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Survival and Marksmanship Progression Talents and Legendaries

I went through the logs and wrote down the talent and legendary usage for the top 25 parses out of the first 200 hunters of each spec to complete each heroic boss.  Mostly was just doing this to have a little guide for myself, but I figured I'd post it up here, just in case anyone is interested.

Survival Talents


Survival Legendaries


Survival Notes:

  • Way of the Mok'Nathal has the highest damage potential in the level 15 tier. However, it also has a high skill cap, and shouldn't be taken on progression if doing so will cause you to make mechanical mistakes, or will just occupy too much of your attention. If you feel completely comfortable with it, it can be used to great success on any of the fights in Tomb of Sargeras.
  • Regardless of the fight, about 15-20% of top parsing hunters take A Murder of Crows, and about 80-85% take Snake Hunter, this may be primarily a matter of preference. It's possible we might see more uses of Mortal Wounds later on when more people have the tier 20 set bonus, but for now, it's not really being used by top performing hunters.
  • Dragonsfire Grenade is starting to see some use, perhaps due to the buff it got for patch 7.2.5; however, it's still used much, much less than the other two level 90 talents. For the vast majority of SV hunters, the decision on this tier is one of Serpent Sting for single-target/priority-target, or Butchery for burst AoE.
  • In the level 100 tier, we saw only a couple of fights where there was any swapping away from Spitting Cobra. In the two exceptions, Mistress Sassz'ine and The Desolate Host, we saw top parsing SV Hunters taking Expert Trapper at a rate of 52% and 48%, respectively. It's also worth noting here that while Caltrops was sometimes taken without Expert Trapper, Expert Trapper was never taken without Caltrops.
  • For other specs, we see Soul of the Huntmaster being swapped in and out depending on various talents taken. For SV hunters, this doesn't seem to be the case at all, and we only rarely saw top performing SV hunters wearing Soul of the Huntmaster.
  • For the most part, Survival Hunters have a lot possible variations in both talent builds and Legendary usage.
  • Outside of Call of the Wild, which 81%-96% of top performing SV Hunters used on every single fight, there's no clear cut, obvious rule for which legendary goes in which situation.
  • Sephuz's Secret was used a lot for single target fights, though never in more than 56% of top parses on any given single target fight.
  • Similarly, Butcher's Bone Apron was used a lot for multi-target fights (when Butchery is choosen), but again, on AoE fights it still was only taken about 60% of the time.
  • Although Kil'jaeden's Burning Wish sims well, on AoE fights especially, it never saw greater than 20% usage in top progression parses.


Marksmanship Talents 

Marksmanship Legendaries


Marksmanship Notes:

  • There's very, very little variation in how Marksmanship Hunters are played.  In part, that is probably due to the spec being played by a lot more people, so there's a larger sample size to pull from, getting rid of anomaly cases where someone had a substandard build but got really good RNG.  It's also at least partially due to having one main theorycrafter for the spec that most everyone who plays it follows, Azortharion.
  • It seems we've basically got two talent builds: one for single target and one for AoE, with the only variation to those two coming from the occasional use of Explosive Shot
  • The Legos have a little bit of variation on some fights.  We can pretty much break them down into 3 builds:
    • Boots plus Belt - This is the go-to build for priority target damage on an fight with AoE, and represents the only time we saw 100% of the top 25 using the exact same legos on a boss. 
    • Boots plus new Ring - It's kind of cool to see a place for Soul of the Huntmaster.  I like the idea of having Serpent Sting for that extra priority target damage, and LnL for random burst, a little bit of movement and some fast target swapping.  
    • Boots plus Hands - This is a popular ST build based around getting that extra movement. This should be a really solid choice on mostly single target fights with a lot of movement, especially early in the new raid-tier when we're all trying to learn the fights. 
I'll try to get the those last bosses filled in after the weekend, when hopefully we'll have enough data on them.  I'm also curious to see what happens when we move into mythic.  It looks like thus far, MM and BM and fairly neck and neck.  I didn't get a lot of chance to play with the new MM set bonuses on the PTR, so I'm mostly guessing as to how they'll affect our builds going into mythic, but it does look, so far, like MM will be pulling ahead a bit with the new set bonuses and higher gear levels.  And hopefully we'll find a place for SV, though it's looking to be a fairly mediocre tier for Survival. 

Thrill of the Taxa: Legion Pets


wolfhawk world of warcraft hunters

Thrill of the Taxa is a series where everyone's favorite hunter/behavioral ecologist Aukatos is going over hunter pets from a biological lens. With the introduction of tameable "feathermanes" in patch 7.2, we thought it would be fun to revisit the series looking at the new legion tameables.

Feathermanes, and a Recap Thus Far


Hello again! A lot has happened in Azeroth since we last experienced the Thrill of the Taxa, looking in detail at how our pets resembled or differed from their real-life counterparts.

Since we’ve already gone into the details of each taxonomic family, I won’t be discussing those so much as how the new families fit in to what we’ve already established. If you need a refresher, check out the other articles here: Mammals, Inverts, Archosaurs, and Reptiles.

Oxen

First, let’s just get it out of the way that the term Ox refers specifically to a domestic male bovine that’s been castrated (often synonymous with steer). So, by naming the family “Oxen”, Blizzard has basically given us “Cows” as a family. 

That being said, oxen (cattle) are mammals from the family Bovidae. This family encompasses many hoofed mammals, from our domesticated cattle to goats, from bison to antelope. In WoW, the Oxen family currently encompasses Yaks, Musken, and Shoveltusks. Yaks are pretty closely-related domestic cattle, so that makes sense. If I had to guess, Musken in-game are probably the Azerothian version of Muskox. However, if so, muskox are actually pretty far-removed taxonomically from oxen, being more closely related to goats and antelopes. Since we have goats as a family in-game, and talbuks in the stag family, this placement is a little farther-reaching.

Shoveltusks are the last member of the Oxen family in-game, and are a little bit of a conundrum because they don’t really resemble any extant (currently-living) species. However, if we go back in time a little to the Cenozoic era, there are many incredible mammals that went extinct as the climate changed and humans moved across the world. Perhaps shoveltusks would be better placed with Brontotherium. What do you think?


Scalehides

Mushan and Stegodons are clearly reptilian in appearance, with Stegodons being a direct derivative of Stegosaurus (and more akin to Archosaurs than current reptiles). Then we have Kodos, which have been a staple of WoW since 2004. Kodos appear to fit the outline of the other Scalehides on the surface, or perhaps another Cenozoic mammal, Megacerops. Regardless, Kodos are almost certainly mammals (See all the hair?) placed in a “family” with reptiles. I get the fantasy I suppose, but perhaps this warrants further clarification.



Fig 1. A Shoveltusk (left) and a Wooly Kodo (right), compared to an artist’s depiction of a Cenozoic mammal, a Brontotherium (center).
Delirium's Side Note:  This my friend Kristin and I pretending to be Megacerops at a digsite-turned-national-park in South Dakota. I know, I know, we are awfully cool.

Feathermanes


While the community hasn’t been exactly rabid for tameable gryphons and wyverns, these non-tameable beasts have been in the game since Vanilla, with nearly every expansion increasing their diversity.

First, this is definitely another example of what we call a “junk taxa”. As a reminder, a junk taxa is a grouping of species that is likely taxonomically incorrect, but is established nonetheless because a better phylogeny hasn’t been proposed. So, while we have obviously very distantly-related species in this “Family”, there are a couple similarities: most are merger of two or more taxa, and most of these mergers are avian + mammal.

There are six different species that make up the Feathermane family, according to the most recent info on Petopia. We have:

Gryphons = lions + eagles
Hippogryphs (two models) = gryphon + horse
Owlcats = self-explanatory
Wolfhawks = self-explanatory
Wyvern = a little more complicated, see below
The above are mostly a combination of two different animals (technically three with hippogryphs) with the exception of wyvern. Wyvern are likely mammalian in nature, and could almost be some bygone evolutionary split from bats if it wasn’t for the tail. If I had to settle on a combo, I’d say mammal + arachnid, as the tail is clearly related to a scorpion’s tail, even so far as to contain venom capable of putting its prey, or member of the opposing faction, to sleep.

In other lore, wyverns are dragon-like creatures, which doesn’t match up with wind riders very well. Manticores, however, are a much better match. Manticores vary by local mythos, but at least some of them have the body of a lion, a human-like head, the tail of a scorpion, and the wings of a bat. If this were the case, instead of a merger of two animals, you would have a quad-species combo.

Fig 2. Feathermanes! Griffins, Wyvern, Owlcats, and Hippogryphs are currently in-game as representatives of this family. Wolfhawks are coming soon, as Hunter class mounts. Let it be noted that Owlcats are just another step towards taming Druids.

Arcane Origins

There is one big question surrounding Feathermanes: how did they come to exist? At the moment, the only clue we have related to the origin of Feathermanes is the very item used to tame them: Tome of the Hybrid Beast. Hybrid Kinship suggests an actual combination event of the involved species long ago.

That’s not to say hybrids don’t occur naturally. In fact, hybridization between two (or more) species is not uncommon in nature, and happens across the entire spectrum of life. Plants can hybridize with similar plants, mammals can hybridize with similar mammals, and so on. However, the further away the taxa are, the more difficult it becomes to produce a viable offspring.

Cool and Crazy Creatures

Outside Azeroth, our own Earth has a stunning diversity of animal life, which comes in all kinds of crazy shapes and sizes. Around us, there exist actual animals that could represent something like these hybrid beasts we’re clamoring for. Let’s take a look at a couple categories of “hybrid” beasts: missing links and combination animals.


Missing links

What if we took a fish, and crossed it with an amphibian? If it had fins, and those fins had bones like our arms and legs, could move independently, and could support some weight, we'd have the Coelacanths, a relic of prehistoric times which are more closely-related to mammals than they are to most other fish. The fins of these fish are just as described above: less like fins and more like the limbs of an amphibian. Coelacanths are commonly called “living fossils” and are the last remnants of the group of fishes that were thought to have moved out of the water and evolved over time into amphibians. These are so rare, scientists thought they had gone extinct 66 MILLION years ago. Then, in 1938, a specimen was caught and the species was “brought back to life.” Crazy, huh!?

What if we took a bird and crossed it with a reptile? Perhaps it would be mostly bird-like, but maybe with patches of bare, reptilian skin? Perhaps it would have not only scaled feet, but also claws on its wings to help it climb trees. Wouldn’t that be neat? As you might have guessed, I’ve been describing another living-fossil, the Hoatzin bird (pronounced ho-ah-tzen, or Watson). These crazy-looking birds are in a Family all their own, dating back to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Perhaps the most striking physical feature of these birds can be best seen in the chicks – young Hoatzins have claws on their wings, like many of the prehistoric birds did, that help them climb back into the nest when they fall out. The claws recede as the wing develops, until they’re mature enough to fly.

Fig 3. Real-life missing links! Both of these crazy creatures, the coelacanth (left) and Hoatzin birds (right), are real and still exist today! Of special note, the Hoatzin chicks (far right) have claws on their wings, not too unlike some Archosaurs we’ve looked at previously. 

Combination Animals

Perhaps the most well-known crazy cluster of an animal is the platypus. When you take an otter, and cross it with a duck, you’ve got this Austrialian species. Platypuses are taxonomically distinct from all other mammals, with marsupials being their closest relatives. Evolutionary grab-bag appearance aside, there are a couple of really interesting fact about platypuses: they lay eggs; they hunt by detecting the faint electricity produced by the bodies of their prey; males have venomous spurs that can be incredibly painful to humans.

If you took an armadillo and crossed it with an anteater, and taught it to climb trees, you'd get the Pangolin. These little armored mammals eat primarily ants and termites, and can roll up in balls covered in hard scales which can protect them from predators. Even lions have a hard time breaking through a pangolin’s armor.

What if we crossed a kangaroo with a rabbit, then crossed that cross with a mouse? Can you guess what it looks like? Look no further than the Jerboa! These tiny mice are just as described. These tiny rodents hop around on their kangaroo-like legs, and can reach speeds of about 15mph! Not bad for something that can fit in the palm of your hand. Being primarily nocturnal, they use their large rabbit-like ears for detecting predators, and sometimes hunting for (tiny) prey. Jerboas are native to Asia and Africa, and are not to be confused with the kangaroo mice we have in southern United States.


Fig 4. The platypus (left), the pangolin (middle), and jerboa (right), are just a sampling of the oddities of our world. 

Updates heading into Tomb



After a bit of a break, missing about a month of raiding, I got back into the action this past week, and started tackling preparations for Tomb coming out this month.

The best surprise for me, upon my return, was that our raid team has shifted from almost all Melee DPS to slightly more Ranged than Melee, so for the first time ever, I was able to raid as Survival on every boss.  I'm still loving the spec, it's just so much more interesting and engaging than anything BM or MM have to offer.

There are some downsides, however.  Mostly, it's quite a lot of work to achieve some fairly mediocre DPS.  There are a few fights that I can start to compete for top DPS, but it requires a good bit of luck, and at least a little bit of cheesing on the adds. On our Tichondrius kill this week, I actually screwed up quite a bit, but then was able to pull ahead of the other hunters, at least with the help of a little cheese on the adds. To be clear, I mean Explosive Trap and Caltrops hitting adds that were close to the boss, so not pure cheese like spamming butchery, but still, it was a fair bit of meaningless damage, just to keep from hurting my ego too bad.

Speaking of, I'm still just down right terrible at playing Melee.  I've been playing mostly melee for the entire raid, and it's still a struggle.  I may need to seek out some non-hunter sources for what melee are actually supposed to be doing all the time.

As for the melee to ranged shift, interestingly enough, the majority of that, for our raid team, came in the form of BM Hunters.  We had 3 hunters already, including myself.  One enh shaman who decided to swap to BM Hunter for Tomb, and is gearing up his hunter now.  And one new BM Hunter who met several of our raid team members through random M+, and was slowly recruited over.  We also have a paladin who keeps his Hunter alt geared through M+ and is hoping to bring that character for farm nights and such.  So we may have as many as 6 hunters running at a time, with at least 4 normally.  Now I find myself wishing we had less Relic slots in common...

AP and Artifact Weapons


I'm very curious to hear how the more hardcore people are handling their weapons.  I've currently got my SV weapon at 53 traits (I only meant to go to 52, but I forget to swap specs before using the tokens sometimes), MM at 51, and BM at 48.  I'll be getting my last Artifact Knowledge tomorrow around 4pm, at which point I think it's going to be quite easy to finish off my two off specs before tomb comes out, and hopefully put a few more points into SV.

I haven't been too involved with the community lately, but I imagine if I'm at this point hardly playing at all, then surely a lot of people have all three weapons up to 52, and at least one up a bit higher than that.  I recall the scaling AP costs gets fairly crazy once you get 3 or 4 traits above 52, but still, there's a lot of AP to be had now that we're at higher AK.

Hunting Party Podcast and Thrill of the Wild Updates


We're taking a little hiatus at the Hunting Party Podcast.  Scheduling to get all of us around has been fairly difficult, and I think there's just a lack of motivation in general.  Hopefully with the new raid coming out, and the quality of life changes for BM, we'll see a bit more excitement around the hunter class and we can find some of that old Hunter spirit that we've been missing.  It seems the WHU facebook page is still going strong, and there are obviously still a lot of great people playing Hunters, we've just got to find eachother.

As for Thrill of the Wild, I feel like I just finished updating all of the ability formulas from patch 7.1.5 (though I suppose I was a bit late with that), and now I've got to retest everything for 7.2.5.  It sounds like there aren't too many changes though, so hopefully I'll have that done quickly and can get around to some more interesting theorycrafting.

I've also got a new "Thrill of the Taxa" article from my buddy Auk to post, which hopefully I'll get up in a day or two.  This time he dove into "Meowls", in honor of now being able to tame half-breeds, and even took a look at some real life examples of animals that appear to come from multiple different Orders or Classes.

You know, I don't do enough rambling blog-style posts like this.  Maybe I should post more even if I don't have any interesting theorycrafting done.