Durumu (or much of ToT) works;  some  little slimy eye creature just happens to live here?  Or perhaps the Thunder King made him?   Or the titans made him and but he didn't work right?   Anyhow, whatever he is, I had a lot of fun with this fight.

The best part, of course, was the maze.   Part of what made it so fun was hearing about all of the horror stories in LFR.   But even the first few times through in normal mode, a lot of people struggled to get through that maze.   We hunters didn't have any particular advantage in getting through the maze, but we were able to do so while putting out just as much DPS as normal.  Perhaps it was that fact, that we were used to DPSing on the move, that prepared us a bit better for the maze.  Whatever it was, though, I was glad to be a hunter.

1. Thok
I had trouble putting thok in the top position here, because the top 100 parses for this fight don't include any hunters, so it's hard to say this is really a great fight for hunters.  But in the end, I just couldn't resist.   I love to move!

Thok's charm really comes out in the kiting phase on this fight.   Being able to to kite him while doing full DPS is great,  but the real fun is when you get that double fixate,  and have to run straight at this giant dinosaur, then jump-spin-disengage-spin-land and take off, right at the exact right moment to not get ate.   The first time I pulled off disengaging through Thok I almost fell out of my chair I had so much adrenaline going, and was so excited.  Fortunately we wiped to something else on that pull, because my nerves were shot.   With a little practice, though, good hunters could place Thok wherever they want.

Thok also had a very rare case for a raid boss, where using Widow's Venom became a bit of a necessity.   I imagine most strictly PvE hunters didn't even have a keybind for (if you're looking for a good key for it, I use shift-f).   I'm always glad to see a mechanic that leaves the raid relying on a hunter (or whatever support classes also have that debuff... monks?).  Also, depending on how much of a vengeance whore your tanks are, you may have had to add in Tranq'ing the jailor's enrage while kiting thok.  Again, it's just enough uniqueness to make the fight interesting, keeping my mind occupied, without getting into the "gimmick" range.

Even without those parts, the awesomeness of this fight really comes down to one thing.  We're fighting a freaking huge dinosaur!   What else really needs to be said?

Deserter Debuff Hotfix

Community Manager Lore was on the forums yesterday announcing a new hotfix they're implementing aimed at making it harder to tank your MMR in order to quickly cap Conquest Points, or sell wins.

[A] player who leaves an Arena or Rated Battleground before anyone in the match has entered combat will, at first, be given a 5-minute Deserter debuff. If they leave another match prematurely within a 20-minute window, the duration of the Deserter debuff will increase by 5 minutes each time (and the 20-minute window will restart), to a maximum of 20 minutes. The debuff will also apply if a player leaves the queue (or ignores it) once the match is ready and they’re given the prompt to enter. 
The Deserter debuff given for leaving a non-rated Battleground early will also be changed to begin at 5 minutes (and increase by 5 minutes for each subsequent desertion), but otherwise the rules will stay the same. Leaving a Random Battleground in progress at any point before it’s finished will give the Deserter debuff, and leaving or ignoring the prompt to enter a non-rated Battleground will not.
What had been happening, is people would queue for an arena, then not accept the invite when it popped up.  That would give the team that did go in an automatic win, raising their rating and lowering the team's rating who didn't go in.   You could easily do this several time per minute, lowering your rating substantially, which then will tell the computer to match you with other lower rated players, who you can then more easily beat.

Especially when running 2v2 arenas, this is very common.   And I have to admit, its really nice to occasionally just get a free win because no one showed up.   Still, I think we can all agree this is a pretty annoying exploit, because it makes arenas (and RBGs) much more difficult for players just starting to PvP, whom those low brackets are made for.

Blizzard has stated repeatedly that they're goal with arena and RBG rating systems, is that the MMR (matchmaking rating) will move up or down so that every player averages about 50% wins, 50% losses.   In theory, this is great.   It is not fun to lose over and over again, and it's not fun to (too often) get easy wins.   I'll be intrigued to see if this hotfix has any affect on the game, or if people will continue to manipulate the MMR system to their advantage.  

Edit: On twitter Lead PvP Designer Holinka explained that this wasn't actually to prevent MMR Tanking, but instead to prevent people from trading wins:

Perfecting 25H Malkorok: a Hunter Challenge

As we continue to scrape the alpha builds for little bits of news during this contentless stretch of MoP, I was asked to write a little guide on how hunters can best avoid the bubbles on Heroic Malkorok (which will be below); while doing so, I thought it might be fun to turn it into a fun hunter challenge for 25 player Heroic Malkorok, to see if we could squeeze a bit more fun out of this patch, seeing as we'll apparently be here for a while to come.  

The challenge is this: in a 25 player Heroic Malkorok kill, have the highest number of purple swirlies soaked, and absolutely no bubbles burst.   Bonus points will be given to hunters who, on the same kill, have a high ranking parse.  

A couple things to remember,  while a hunter should be able to accomplish these feats solo, support classes are there for a reason.  You might need to enlist the help of your guild-mates to ensure the fight doesn't end too quickly, etc. (on a side note, asking a support class to break the bubbles around you so that you don't, while technically not against the rules, is really lame).  To keep the logs clean, during blood rage, you'll want to ask someone else to clear the orbs; this shouldn't be much of a problem as there are many classes better suited to do this than hunters, anyway.  

Also, I have to apologize to the 10-player guilds out there.  Sorry, it may be challenging for different reasons (having to run to the other side of the room because that's where all of swirlies spawned), but the same feat in 10 player mode is just not comparable.

I've Been Blowing Bubbles:
I imagine there are many ways to avoid the bubbles; the simplest being to just slow down and go around them.  That, of course, is much easier said than done, so I thought it might be helpful to go through a little strategy to make it a bit easier.  

According to the dungeon journal, the orbs of corruption spawn randomly; however, that has not been my experience at all.   It seems that the majority of the time, the spawn under a player, in fact, it seems fairly rare that they spawn in the middle of nowhere (not rare enough that we haven't seen it happen, but still rare).   So what we want to do, is coax these bubbles into spawning where we want them to.

My preferred way to accomplish this, is to always stand along this imaginary red line I've drawn.   If the majority of the bubbles are along that line, and you're standing on it, then you always have plenty of room to go back to soak swirlies, or go forward and soak swirlies.  

This has a second added benefit, in that to avoid fall damage, when you get shot up into the air, we need somewhere safe to disengage to.   If the bubbles are spread around randomly, then it'll be a bit difficult to aim your disengage to a safe place.  If, on the other hand, you've lined up as many of the bubbles as possible onto the red line, then you can always disengage to the blue line (the perimeter of the room),  as you're falling.  

That should have you all set to get started on the challenge, and if not, at least it will keep your raid leader and healers from complaining that you're hitting too many bubbles!  

Shadowmoon Valley and the Return of Gul'dan

Blizzard released a blog post previewing Shadowmoon Valley over at Battle.net.  Even though the less civilized, tribal nature of the Tauren, Trolls and Orcs is what draws me to the Horde, the Draenei have been consistently my favorite Alliance Race.  It's good, then, to see some news realeased about their story, and it appears there's a bit more going on than we normally get from the Naru whisperers.

Meanwhile, trouble brews amongst the Exarchs, the most powerful and influential draenei heroes. Even as they debate the future of the draenei on their adopted homeworld, there is growing evidence of a traitor among their ranks. Who can be trusted?
The night elf Wardens sense a demonic presence in the northern woods of Shadowmoon Valley. As they hunt for the source of the fel energy, a sinister truth is revealed: Gul’dan, the Destroyer of Dreams, has returned.
Both Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria featured much more interesting Horde story-lines than Alliance. Hopefully this is just a small preview and there will be some major stories going on with the Draenei.

We should be seeing considerably more about Shadowmoon Valley this coming week, as they open up the Alliance side of the alpha soon™.

Multistrike Changes

While discussing mechanic changes ealier today, it was pointed out to me that I hadn't actually read the latest patch notes regarding the changes to multistrike.   I guess I just assumed they were the same as before, so I skipped that section and went right to the good stuff.

Anyhow,  this is from the Dev Watercooler:

New Stat: Multistrike 
A new stat in Warlords of Draenor, Multistrike grants your spells, abilities, and auto-attacks additional chances to activate. If you’ve been following along since BlizzCon, you may remember that in our early plans, your Multistrike chance would split between two rolls and effectively have a 200% cap. We’ve since changed that to make it more clear and intuitive: the full chance is given to both rolls, with a 100% cap.
Now Multistrike grants your spells, abilities, and auto-attacks the chance to activate up to two extra times at 30% of normal effectiveness. For example, if you have 55% Multistrike and cast a Fireball that does 1000–1100 damage, you’ll have two separate 55% chances to automatically follow with another smaller Fireball that does 300–330 damage. That means every time you cast Fireball, you have a chance to see one big-damage Fireball, and then two smaller-damage Fireballs leave your hands in quick succession.
A couple things are a little unclear there.   Let's use their example; with 55% multistrike, and you cast an arcane shot (fireballs are for support classes) that does 1000 - 1090 damage.   You have 2, independent, 55% chances to automatically follow with another, third-the-damage arcane shot.   However,  you have a 79.75% chance of getting at least one third-the-damage arcane shot (which is the same as to say, you have a 20.25% chance of not seeing any), and you have a 30.25% chance of seeing 2 third-the-damage arcane shots.   

For those who don't remember basic probabilities from high school, for independent probabilities we add them together as such:

P(x) = 1 - (Chance to Fail / Total Chances) * (Second Chance to Fail / Second Total Chances)

Or, for our case, where the odds for the first and second will always be the same, simply:

P(x) = 1 - ((Chance to Fail / Total Chances) ^2)

Our chance, then, to get at least 1 multistrike will always be:

P(x) = 1 - (1- MS%) ^2

So if we have 25% Multistrike, we'll have a 43.75% chance of getting at least 1 third-the-damage shot. If we have 30% Multistrike, we'll have a 51% chance of getting at least 1 third-the-damage shot. The numbers on up to 55% look like:

Multistrike Chance to get 1
5% 9.75%
10% 19.00%
15% 27.75%
20% 36.00%
25% 43.75%
30% 51.00%
35% 57.75%
40% 64.00%
45% 69.75%
50% 75.00%
55% 79.75%

This is particularly interesting because the chance to get at least 1 is going to change dramatically as the expansion goes on.  Notice how going from 5% to 10% MS gives you a 9.25% increased chance to get at least 1 Multistrike,  but going from 50% to 55% MS is only a 4.75% increased chance to get at least 1 Multistrike.   This is very important for SV hunters, because, at least as it's been explained so far,  getting at least one multistrike on each Black Arrow tick is going to keep you swimming in free Explosive Shots, since you'll be able to use one free ES with each tick, and use the reset Explosive Shot CD between each of those. 

At higher Multistrike ratings, we'll need to start worrying about capping our Explosive Shots, because the chance to get both Multistrikes grows in an inverted way to how the chance to get at least one grows:

Multistrike  Chance to get both
20% 4.00%
25% 6.25%
30% 9.00%
35% 12.25%
40% 16.00%
45% 20.25%
50% 25.00%
55% 30.25%
60% 36.00%
65% 42.25%
70% 49.00%
75% 56.25%
80% 64.00%
85% 72.25%
90% 81.00%
95% 90.25%
100% 100.00%

Hopefully we'll have a new alpha build with the LnL changes included soon, so we can start to get a better feel for how the devs are thinking it will work.   As it is, once we get up around 50% multistrike, we'll be doing more Explosive Shots than we even are now, so I imagine something will be changed.   Hopefully this will be a fun mechanic, though.   

Survival Camo Not Broken...

Kurn of Kurn's Corner has a video up with a look at the new Survival Enhanced and Improved Camo.   I can't imagine this will make it to live,  but it looks like camo used before entering combat does not break 6 seconds after entering combat.  

Unfortunately, the pvp ramifications of this are too much,  since  you can always FD to get out of combat, then pop camo again, being that they have the same CD.   Still, it's fun to see on the alpha.  I certainly wouldn't complain if this made it to live; but I would get tired of hearing other classes complain.  

Lock and Load procing with Multistrike?

This is SV's much needed stat change that we've been waiting for.   Good thing I didn't already go running my mouth about how dumb it was to have Survival's Attunement be Multistrike... Errr... Well let's just pretend, ok?

I'm really glad to see this change, it goes a long way to making multistrike feel like a real secondary shot.   I'd expect to see more mechanics like this with the new stats coming, but this is a great start.   It will keep the heavy RNG feel that the devs have been pushing on SV, but gives us more predictable control over it, in that we can stack the stat.

Dumbing Down Marksmanship

Today's Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch-notes were updated after-the-fact to sneak in some substantial Marksmanship changes. While I wouldn't call changes to the amount of damage a shot does a "nerf" because it will all be balanced with other classes and specs, I am completely comfortable calling some of these changes nerfs, as they change the nature of the ability, making them less valuable.  Perhaps not a nerf in the sense that the class will be worse off overall on the damage meters; but a nerf to the abilities, and the style of play we're accustomed to.   Perhaps, in the end, these changes will be for the best, but we won't be able to know that until WoD comes out.  Until then, here is my take on the changes:

Chim Shot
  • Chimera Shot has been nerfed to no longer heal the hunter for 5% of total health.
Removing the Heal from Chim Shot isn't a huge issue.  In PvE a 5% heal every 9 seconds is rarely a lifesaver.  In PvP, it was a nice heal, though really it's the reduced relative damage done by Aimed Shot along with losing Silencing Shot that will most hurt MM PvP. Hopefully MM PvP'ers will be able to snipe enough killing blows in battlegrounds to make up a little of this lost heal, but in arenas, and in the majority of BGs that mechanic won't be part of the gameplay.

It's important to remember we'll still get a small heal from Enhanced Camo every minute, which is only 2% less healing per minute, and is available as a more bursty heal.  

Master Marks
While it may seam insubstantial, for Marks PvP this is a major change.  An instant cast Aimed Shot can mean the difference between a killing blow and seeing your opponent healed back to full health.   The switch from Arcane to exclusively Aimed Shot is going to make the loss of Master Marksman even harder.

Conc Barrage
This is one I definitely would not call a nerf.  They've had CC on the chopping block for WoD, so the loss of the daze effect on Chim Shot and Multi-Shot doesn't come as a surprise at all, and is only fair with the CC that other classes are losing.

Careful Aim
  • Careful Aim has been nerfed from 75% increased Crit chance to 60% increased Crit chance
I imagine the point of this one is to keep it relevant as we get further into the expansion and our crit rating gets higher.  That's understandable to some extent, but it will make Marks less appealing at the beginning for the first tier.  Careful Aim was the mechanic that had most top-end hunters excited about getting to play MM early in Warlords of Draenor.  A 60% buff is still substantial,  and will balance out the added duration of Careful Aim since it's now active during Rapid Fire as well,  but it means we'll be more RNG dependent, and our openers won't have guaranteed 30-focus Aimed Shots.

It could be that the devs plan for the Marksmanship Attunement bonus to make up for this, but we'll have to wait and see what our crit levels are like.

Steady Focus
This is another that I'll be sad to see go.  I would assume they'll change the cast times on Aimed Shot to compensate for it (hopefully, at least), or perhaps they were hoping to make sure MM hunters really needed haste, but this was an interesting ability and had great flavor for Marksmanship.  I recognize that it would take some added effort by the Devs to make this work with Focusing Shot, but I to me, this is too fun of an ability to lose because of that.

My real problem with this change, is it feels like it's part of a continued trend of dumbing down the game. Raising MM's focus to 120 was already lowering the skill cap for Steady Focus, in that it makes it easier not to focus cap while hitting two Steady Shots in a row; taking it out altogether is just disappointing.

Piercing Shots
This is one of two significant nerfs to the benefit of Marksmanship Crit.  This was the primary mechanic that made crit so valuable for MM hunters, that it wasn't simply doubling the damage of these shots, but was adding a 30% bleed as well.  And the bleed was a substantial part of what made MM hunters unique from SV and BM.   I really don't know what they were thinking with this one, but if I had to guess, I would think they perhaps thought crit was becoming too valuable with the extra crit benefits from the Draenor Perk Enhanced Aimed Shot.

Speaking of Draenor Perks,  I didn't see if they listed what the new perk would be to replace Enhanced Piercing Shots.  That perk would have gone a long way to bringing MM's AoE damage in line with SV's and BM's.  Assuming this change sticks, I'll be looking forward to seeing what new perk MM will get.

"He just does that to show he could've snuffed me"
A clever way to get people on board with changes to the game, is to take away more than is intended; then the devs can give us back something, placating us, and still they've removed what they really wanted to remove in the first place.  I certainly don't actually know that this is a strategy Blizzard uses, but it feels like that sometimes: take away a handful of abilities with the first alpha build, then give us back Distracting Shot and Rapid Fire, then all of the sudden we've forgotten the other losses.

My hope is that this is what they're doing here.  Take away a lot of MM's flavor, then give us back a couple, so we'll forget the ones we lost.   As they keep reminding us: this is just the alpha, and none of the changes are final.   Even in these patch notes, they put in a comment that they'd be adding something to ensure that Crit remained the most valuable stat for MM.  Hopefully that will be something to keep MM a fun, exciting spec.

ToTS: New Pet Defensive Abilities in Warlords

WoW hunter pet turtle Shield Shell
The Thrill of the Spreadsheet is a series in which we take a technical, more in depth look at huntering and hunter abilities.  If numbers aren't your thing,  you'll likely want to skip the end of this one.  

A while back, we received a datamined list of new pet abilities.  These largely come as replacements for buffs which are no longer in game, or as replacements for CC abilities which pets no longer bring.   By now, you've most likely seen, at least in some form, all of the new abilities, so I'm not going to go through them all.  But I did want to take some time to think about what some of the new defensive abilities might offer for Pet Tanking and Soloing.

As holding aggro isn't really part of pet tanking any longer (as you can generally gain more aggro from glyph of MD).  Because of that, many hunters have been using Beetles and Turtles for Hardened Carapace and Shell Shield.   When I first went to the Timeless Isle in ToT gear, I use Bloodtooth for his Shell Shield, so I could pull an Eternal Kilnmaster or two away from a Blazebound Chanter.   With the announcement that they planned to make the leveling experience more like the timeless isle, and more recently the introduction of Vignettes to the Alpha client, it may become worthwhile to keep pet around with more defensive abilities than just being tenacity spec'ed.   

That's definitely not a problem, because with WoD, we'll have a lot more defensive options.  To start off, a couple of new defensives are duplicates of the Turtle's Shell Sheild:

Solid Shell - Shale Spider 
Harden Shell - Crab

After that, we get into some slight modifications:

Thick Hide - Rhino - This is a passive ability which auotmatically applies a Shell Shield-like abilitiy when the Rhino goes below 40% health.  It's an interesting version of the same ability, but it lacks and ability to precast, so for mobs like the Eternal Kilnmasters, you couldn't use it to soak their charge.  In group pet-tanking, the passive nature of this ability will also make you unable to use it as a defensive CD when needed.

Stone Armor - Quilen - this is a slightly reduced damage reduction, only 30% and it lasts for only 8 seconds,  but during that time, your pet also gets an 8 sec HoT for 24% of their total health.   This will be great for bosses/mobs that don't have as spiky of damage, but have more damage overall.  

There's one other "healing" ability, though it doesn't come with a damage reductions:

Feast - Devilsaur - This is only feasible in the world, when fighting tough mobs, it most likely won't be viable in dungeons or raids.  However,  if you can line up a few easier to kill mobs,  then keep them around while you're fighting your tougher mob, this could come in handy.   I'm imagining using it over on the Isle of Giants,  where you could kill some little Direhorns, and then feast on them when killing the big Direhorn; or you could kill some little Raptors, then feast on them while trying to pet tank the big Primal Raptor.  

The last two true defensive abilities are particularly interesting to me because they're based around the concept of Agility, and therefor work more like a Monk Tank's, or a Rogue's defensive cooldowns:

Agile Reflexes - Fox, and Primal Agility - Monkey - Both of these increase dodge by 30% for 10 seconds. These are nice little benefits for hunters who just enjoy fox or monkeys, and I can imagine a situation or two where dodge of damage could be useful; however, in general these won't be making the cut for pet tanks.   

The Competition
While it's nice to have so many options, the reality is that of the actually new abilities, only Quilen's has a chance of competing with the good ol' Shield Shell.   So let's look at how they stack up against each other.

In the live version of the game, my turtle, with 580k HP, gets about 45k healing every second from glyphed Mend Pet (with other healing buffs, glyphs, etc) plus around 19k from Spirit Bond every 2 seconds, which simply means he would have to be taking more damage than that to need any defensive CD.  From Stone Armor, it should take about 26100 healing per second, or 208,800 over the entire 8 seconds.  That gives us a good place to start a comparison.

Stone Armor vs Shield Shell WoW Hunter pet tankingPatterns
If we're only dealing with absorbing one hit, then we have a very simple comparison; we need to solve for x where .5x < .3x + 208,800.   That means the one hit we would need to absorb would be < 1,044,000. With 50% Damage reduction we can live through a 1mil HP hit,  with the Stone Armor, we cannot.  If we could have negative health, Stone Armor would be better at that point, but since we don't, Shield Shell is going to do better.

For our single hit, we need to solve for .5x < .3x + 208,800, where .7x also less than 580,000.   That means for one single hit, the damage would have to be less than 828,571.

We probably aren't fighting something with only one hit we need to absorb,  the mob will surely have melee hits.   This is where Shell Shield starts to take over with it's longer duration.   If a mob's melee does x damage every 2 seconds,  the we can amend our equation to look like F/12 * .5x < (F/8 * .3x) + 208,800, where F is the frequency of the melee hits (every 2 seconds, in our make believe example). For melee hits every 2 seconds, they would have to be less than 116,000 damage each for Stone Armor to be the better choice.

The final wrench I'll throw into this is in the game we'll be fighting something with both melee hits and more substantial abilities.  To look at that comparison we'll need to make a fun graph, which I'm not going to totally explain here (ask in the comments or send me a message if you're curious and would like help figuring it out), but I imagine most who would bother reading this can guess where it's coming from. The graph is to the right beside all of this describes a situation with Melees every 2 seconds on the X axis, and one large hit on the y axis.  If you're below the line, then Stone Armor will be better, if you're above it, Shield Shell will be better.

If you'd like to plug in real game numbers, dust off your old TI-83 from highschool, and simply use .5y+F/12*.5x = (F/8*.3x)+.3y+.36*HP (where HP is your pet's HP).

One issue with this is we have significant healing already, in Spirit Bond and glyphed Mend Pet.   If you look at in game examples, in most of them you'll be overhealing a lot with Stone Armor, so the longer duration and increase absorb of Shield Shell still comes out ahead in nearly every example I tried.

The devs have stated that in WoD, the ratio of our total HP relative to the damage done will be significantly greater than it is right now.   This could put Stone Armor into a more competitive place, since it will increase the heal,  however, it will simultaneously increase the heal from Spirit Bond and Mend Pet.  Without a buff to the Damage Reduction from Stone Armor, or the length, there aren't going to be many situations where it wins out over Shield Shell.

Season 16 PvP Set Bonus

A somewhat overlooked part of the latest WoD alpha build is the PvP 2-piece set bonus.
When your Freezing Trap activates, you and your pet gain 1000 Focus.
For now, I think it's safe to assume that the tooltip is a bit off and it means it will give you a full focus bar,  not more than you can use.

At first glance, this is a fairly bland ability.  But after thinking about it for a minute, I really like this for several reasons.

  1. I love playing SV, and it's seeming less and less likely that SV will be viable for raiding, so I love to see perks that are beneficial to SV PvP.  This will be a much greater bonus to SV than the other two specs because of Enhance Traps; while BM and MM will get an extra 20 focus out of each freezing trap, SV will get a full focus bar twice as often.  
  2. I already need to trap a healer to kill anyone,  this provides some burst at the exact moment you trap the healer.   And as an added bonus, if someone else eats the trap, you still get the full focus bar.
  3. It integrates damage dealing with crowd control.   If you want to do the most possible damage, you need to be using a Freezing Trap on cooldown.  Which also leads to...
  4. I have hopes that the reason they're adding this in the first season of the new expansion, is they are hoping it will teach hunters to trap.   Especially in random battlegrounds,  hunters will now have more incentive to be a good, team player, focusing on support/CC as much as they focus on dealing damage.
If you can't tell, I'm really pleased with this bonus.   Hopefully the 4-piece set bonus will be a bit more flavorful, give something specific to each spec, but as far as 2-piece set bonuses go, this is perfect.

Compare this to our current 2-piece set bonus, Arcane Intensity.  I happen to think keeping up that buff isn't a bad bonus.  Though most people use arcane enough that they don't have to think about it.  The new bonus, on the other hand, will have much less of a passive aspect to it.  

Without Scatter Shot, this becomes an even more impressive feat for a hunter to get the most out of this ability.  We've got to decide if we want to attempt to attempt to kite someone through the trap, or aim it just ahead of someone running, or eat the DR and use it with Binding Shot/Wyvern Sting or one of our teammates' CCs. 

I, for one, am looking forward to finding ways to maximize this ability.  

WoD Updates: Kurn's Corner and Stat Attunements

Over at Kurn's Corner,  she's got a great write up of first impressions of the Warlords of Draenor Alpha.

Of huntering importance, there's a new visual for Freezing Trap, which is awesome.  I'm not even going to admit how many times I've gotten confused whether someone was trapped or a mage was using Ice Block in a battlegrounds.

Be sure to check out the article if you're interested in a hunter's view of the alpha!

Stat Attunements
In other Alpha news, yesterday's build brought us a new feature in Stat Attunement, which gives each spec a bonus to a different secondary stat.  

Beast Mastery
  • Mastery Attunement You gain 5% more of the Mastery stat from all sources. Hunter - Beast Mastery Spec.
This is an interesting new way to differentiate specs.   If it's unclear, this is a buff to the amount of the listed stat,  it's not a flat 5% increase to the total percent.  This means that while they won't do much starting off, they'll end up being much more useful toward the end of the expansion when we're seeing higher amounts of secondary stats.  

As hunter stats work now, they're close enough in value that this will most likely make the assigned Attunement stat the most valuable stat to get on gear, since it will give you more than the generally allocated stat.   I'll be curious how this will affect gear distribution in raid, especially in progression oriented mythic teams.   Will we be back to specific gear for specific classes, regardless of the changing primary stats?   Possibly,  though for hunters, at least, I can't imagine this could make a large enough difference that a secondary stat would cause a lower Agi (lower ilvl) item to be worth more than a higher Agi piece. 

WoD Alpha Previews

We're starting to see more and more videos from the Warlords of Draenor Alpha.  If by some chance you haven't bothered to type Warlords of Draenor Alpha into a youtube search, I'll include some here.

Olivia Grace from Wowhead has a good overview of the UI changes we've been hearing about:

And they've also got a quick preview of some of the new armor sets,  which you can also see in more detail here.

MabusGaming has been putting out tons of videos from his stream with some good hunter play and the new dungeon:

Fatboss has a quick play-through of some support classes trying out the Bloodmaul Slag Mines dungeon:

You can also find several hunters on twitch live streaming. RogerBrown's twitch is here.  Hopefully we'll be seeing more prominent hunter's in the alpha/beta soon.

TotS - WoD Predictions: Rapid Fire during Careful Aim

As we've covered here on the Thrill of the Wild,  Rapid Fire is getting a major buff in Warlords of Draenor, adding the Careful Aim buff anytime Rapid Fire is up.   As the Beta comes out, and we start to get a look at how things will shape up, I thought I'd take a stab at whether or not we'd want to use Rapid Fire on the pull, or if we'll be saving it for when the target's health is 80%.

To do this I'm going to be using haste rates from tier 14 hunter gear.  This was the 496 "normal" gear, and though the numbers will be very different, the relative amount of haste should be somewhat similar in the first tier of Warlords.   

To get us started, let's imagine a 6 minute fight, and let's say we spend 15% of the fight with the boss above 80% health, with the Careful Aim buff.   We'll have to map out the first 20 or so seconds of the fight with our Pot, which we can compare to the same time with rapid fire up.   

Not stacking Rapid Fire:
If we don't use Rapid Fire at the pull,  that means our first Aimed Shot will take 2.24 sec, and our first steady shots will take 1.79 sec.   With the new Draenor Perks,  we'll be able to cast 2 Aimed Shots and a Chimera Shot before casting any Steady Shots.    2 Aimed, a Chim and 2 Steady Shots bring us to the 9.06 sec marker.

At this point Steady Focus will kick in, and our cast times will go down,   Aimed shot to 1.95 and Steady Shot to 1.56.   After casting our CDs at the beginning,  we might get 20 seconds that look like this:

Shot      Cost   Focus after  Cast time        Time 
Chim -35 89 1 1
Aimed -30 69 2.24 3.24
Aimed -30 49 2.24 5.48
Steady  16 73 1.79 7.27
Steady  16 97 1.79 9.06
Chim -35 67 1 10.06
Aimed -30 46 1.95 12.01
Steady  16 69 1.56 13.57
Steady  16 91 1.56 15.13
Aimed -30 70 1.95 17.08
Aimed -30 49 1.95 19.03
Chim -35 18 1 20.03
That's 5 Aimed Shots, 3 Chim Shots and 4 Steady Shots.   

Stacking Rapid Fire:
If we stack Rapid Fire at the beginning of the fight with our procs/pot, the same time period might look like this:

Shot     Cost   Focus after  Cast time        Time 
Chim -35 89 1 1
Rapid Fire 0 89 0 1
Aimed -30 69 1.6 2.6
Aimed -30 49 1.6 4.2
Steady  16 73 1.28 5.48
Steady  16 97 1.28 6.76
Aimed -30 76 1.39 8.15
Aimed -30 55 1.39 9.54
Chim -35 26 1 10.54
Steady  16 49 1.11 11.65
Steady  16 72 1.11 12.76
Aimed -30 51 1.39 14.15
Aimed -30 29 1.39 15.54
Steady  16 52 1.11 16.65
Steady  16 75 1.56 18.21
Aimed -30 54 1.95 20.16
Chim -35 23 1 21.16

It looks like a lot more shots, but I could actually only figure out how to squeeze in 2 more Aimed Shot, giving us 7 Aimed Shots, 6 Steadys and 3 Chim Shots.  

One issue that will come up is fight length, which will be incredibly important.  If instead of a 6 minute fight, we have a 7 minute fight in which the boss is >80% health for 15% of the time,  and we wait until that time is over to use Rapid Fire,  then we'll only get two rapid fires.   If instead we use Rapid Fire on the pull, we'll get three total: the same number while the boss is <80% health, plus an extra Rapid Fire during the pull.

Other than the fight length issue, going forward into the beta, we'll have to look at whether or not 2 extra Aimed Shots with trinket procs and pre-pot are worth more damage than 6 extra guaranteed Crit Aimed Shots.

Remember that a Crit on an Aimed Shot is not just double the damage,  thanks to Draenor Perk Enhanced Aimed Shot we get back 20 focus, and thanks to Piercing Shots we get that extra 30% damage as a bleed over 8 sec.   That bleed makes the crit a 260% increase in damage.

With the changes to how Weapon Damage is scaling with AP, it could be a lot closer than it would be with the current MoP Aimed Shot Scaling.  Unfortunately, we'll have to wait and see what happens.  As the alpha expands and the beta comes out, hopefully there will be some good logs to pore through.  

Thrill of the Spreadsheet: Opening with Serpent Sting

Serpent Sting Animation, Warcraft Hunters

Last week I went through some of the pros and cons of opening with Glaive Toss, and I had mentioned that I would cover some other alternatives as well, including Serpent Sting Openers.   However, at the time it didn't occur to me that I pretty much covered all of the math/spreadsheet part of this a while back when talking about DoT snapshotting, which is a big part of the discussion of opening with serpent sting.  Still, the mechanics might look a little different when thinking about it in regards to an opening shot, so I'll still go ahead and work through some of the pros and cons.

Nuts and Bolts
To start us off,  let's look at the formula for Serpent Sting, each tick will be:

(16200 + .8*RAP)/5

For SV hunters, Improved Serpent Sting will give that a bit of a boost, making it look like:

1.X*(24300 + 1.2*RAP)/5

For SV hunters we'll have to add in a Mastery Multiplier, which is the 1.X in the formula, as well as the Improved Serpent Sting 150% damage increase.  For BM, we'll occasionally add in a BW multiplier, but that doesn't necessarily need to be reflected in our formula

The actual in game damage done per tick end up looking like the below chart for an SV spec'ed hunter, assuming a base RAP of 93920, which should be pretty average for a normal SoO geared hunter with full buffs:

AP Tick Crit
93920 31117 62235
AoC 141972 46424 92849
Haromm's 147232 47930 95859
Both 189670 120149
You'll notice I didn't include a non-crit tick for while both trinkets are procs, and that's because with both, you should be getting close enough to the crit cap that you won't ever get anything but crits.  If you're curious, however, just divide the crit damage by 2.   

For BM, the ticks will look more like:

AP Tick Crit
93920 18267 36534
AoC 141972 25956 51911
Haromm's 147232 26797 53594
Both 189670 67174

Of course you're less likely to be using Haromm's if you're BM, but the Ticking Ebon Detonator doesn't make for elegant spreadsheets.   

Why not use SS:
The argument, then, for not using Serpent Sting as your opening shot, is if you wait until procs are up, you get a much more powerful shot.   The issue with this line of thinking, as I see it, is in how long we can go without refreshing Serpent Sting using a Cobra Shot.

Considerations for Survival: 
For Survival Hunters,  we have a much more powerful Serpent Sting, which means the extra Attack Power from our trinket procs multiplies to do even more damage.   However,  especially in single target fights where most SV hunters will use a Murder of Crows,  you're going to be refreshing Serpent Sting pretty quickly anyway.   

The only occasion where you wouldn't need to use Cobra Shot early on, is if right after your aMoC, you got a long string of LnL procs.  In that situation you'll need to cast a serpent sting to reapply.   In this case, that opening SS will have only had a chance to tick once or twice.  Without any trinket procs,  two ticks of Serpent Sting plus the initial damage from Improved Serpent Sting (15% the damage of all 5 ticks) do less damage than a single arcane shot (which for me does about 93k damage).   So, compared to using an arcane as our opening shot, we've come out just a little bit behind in DPS.  Or, comparing it to a Glaive Toss, we'll need 3 ticks plus the initial damage to break even.

WoW Hunter Serpent Sting card
Considerations for Beast Mastery:
For BM Hunters, we have a unique mechanic which is going to greatly affect the need refresh SS, which is the Bestial Wrath focus cost reduction.   In general, we should be starting BW with plenty of focus to continuously spam Kill Commands, Arcanes and Glaives without ever having to build up focus with cobra shot.  And since we should be lining up our BW with our trinket procs, that means we'll need to cast a SS for snapshotting purposes during BW, with the AoC proc up, and toward the high end of the TED trinket proc.   So then we get to the same issue we had for SV,  if we're going to be reapplying it 10 seconds or so into the fight,  why bother with it to open, when we'll only get 2 or 3 ticks out of it.   For BM those first 2 or 3 ticks matter even less, since BM hunters don't get the initial damage from ISS, and because their RAP multiplier is lower to begin with.

Pros and Cons:

In Favor:

  • Set it and forget it.   If you're having trouble with your rotation, simply using SS at the start and then never having to worry about it again can simplify things.  Similarly, if you meant to apply it while your procs were up but forget and then don't notice for a while, you'll have lost a significant amount of basically free DPS.   
  • It's inexpensive, at only 15 focus, putting you at 90 or 110 focus by the time your next GCD is ready.
  • It builds threat very slowly, if you're not Misdirecting to your tank for some reason, you don't have to worry about it pulling to you.


  • It's only makes up a lot of damage when you compare many ticks with one other instant shot.   So if you need to reapply it shortly after the fight starts, you could have gotten more damage out of a different shot.
  • It's travels at 40 yards/sec and begins autoshot, so you can only precast slightly.
  • It builds threat very slowly, so if you are Misdirecting to your tank, it's not going to be any help.   
  • It doesn't look as awesome as 2 spinning glaives flying across the room before anyone else has attacked.

That about covers the two most popular openers.  Next week, I'm going to try to break down some of the top parses in the world to see if we can get a little more insight into what's helping those hunters get an edge on the competition. 

Versatility Hunter Build

In the latest Dev Watercooler they went over the latest stat changes.  You'll remember at first we were getting Tertiary stats, which would occasionally be included as bonus stats on pieces of gear.  Then those just morphed into secondary stats which would be offered along with the normal secondary stats,  though they hinted that they might only come on specific items, primarily trinkets.   Well they've updated the new secondary stats, and what were once tertiary stats are now "minor stats".

Secondary Stats
  • Haste: (Unchanged) Increases attack speed, spell casting speed, and some resource generation
  • Critical Strike: (Unchanged) Increases your chance to critically strike, dealing double damage
  • Mastery: (Unchanged) Increases the effectiveness of your specialization-specific Mastery
  • Multistrike: (New) Grants two chances for your damage and healing effects to fire an additional time, each at 30% effectiveness
  • Versatility: (New) Increases damage and healing, and reduces damage taken
  • Spirit: (Unchanged, healer-only) Increases mana regeneration rate
  • Bonus Armor: (New, tank-only) Increases your armor
Minor Stats
  • Movement Speed: (New) Increases your movement speed
  • Indestructible: (New) Causes the item to not take durability damage
  • Leech: (New) Causes you to be healed for a portion of all damage and healing done
  • Avoidance: (New) Reduces your damage taken from area-of-effect attacks.

That's a lot of new info. Gone are Amplify and Readiness,  and we see several useful new stats, most of which we were already aware of or expecting.  The minor stats will be fun little bonuses; though it does seem fairly strange that there are such incredibly powerful minor stats, like Movement Speed and Leech, right next to completely useless (at least in combat) stats like Indestructible.

Of the new secondary stats, one in particular is of interest to any hunters wanting to do some soloing:
New Stat: Versatility
The removal of Readiness left some space in our itemization plans and room for another stat to take its place. It’s important to offer players plenty of different secondary stats so that you have a wide variety of interesting and compelling gear to choose from. To that end, we’ve been working on a new secondary stat called Versatility. Versatility is pretty simple: 1% Versatility grants a 1% increase to your damage, healing, and absorbs, and reduces the damage you take by 0.5%. It’s a straightforward, obvious upgrade to your primary role’s performance, but also gives significant boosts to secondary role performance and survivability. The healing increase it provides does work on self-heals, such as Recuperate, for example. We won’t be tuning it to be anyone’s highest throughput secondary stat, but it’ll be close, and it’ll give you a nice boost to how versatile your character is in the process. It’ll be especially attractive to hybrids who want to feel more “hybridy.”

 We've already got some amazing improvements to hunter extreme soloing in the form of Draenor Perks, primarily the added healing from camo, and situationally, the added healing from killing blows.   If we can get a substantial Versatility Build, it's going to significantly boost not only the new Camo Healing,  but also our Spirit Bond, Spirit Mend and Chimera Shot, and it looks like it will stack with Animal Bond, all while simultaneously reducing damage and giving a slight dps increase.

If  we have a trinket with the secondary Leech stat as strong as Juggernaut's Focusing Crystal, we could be seeing self heals on the level of a Blood Death Knight!

Ok, so maybe the Focusing Crystal is a bit too much to hope for,  and perhaps we'll never see as much self healing as a Blood DK; this is still a major buff to Hunter Soloing, and hopefully will bring us back up to where we're supposed to be, at the cutting edge of Extreme Soloing,  pushing the limits where other classes still tremble in fear.

Valorous Cryptstalker

In my continued quest for a great set of armor to wear when returning through the dark portal to new, old Draenor,  I thought I'd give the tier 7.5 Valorous Cryptstalker gear a shot.   I've actually been wearing this set on one of my alt hunters for a while now.   I like the dark tones and purple flames (or glowing whatever).   The set even looks good with the Garry BoA bow, I think.   And I think it works pretty well with Bloodtooth, who's currently my favorite turtle, since Terrorpene is so common these days.  I borrowed the Cloak of the Shadowed Sun for the set (soon we'll be able to xmog cloaks again!), along with the bow from Patchwerk.

All of these pieces are found in Nax 25.  I can't really recall off the top of my head, but I don't think there are any special tricks you need to know to solo any boss in there.  Just run in and pew pew hard.   It should only take a few runs at most to get every piece you need.   As a bonus, if you don't get enough from Nax,  the tier pieces have duplicates in Vault of Archavon.

Here's a link to the xmog set on Wowhead, if you're interested.