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Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's Resolutions for Hunters and for Blizzard

The New Year is considered by many people to be the time for a fresh start, a time to wipe the slate clean of past missteps, or just to make some changes to your life to make it even better. In that spirit, I'd like to propose some Hunter-related resolutions for both Blizzard and for Hunters in the spirit of promoting peace, harmony, and understanding in the new year for all Survivalists, Marksmen, and Beastmasters.

Resolutions for Blizzard

1. Take a very close look at the Hunter changes coming in 3.0.8: I don't call them nerfs because there are some things that are technically buffs. But overall, the changes are not only slightly confusing, but could end up being unnecessary and hurting us. I won't go through the specifics, as Big Red Kitty has done that pretty well in the above link, but it's worth mentioning that some end-game Hunters are starting to show log parses that may question the need for these changes. It appears that once people catch up in gear, Hunters start pulling even if damage, especially if they aren't specced for Bestial Wrath/Readiness. This may be similar to the problems Feral Druids had at the beginning of Burning Crusade. Because they scaled so well with basic statistics, they dominated for leveling. But once people caught up in gear, they were specifically middle of the road again.

The same thing could happen when people get Resilience gear in PvP. Now that armor penetration is a lot worse than it was, we could find our damage becomes somewhat ineffective against people who are tricked out in PvP gear. It may be, of course, that PvP damage will need an across the board nerf, but in that case, it should be across the board, and not just focused on Hunters. Too much overnerfing could doom Hunters to mediocrity for a few patches, and that's something none of us wants.

2. Fix the Pet Autocast bug: This bug has been around at varying levels of severity since Wrath Beta, and it's still not fixed. We know that Blizzard is aware of it, but so far, they haven't seem to have made any headway on fixing it. It's definitely annoying to have to specifically dedicate an extra macro or an extra pet bar key simply to keep growl or cower off or on in varying situations. If this isn't one of Blizzard's top bug-squishing priorities, it really should be.

3. Reconsider that whole melee thing: The dev team's latest idea for Hunter balancing is to go against conventional wisdom and nearly 5 years of desperate battle by Hunters to shed the label of being bad players: Meleeing. Now, don't get me wrong, sometimes it's a good idea to go against the grain, but this definitely isn't the time. Since our main problem in PvP is that we're essentially helpless once we're in melee range, it would seem like a good idea to simply make us a force in melee range as well.

The problem is, there's essentially two ways that can go: One, it won't be good enough. We won't be able to apply damage or debuffs fast enough before we're torn in two, and would be better served using our mana and global cooldown trying to escape back to ranged rather than apply DPS to the target. Two, we will be able to do well in melee range, in which case our weaknesses become almost non-existent and we're back to being called overpowered, because even if you close the distance with us, we can tear you up. The focus should really go back to what was started but never quite finished with the disengage move: Just make it easier for us to get back into ranged, where our strengths are.

4. Revamp Traps: The trap system is still restrictive and clunky. There really isn't another class that needs to "arm" it's crowd control method and plan far in advance to make sure it's successfully deployed. Plus, any damage or utility traps that aren't Frost or Freezing traps often get lost in the shuffle as we have to save our sole trap cooldown for crowd control.

Make traps trigger instantly. It will be no worse than a mage's sheep. It still be avoidable if the target isn't right on the Hunter's tail, and breakable or resistible by many forms of crowd control breaking. While we're at it, but that Bear Trap effect back. It was a nice, unique concept that helped give our crowd control a unique flavor and helped solve the problem of dealing with a slow to switch targets DPS who breaks traps with stray damage while you have 20 seconds left on your trap cooldown.

5. Take a second look at pet survivability: With the Hunter nerfs in part nerfing the damage of our pets by a whole lot, we really deserve another look at pet survivability. Our pets, at the moment, are stuck at 0 resilience or defense rating and the HP of a fresh level 80 in quest greens.We've asked again and again for just a small part of our resilience to be transferred to our pets, but Blizzard keeps rejecting the idea. But now that they're losing so much damage, it would be nice if they could at least get some staying power in PvP so they can actually survive long enough to use all these cool new abilities.

Luckily, Blizzard may be taking a second look at this.

For Hunters

1. Understand Blizzard's problem with Arena balancing: As I said above, balancing us for Arena is tough. It goes hand in hand with the whole melee problem I outlined above. Right now, our weaknesses are far too easy to exploit, but when we can overcome our weaknesses, we're actually pretty major powerhouses. Now I definitely fall on the side of thinking our weaknesses are a bit too easy to exploit still, but we should understand that Blizzard is taking a bit more of a cautious approach. Give them so time, give them some reasonable test data on the PTRs, and let's see if a bit of communication can help.

2. Focus on where we're good: We're still pretty dominant in battlegrounds, and Blizzard has begun making serious noise about making Battlegrounds a valid, skill-focus gear upgrade and PvP path to complement Arenas. If they can pull this off, it could be that we'll have a very nice PvP niche to fill.

And even if we are suddenly being pulled back down on the DPS meters as gear gets better, we're still pretty solid in PvE DPS. As long as we can keep from getting overnerfed, we have a pretty nice, solid place there, it's good to be thankful for that.

Right now Hunters are in a bit of a jumpy place as we wait to see what exactly the 3.0.8 nerfs bring to us, and where they leave us when Ulduar comes out. In that spirit, it's understandable that we feel a little jumpy. But it's still a brand new year and a brand new expansion, and I always like to keep it optimistic at the beginning of the year. If we keep on these resolutions and offer Blizzard solid evidence where we disagree with them and appreciation when we agree with them, I think this year is looking pretty good for Hunters. Happy New Year, everyone.


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