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Rethinking Marksmanship for Wrath of the Lich King

The weekend of endlessly flowing Alpha/Beta information is finally dying down. There are already many resources out there that provide summaries of changes for hunters, so I won’t get down into too much detail with that. But if you would like to keep away from the spoilers of the expansion, feel free to skip this post.

Arwin has tagged me and others to create a build using the new Wrath of the Lich King talent tree. Here’s what was asked of us as translated from Spanish.

Will you level using one talent tree and switch at level 80? Will you stay with a talent tree or will you explore others?

In addition, what kinds of builds would you be using?

Well, we headed over to the new talent calculators available for our use and played around with the Marksmanship tree for a bit.

Talents Revealed

When the new talent trees were revealed along with new special shots and skills, my first reaction was short of being awed. But upon further inspection, I’m starting to like them more and more. Then I looked over old posts by people who were speculating talents for the expansion.

  • Znodis had foreseen some sort of finishing shot ability that would deal a massive burst of damage to make an enemy die faster. This is realized with Kill Shot, except that it will be in the Survival tree. His idea of a talent to avoid casting interruption will be implemented as Focused Aim.
  • Rapid Recuperation followed along the lines of Amava’s idea of an improvement to Rapid Fire that would allow the regeneration of mana while the ability is active.
  • Kaamos also hit the nail on the head with Piercing Shots. Although the initial desired effect was armor reduction, the current version of the skill applies a general buff to Steady Shot and Aimed Shot that will ignore armor.
  • Wild Quiver is also similar to Arwin’s inception of Ghost Ammunition. We don’t know yet if the extra shots produced by this new talent will consume ammunition, but the concept of producing extra shots is very close.
  • We also asked for something that would increase overall damage of our attacks, since that’s what Marksmanship hunters are good at. Blizzard’s correct answer was Marked for Death.

It’s amazing to see that many people thinking very different things can come up with the same talents that Blizzard had been planning for hunters. This also tells you that the general community is not far off in their visions of the direction that the hunter class should be going towards.

Choosing Trees

With these talents, it appears Blizzard is making each tree more specialized and unique from the other. To answer Arwin’s first question, I like doing a lot of damage and seeing big numbers in my combat log, hence I think I will stay with Marksmanship at this point. However, I’m also afraid that specialization in our own trees will leave my pet very much behind. The downside to trying to obtain the 51-point talent is that you leave no room for improvement in the other trees. I will still have 20 points or less to spend elsewhere. In the end, I may end up having to explore the other trees as well at level 80 before settling on one.

Designing the Build

The hard part is how to build a good talent tree after things like Careful Aim has been shifted around. I like that the maximum rank now increases ranged attack power by 100% of Intellect rather than 45%, but it makes it harder to choose from the lower tier talents.

If I remember correctly (because I wasn’t around then), Blizzard allowed everyone a free respec when Burning Crusade was released. I am assuming that they will do that again when Wrath of the Lich King is released. I respecced to 7/45/9 this past weekend to better suit my raiding needs.

When Patch 3.0.1 is released, I am currently planning to respec back to a 7/42/12 that I can use for leveling and going into instances. This build pretty much keeps much of the talents I previously used before I started raiding. The only notable difference is that with the redesigning of the bottom Marksmanship tiers, we’re able to take up both Improved Hunter’s Mark and Efficiency at the same time! We also took up Clever Traps again to improve our utility in dungeons.

So for the next 10 levels, we’ll take the following talents:

  1. Levels 71-73: Take up Improved Steady Shot. Our reason for choosing this over Wild Quiver is in the tooltip of talent itself. Wild Quiver only procs when we are dealing damage to our target. As we upgrade our gear from epics to greens, we lose our hit cap. If we start missing our targets, Wild Quiver would have gone to waste. The other talent is then the best option because it will increase your raw damage.
  2. Levels 74-78: Marked for Death is an obvious choice since we’ll be increasing our critical strikes against marked targets.
  3. Level 79: Stings should still remain useful when you are playing to level and going into instances. Therefore, we’re taking up Chimera Shot. Depending on which sting you use, it can either help you as a self buff or your party for utility purposes as you level and play in dungeons.
  4. Level 80: It is unlikely that you will immediately be ready for raids when you reach the level cap once again. Since there’s really not much else we can do, let’s increase our utility a bit more. Put the last point to finish up 3/3 Entrapment in the Survival tree.

Your final build will look like 7/51/13. This should be fine until we get into raids. Since raid content is still some time away in Beta, I won’t go into developing a build for that yet. I’m sure more information about these new abilities will come through over the next few months as data is being collected by the theorycrafters out there. Only when we get more information will we be able to make a good judgment as to what’s useful in raiding and what isn’t.

Loyal Companion

Don’t forget your leveling pet. From the talents we’ve taken above, we increased all damage done by us, but nothing done by our pets. This is a kind of a shame as we mentioned above because we’ll only be buffing them through attack power scaling when we increase it. I point you over to Petopia’s Pet Talents table and Mania’s information on modifiers to explore the three talent trees available for pets.

  • Cunning: utility, perhaps more useful in PvP
  • Ferocity: DPS, likely to be useful in instances and group play
  • Tenacity: tanking, for solo leveling or emergency off-tanking in instances

Since I don’t have enough information at the moment to see how the trees can be set up, I will delay that information until further notice.

I hope this was a useful rundown on my thoughts and expectation of the changes coming for marksmen in the expansion pack. Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts, or information you may have that I could have overlooked. If any new information comes up, feel free to post them here as well!

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2 responses

  1. Great post ^^, it’s very useful to read about MM. It’s seems to be rockin’ on WOTLK

    23 July 2008 at 07:31

  2. I was reading along, and thought, hey, I know that blogger Loronar’s linking to :-)

    Thx for the link, and thanks for the blog. A great read!!!

    Regarding which spec to go with in WotLK, I’m on the fence.

    Part of me runs as a Beast Master because I chose playing Hunter specifically because I wanted to have a pet. BM felt natural, buffing the pet and what not. Then, a while after that, I found BRK’s site (and blogs in general) and learned about the 41/20/0 spec that allows for some pretty nice damage output in raids.

    Once the theorycrafters come out with the “must have” spec for raiding Hunters in WotLK, if there’s no clear BM spec in there, I’ll be torn between my love of my pet, and my love of kicking @ss.

    24 July 2008 at 09:01

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