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Around the Blogosphere: Hunterstalker

I’m part of the Facebook generation that had to register for the site using my college e-mail address. I remember after being accepted into college waiting for the day I would receive my new e-mail address just so I could check out this exclusive thing then called “the facebook”. It was only the second year the site had been around.

Facebook brought new meaning to the word “stalking”. While it’s still can still refer to the unwanted and obsessive behavior of following a person’s every action, the word also developed a new meaning. Now it can mean checking up on an old friend, a new acquaintance, or even a celebrity’s every move. It developed a new, innocent meaning.

The Armory on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft website has been around for quite some time, but it originally had no feed feature and was short on its functionality, so “stalking” had little instant gratification. Since the implementation of the new Battle.net website, Armory “stalking” had become pastime for some who wish to check in on acquaintances on other realms. There is no way to add a friend across realms, as the Armory was not designed to be a social hub, but many of us keep a library of characters of our comrades that we would check in on from time to time. This goes for many of us bloggers.

Along comes a brilliant idea to put this all together. Laeleiweyn of World of Lae has brought together all your favorite hunters to one location, at least virtually, at Hunterstalker.

Hunterstalker is a simple concept: check up on what your fellow hunters are doing, especially the ones with blogs, podcasts, or any form of Internet presence. It’s a simple list, but it gives a lot of information, and everything is displayed at a central location. It even includes links to the hunters’ web presence, if they have one.

We’re a generation of instant gratification. Lists like this allow us to instantly compare yourself to how you are performing against your favorite hunters in the blink of an eye. It could also generate ideas for you on how to itemize your gear, or perhaps tame the pets that they have. Imagine the endless possibilities!

Now, someone make this into a full-fledged website. Pretty please?


Hunter “Balance” Reaches Tipping Point in 4.3

As reported by MMO-Champion, a new test build is being deployed on the PTR today. While they call it “a very minor build with almost no changes”, it isn’t very minor at all for hunters.

  • Beast Mastery: Focus Fire now lasts 20 sec, up from 15 sec.
  • Survival: T.N.T. now has a 10/20% chance to proc, up from 6/12%.

This is an interesting buff on top of what the two trees are already getting because a developer mentioned this a few days ago, with my emphasis:

Our internal 4.3 testing for hunters shows Marksman, Survival, and Beast Mastery very close. This doesn’t always play out in encounters, because players often develop different strategies when encounters go live (than they did during PTR testing).

As with any vague blue post, this does not give any indication as to which talent tree is actually on top. However, the changes being deployed today might indicate that they think Survival and Beast Mastery performance can still go up a bit.

Assuming Patch 4.3 will be the last major patch before Mists of Pandaria, we can therefore observe the overall changes that have happened with hunter talent trees during Cataclysm:

  1. Beast Mastery has always been getting buffed, but gradually.
  2. Marksmanship received the strongest one-time buff and was nerfed slightly later on.
  3. Survival received the strongest one-time nerf and is being restored near its original state.

If you monitor the talent tree changes that occur in 4.0.6, 4.2.0, and 4.3.0, Beast Mastery’s passive mastery will now be twice as powerful as it was during release of Cataclysm. For Survival hunters, the early reduction in Black Arrow damage has since been negated, and Explosive Shot will return near its original state with this new patch.

Now pay attention to the second sentence of that blue post. The takeaway message of that part of the blue post is that the “balance” they are currently seeing may not be replicated when Dragon Soul goes live next month. Therefore, the changes being deployed in the realms today may be the buffer for that “just in case” scenario.

It is likely that with this change, we’ll be seeing some fights where one talent tree will perform better over the other two, and one of the other two trees will perform better on a different fight, and so on. This is true “balance”, where the talent trees’ strengths are played out according to different encounters, not that all three specializations perform equally for every individual encounter.

So why is this the tipping point? Because DPS can never be truly balanced. Instead, it hovers around a state where DPS will favor one specialization at a given point of time and then gravitate toward another at a different point of time. Call it a sine wave if you’re familiar with mathematics, and the “balance” is what you would call convergence. If this is what the developers have in mind, it is what we will finally see after next month’s patch.

(I put the word “balance” in quotes because, although people like to see that word thrown around, it’s a very vague concept that has no actual meaning. Talent tree balance is a subjective thing and can be seen differently depending on the person assessing this imaginary state of affairs.)


Re-learning Your Hunter for 4.3

At the end of last week, Blizzard decided to post an explanation of what class changes they are making for balancing. Here’s what they had to say about hunters:

We provided a modest DPS buff for Beast Mastery and Survival hunters to help them catch up with the Marksman spec. As I mentioned above, we wouldn’t consider it a success if we made every Marks hunter respec to Survival, so our intent is to get close without going over. BM also suffers from a lack of AE damage, so we increased the damage of two of their AE pets.

While Marksmanship will retain its crown in the upcoming patch, the other two talent trees will get a nice boost to balance out the hunter class a bit more. I know I’ve been an advocate of Marksmanship for a long time, but this would be a great opportunity for those who want to try learning the other trees. This is your last chance before hunter mechanics completely change for Mists of Pandaria.

I started using Survival as a full-time talent tree of choice at the end of 4.1, and it’s been a great alternative after playing Marksmanship for so long. It may have even made me a better hunter because I’ve been able to push myself a bit harder to make up for the loss of DPS from not using Marksmanship as a primary specialization. I can still hold my own quite well against the other Marksmanship hunters in and out of my guild.

While some people choose to use Marksmanship to further their guilds’ progression, keep in mind that it’s also your character to play. If you think you can improve your own gameplay by using another talent tree, I don’t see why your raid leader should object to it. It’s as if you are undergoing a self-study to make yourself a better hunter, and nothing is better for your DPS than trying to push new limits.

One example I can provide is Survival’s Lock and Load proc. I’ve learned that it doesn’t hurt to throw an Ice Trap every now and then to manually trigger Lock and Load during key phases of both trash and boss fights. The two free Explosive/Arcane Shots also teach you how to effectively weave them into your rotation to maximize the damage over time. Playing with other talent trees will let you experience skills you may not use as much as a Marksmanship hunter. I still hope to be able to properly learn Beast Mastery at some point before the next expansion.

If your progression isn’t being stifled, don’t be afraid to try something new because it may give you a new perspective on how to play your hunter.


Zero to Hero with Dark Days

About a week and a half ago, I entered a Firelands progression raid for the first time. I had been there before for trash farming (without much success other than getting my reputation to Honored with Avengers of Hyjal). At that point, I had come back after three months without playing, so I wasn’t sure about my raid awareness from being away for so long.

Incredibly, our ragtag group of ten members, most of whom had not raided together previously, were able to kill every single boss leading up to Fandral Staghelm. Five out of seven on our first raid night together? I’d say that’s pretty impressive. After some discussion at the end of the night, we decided to return the following day to try our hand at Staghelm and Ragnaros. We killed Staghelm on our second attempt after becoming familiar with the mechanics the previous night. Ragnaros? Well, we killed him on our eighth attempt. Firelands cleared in one week!

So let’s back up a bit. How was this possible? It’s all thanks to the leadership of an acquaintance, whom I met earlier in the expansion, in a newly formed guild called Dark Days. Previously, my guild Near Death had become stagnant for quite some time, after our guild leader (who was also a raid leader) disappeared, leaving much disarray in our rosters as well as our progression. After several months of piggybacking off several guilds’ progression raids (during which I got my Defender of a Shattered World title), I decided to take a leap of faith and change my guild for a permanent spot.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with guild frustration. If you were a reader of this blog during Burning Crusade, you may remember my frustration with tier 5 content. One thing I’ve learned all these years is to stop becoming too attached to the guild I am in if it stifles my personal progression and enjoyment. On Friday, we went back to Firelands for my first 25-man raid since Black Temple. Of course it was chaotic, but it was also very nostalgic to think back to 25-man raiding in Outland.

Although we only managed to kill Beth’tilac and Shannox this time, it was a nice change of pace from the 10-man raiding we’ve all become accustomed to. The difficult part in transitioning into 25-man raiding is giving instructions to twice as many people, and we are still learning how to keep everyone under control in Ventrilo. However, having a raid leader who can push my progression limit is very rewarding; I’m happy with the transition that I’ve made.

I myself am surprised that I can still compete for the top DPS with an item level of only 366 when some others are already above 370. I’ve decided to take a break from Marksmanship for a bit and go Survival. It’s been serving me well.

Dark Days is recruiting experienced DPS classes of all types, though our highest priority are ranged casters. We are going to continue with 25-man raiding from here on. If you are on US-Eredar, Alliance side, or are looking to transfer a character, feel free to drop me a word (here or in-game), and I will send you to the person to speak with.

We’re already getting a lot of attention for our success, and we’ll try our best not to disappoint.


Hunter: A 2011 Blizzcon Arena Tournament Winner

If PvP and arenas are your thing, you will want to watch the grand final matches of the Blizzcon Arena Tournament between Skill Capped of the United States and OMG of South Korea. OMG was the only team in the tournament to utilize a hunter in its composition, alongside a paladin and a death knight. Even as a person who doesn’t PvP much, it’s great to be able to see a hunter pushing all of his abilities to the limit and defying expectations.


Pandaria is Outland 2.0

Blizzcon is probably as good of a time as any to get back into blogging, especially after a three-month prolonged summer break. I logged on again two weeks ago, and it didn’t take long before I picked up where I left off on PvE content. But that’s a story for tomorrow. Today, we’ll talk about the hubbub that surrounds the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

Pandaria is a new five-zone continent. There is also a sixth zone (not in the map above) for new Pandaren players who begin at level 1. Although we don’t know much about Pandaria other than getting clues from videos Blizzard has shown us, we do know one thing. Pandaria is so far removed from the other civilizations of Azeroth that it almost feels like a second Outland, just not as harsh. The designers have already mentioned several things that are reminiscent of player experience during the beginning of Burning Crusade:

  • Very large zones, without access to a flying mount until level 90;
  • City services (auction house, bank, etc.) will be at a a single questing hub;
  • Introduction of lore aside from the primary storyline;
  • Dungeon exteriors will be visible and not hidden behind a portal;
  • Return of world (raid?) bosses.

While it’s true that Northrend was, in some aspects, a revised version of Outland, it still followed the primary storyline of the Warcraft franchise: the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde. Outland and Pandaria are different in that they introduced two unique races whose representation in the franchise prior to World of Warcraft was lacking: the Draenei (along with their Broken brethren) and the Pandaren.

I’ve seen many players reminisce about the good days of the first expansion. Perhaps Mists of Pandaria will appeal to all the Burning Crusade babies (or veterans now, perhaps). Who knows? Maybe there will be something like the merciless Fel Reavers of Hellfire Peninsula in the Jade Forest.


Round the World We Go

Once again, I am making a pilgrimage back home to Southeast Asia. I can’t guarantee a regular update schedule over the next month, but I hope you’ll still read my entries when they come up~!

Happy hunting to everyone, and may your weapons strike where it hurts the most.


Updates from the Front

It looks like the pre-reset daily reset was indeed a bug. I was still able to gain a few extra marks on Wednesday night, but no longer on Thursday. Blizzard probably admits among themselves they made a mistake on this bug, but reverting tames and Marks on the numerous people who unknowingly stumbled upon this bug would cause a giant mess.

It is no longer possible to complete some daily quests more than once a day by turning them in during a small window before the standard reset time.

When I returned to the Molten Front the afternoon after I got in early, I went back to see which beasts were still up. Skarr had respawned, and Deth’tilac seemed to have been tamed. However, I returned again about an hour before the rush began when everyone would arrive at the Front. Immediately, someone beckons me over to the Forlorn Spire area, where Deth’tilac had respawned. Initially, I was hesitant to take the effort to kite him for so long in order to tame him, but when I started, it seems that person called over his friends to help me kite the spider. What ensued was 10 minutes back and forth with Deth’tilac, getting rooted, trapped, etc.

I’m still waiting on Karkin to spawn whenever I’m at the Front, but I think having three of the five spiders is enough. I don’t have room in my stable anymore.

Firelands has been fun, though I’ve only been doing trash runs and not bosses. Last night, I managed to hit honored with the Avengers of Hyjal, so a nifty new cloak and belt were in order for me. No epics have dropped from trash for me yet, though.

If you have not already, you should try getting to the top of this spider hill. This is probably one of the most fun achievements in the game right now. I bet you could even make some sort of game out of this.

How have the Molten Front and Firelands been treating you?


Server First Tames: Anthriss, Solix, Skarr

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you some server first tames from the Molten Front!

Anthriss

Solix

Skarr

This is not a joke. As proof, here is the direct link to Skarr in my stable. Anthriss and Solix models have not been uploaded into the Armory yet. For more details on my taming, head over to the Petopia forums where I summarized how I went about taming them.

How did this happen you ask? It was nothing short of a miracle.

Eredar is an Eastern time zone server, whose dailies are supposed to reset at 4 a.m. I returned to the Sanctuary of Malorne at 3:30 intending to wait for the daily reset, except I found out that it had already reset, so I actually managed to get 16 Marks of the World Tree on the first day. At 4 a.m., the dailies reset again, giving me another 4 Marks of the World Tree, thus completing the 20 I needed to turn in to get into the Molten Front. I was one of only a handful of people who discovered this, so the Molten Front was very sparsely populated.

This is not the only reported case of a double daily reset, as several people on the Petopia forums have also gotten server first tames.

I am requesting name suggestions for these three pets!

Best of luck to everyone hunting them and the other new rare pets.

P.S. Deth’tilac is scary!


Patch 4.2: Small Changes, Big Impact

Here we are, 9 weeks after the last content update. Patch 4.2 is rolling out on the live realms as we speak. For hunters, our changes are actually limited compared to several other classes. Sometimes I’m surprised that every major patch, the mechanics of other classes seem to change so much that I can never keep up with the latest play style. For hunters however, we usually get a few changes, yet these changes make such a big impact in the way we play.

(Hey, at the very least, hunter challenges have returned, for pet taming that is. This brings back the spirit of classic World of Warcraft when hunters would go on an epic quest across the world to assemble powerful weapons. Petopia has the latest.)

Let’s give some examples.

Crowd Control

Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: [...] Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap [...].

Misdirecting to a tank prior to trap-pulling has become second nature for quite some time, to the point that I’ve become very efficient with it. Even with the simple removal of aggro, old habits die hard. It’s likely that I will find myself continue to misdirect to the tank prior to placing a trap. After all, not all our traps are for crowd control. I find myself using Explosive Trap lately for speedier runs through the Troll heroic dungeons.

Pet Behavior

The Aggressive pet stance has been removed and replaced with the Assist stance. This stance will cause the player’s pet to attack the player’s target. The pet will not change targets unless the master attacks a new target for a few seconds.

The Defensive pet stance will now only cause the player’s pet to attack enemies which attack the pet or the master.

Stances remain confusing. The change may seem simple, but this will initially cause some confusion among inexperienced hunters. I imagine during the first few hours of the patch going live, every hunter will have to get used to these new stances. The old descriptions sounded much clearer.

Numbers, numbers, numbers

Careful Aim now grants additional critical strike chance against targets over 90% health, up from 80% health.

Black Arrow damage done has been increased by roughly 40%.

On the surface, these are merely numerical changes, yet they make all the difference. Careful Aim, which has been the sole reason the current Marksmanship shot rotation is designed the way it is, gets a significant beating. On the other hand, a simple numerical change to Black Arrow makes it more powerful. Hopefully,  it will also bring Survival back near the top of the charts.

Multi-shot damage has been reduced. It now deals 120% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 137%.

Multi Shot, however, will probably go down in history as the ability with a series of indecisive changes that seemed like a trial-and-error work-in-progress. Hunter area damage has not been consistent at all in this expansion.

Patch 4.2 Roundup

And since tier 11 content has not been kind to me with regards to a ranged weapon, it’s time for me to stop being bitter and move on to the [Extreme-Impact Hole Puncher].


Cataclysm Ranged Weapons: Review and Preview

This morning’s update on MMO-Champion included the latest addition of weapons added to the Firelands loot, which includes an epic 384-item-level bow. This means tier 12 content will see one of each type of ranged weapon being added. However, that doesn’t actually change the balance of ranged weapons currently in place in Cataclysm.

Let’s take a look at all ranged weapons with item level 333 and above. Notice also that we have a throat needler, a chicken splitter, and a hole puncher. What silly name will the developers come up with next?

Bows

Bows are the most abundant ranged weapon in Cataclysm, with almost as many bows as there are crossbows and guns combined. Many players seeking to enter heroic dungeons start out with a bow. Soon, the new Zul’Gurub bow will replace the varying 346-item-level weapons as the new standard for entering raids. Don’t we have too many bows already? Moreover, Arathar will be the new best-in-slot weapon for tier 12 raiding.

Crossbows

So far, crossbows remain limited in this expansion, with only three weapons on live and one in development. They are also more difficult to obtain for the casual player because one cannot simply enter heroic dungeons daily for that drop. The three crossbows listed here are created by engineering, bought with Tol Barad Commendations, and drops from a raid boss. Granted, Dragonheart Piercer is a best-in-slot item for tier 11 raids, but that’s only a single crossbow.

Guns

While it is true that no epic level gun has yet appeared in game, guns are actually just about as rare as crossbows in Cataclysm, with only three available on live and one in development. At the very least, one can easily enter Vortex Pinnacle every day to get a decent gun, unlike crossbows. As much we like the addition of the new gun in the 4.2, we’ve also come to realize that it is only the new superior level weapon and doesn’t compare to anything that drops in Firelands.

Scopes

It has been pointed out that [Flintlocke's Woodchucker] is an homage to a series of webcomic strips from 2008 that make up Episode 7 of Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth. It explains why not many people understand the reference because the golden days of WoW webcomics and blogging have ended. If you would like to compare how the new scope holds out against the [Gnomish X-Ray Scope], head over to Rapid Fire to see the mathematical comparison.


Do These Talents Belong in the Wrong Tree?

Thanks to WoW Insider‘s recent breakfast topic looking back on the talent tree reboot, some players are now revisiting their new talent trees with further scrutiny. Hunter talent trees probably received some of the most effective tree redesigns in Cataclysm. However, a few talents still stand out as odd balls in their current locations.

In the Beast Mastery tree, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera is still regarded by many as a puzzling talent which does not fit the nature of the tree. Comparatively, Marksmanship hunters wonder why Resistance is Futile is so deep in their talent tree. And while Survival has the most logical talent structure of the three trees, sometimes I wonder why Sniper Training is where it is.

Because these three talents are located so far deep into their respective trees, they are inaccessible to from other specializations because of the 31-talent specialization lockout that was implemented in Cataclysm.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera

When fully talented, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera (Rank 2) provides the following benefit:

Whenever you are hit by a melee attack, the cooldown of your Disengage is instantly reduced by 4 sec. Whenever you are hit by a ranged attack or spell, the cooldown of your Deterrence is instantly reduced by 8 sec. These effects have a 2 sec cooldown.

What the developers thought: When Beast Mastery hunters are hit by a melee attack, their pets will need time to grab the attention of the attacker from the hunter, so let’s provide some protection for them!

What the reality is: When Beast Mastery hunters are hit by a melee attack, they can probably just as effectively Feign Death and cast Bestial Wrath.

What makes it wrong: Although Disengage and Deterrence have their PvE functions, this Beast Mastery talent mostly screams “Survival!” to me because the original roots of the Survival tree revolved around boosting the capabilities of our close combat spells. This talent is not only useful to Beast Mastery hunters; it is useful to everyone. If it were in a lower Survival tier, the talent would be more accessible to all hunters, especially for those who would like more utility for PvP or any other occasion.

Resistance is Futile

When fully talented, Resistance is Futile (Rank 2) provides the following benefit:

When your marked target attempts to run, flee or move, you have a 8% chance to cause your next Kill Command on the marked target within 8 sec to refund the focus cost.

What the developers thought: When Marksmanship hunters’ marked target attempts to run, flee or move, let’s give them the chance to kill it faster with more abilities!

What the reality is: When Marksmanship hunters’ marked target attempts to run, flee or move, they can easily switch into Aspect of the Fox and gain the same benefit from chasing it.

What makes it wrong: It is currently uneconomical to use Kill Command in a Marksmanship hunter rotation. Because this talent revolves around Kill Command, it loudly screams “Beast Mastery!” In reality, this talent is also very useful in PvE situations because its benefit should be attainable whenever a tank move a boss or a trash mob is being kited, for example. If this talent were moved to a lower tier in the Beast Mastery tree, it would probably see more use from Beast Mastery and Survival hunters.

Sniper Training

When fully talented, Sniper Training (Rank 3) provides the following benefit:

Increases the critical strike chance of your Kill Shot ability by 15%, and after remaining stationary for 6 sec, your Steady Shot and Cobra Shot deal 6% more damage for 15 sec.

What the developers thought: After Survival hunters remain stationary for 6 seconds, they should be able to kill things faster because they’re always on the move!

What the reality is: Hunters are always on the move, especially Survival hunters.

What makes it wrong: Survival hunters don’t use Steady Shot in their rotation. This makes a portion of Sniper Training’s benefit unfulfilled. An alternate location such as the lower tier of the Marksmanship tree (where the name would match the nature of the tree) would make this accessible to Beast Mastery and Survival hunters, fulfilling the benefit of both Steady Shot and Cobra Shot as well as providing an equal buff to all Kill Shots. Speculatively speaking, it is possible that if Sniper Training were in another tree, Into the Wilderness would not have to be nerfed.


PTR 4.2: Firelands and Baradin Hold

Firelands was opened for testing yesterday for approximately 2 hours on the Public Test Realms. Beth’tilac, a lava spider boss, was the subject of the test, and Blizzard made it easier for eager testers to experience the encounter by removing all trash mobs from the raid area. About an hour prior to the raid’s opening, I joined Matticus and his guildmates from Conquest to prepare for a tour of Firelands and the new Baradin Hold encounter.

The raid environment of Firelands is very new and different from what we’ve all seen in Molten Core. From the lava pools to the fiery spider webs, the texture of the landscape was visually refreshing. Beth’tilac has a mechanic somewhat reminiscent of Magmaw, except with tiny spiders instead of maggots. We were able to learn that these spiders have predefined spawn points near tiny eggs around the edge of the room. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to be killed before a server shutdown was initiated.

You can find more details about the encounter at Wowhead News.

Eager adventurers await the opening of Firelands in front of Sulfuron Spire.

Firelands has a very innovative environment and is very different from the Molten Core we are all familiar with.

Beth tilac, the first encounter of Firelands, will probably serve as a gear check for this raid and has some very new mechanics.

After Firelands was closed for testing for the day, we dashed toward Baradin Hold before a server shutdown to dip our feet in the Occu’thar encounter. (You will notice its name is quite similar to Immol’thar in Dire Maul.) Its 54 million HP, which is more than Beth’tilac, can make you buckle in your knees. We still do not know much about how to defeat it, except that it spawns eyes and void zones. Our last attempt had us try the mechanic used against Theralion when dealing with void zones.

Not much is currently known about Occu thar, the new boss within Baradin Hold. However, unlike Argaloth, it is not to be taken lightly with 54 million HP.

It’s definitely a refreshing experience to enter raids blind, not knowing what abilities bosses have. Each attempt is a learning experience, and we definitely were tested in our ability to be aware of the raid environment and learn from previous encounters as well.

Later today, we will go back to the PTR to have a try at Lord Rhyolith. If you would like to have a glance at the encounter, join us on Conquest’s live stream at 6:30 p.m. Eastern (3:30 p.m. Pacific).


PTR 4.2: Utility Changes

The Public Test Realms received an update last night, most of which seem to be pointed toward improving utility. There are 4 items of note for hunters, most of which seem to revolve around our utility, rather than offensive, abilities.

  • The Aggressive pet stance has been removed and replaced with the Assist stance. This stance will cause the player’s pet to attack the player’s target. The pet will not change targets unless the master attacks a new target for a few seconds.

Sometimes it’s fun putting your pet on aggressive in a low-level area and watch it go berserk on mobs. The Assist stance sounds a lot like the Defensive stance. I’m guessing the difference now is that the pet can change targets mid-fight using the new stance, which may still be situational and will take some time to get used to. If done correctly, this may help with target switching in Omnotron Defense System.

  • Multi-shot damage has been reduced. It now deals 120% weapon damage at level 80 or higher, down from 137%.

For those who are keeping track, this means the Multi-Shot change from patch 4.0.6 to 4.2 is increased damage by 218%, as opposed to the 250% given at patch 4.1. I have not noticed the original change to be overpowering, but the developers must think otherwise. I suppose we will have to reassess once again at how many targets will Multi-Shot be economical for Beast Mastery and Marksmanship hunters.

  • Traps now scale with hunter stats such as hit, expertise, spell penetration and attack power as intended.

This change is heaven-sent. Traps have had numerous issues with being resisted. While rare, it made hunters wonder why this was the case if our hit rating and spell penetration were capped. Surprisingly, developers have said time and again that this was a difficult problem to work with because traps are treated as objects rather than proper spells. To have this change roll out this early on the PTR means they must have found a way to work around that obstacle.

  • [Darkmoon Card: Hurricane] damage done when triggered has been increased by 40%, however, it can no longer deal critical strikes and no longer receives any modifiers to its damage from the equipping player.

This is somewhat interesting. When I was still using the trinket, the damage triggered from it would account for approximately 3% of my total damage. However, I wasn’t aware that it was receiving modifiers. I will go on the PTR again to see if this has made the trinket come to par with either Essence of the Cyclone or Fluid Death.


PTR 4.2: Mounts and Pets

Ground mounts just might become more fashionable among hunters in patch 4.2. The reason is because our pets will now remain at our side while mounted. Here’s the latest screenshot from the PTR using [Reins of the Spotted Frostsaber] and Duskstalker.

There are a number of mount/pet combinations that will appeal to hunters. Some combinations even have an appropriate non-combat companion to go along with them, including [Reins of the Golden King] with Sambas for Alliance and [Horn of the Brown Wolf] with Deathmaw and the brown [Worg Carrier] pup for Horde.

Here are a couple more appealing combinations (not necessarily an exhaustive list):

Pets will automatically go into passive stance when the player is mounted, and the pet ability bar will be turn grey. If you fly away on a flying mount, your pet will disappear and will not reappear again when you land until fully dismounted.


Hunter Enchantments with Maelstrom Crystals

With the arrival of patch 4.1, [Maelstrom Crystal]s are now more easily accessible to the common hunter. This, in turn, provides hunters seeking to enter raids with more access to upper-level enchants that previous were reserved for the best endgame raiders. Some of these options will be vastly superior to their predecessors, while others may only be marginally better.

Boots

The best enchantment available for hunter boots is obivously [Major Agility], which provides an additional 35 Agility. However, those interested in more mobility (perhaps for PvP situations), [Assassin's Step] is now available at a more affordable price. It provides 25 Agility and slightly increases movement speed.

Bracer

Hunters who are also leatherworkers benefit from [Draconic Embossment - Agility], which provides a whopping 130 Agility. For the less fortunate, we usually use [Critical Strike] (50 critical strike rating), [Speed] (50 haste rating), or [Precision] (50 hit rating). Maelstrom Crystals give us access to three additional enchantments: [Agility] (50 Agility), [Greater Critical Strike] (65 critical strike rating), and [Greater Speed] (65 haste rating).

Chest

Like our boots, our chest piece usually only has one option for an enchantment: [Mighty Stats] (15 all stats). Maelstrom Crystals give us access to the more rare [Peerless Stats] (20 all stats).

Cloak

While the cloak enchant [Critical Strike] (50 critical strike rating) is the most recent enchantment added in Cataclysm, many hunters opt to use the older [Major Agility] (22 Agility) as it provides a more direct effect to one’s DPS numbers. The new crystals will provide a significant boost to the current enchantment by making available [Greater Critical Strike] (65 critical strike rating).

Gloves

Cataclysm hunters lament at the lack of an Agility enchant for gloves and revert to using the older [Major Agility] (20 Agility). However, we are also presented with strong options for this expansion: [Haste] (50 haste rating) and [Mastery] (50 mastery rating). New epic enchantment materials give us access only to [Greater Mastery] (65 mastery rating) as an upgrade.


Patch 4.1.0: 20 Weeks Post-Cataclysm

Patch 4.1 hits live servers exactly 20 weeks after Cataclysm was released in Europe and North America. Because this patch has been in the Public Test Realms for quite some time now, sometimes even I forget that all of these changes are coming out today.

Overall, very few changes are being made to hunters’ offensive abilities, which gives us an indication that Blizzard probably feels the three talent trees are now pretty well balanced.

  • Multi-Shot damage has been increased by 250%. Although this change, which gives us better area damage capabilities for Marksmanship and Beast Mastery, sounds very aggressive, it actually isn’t. Multi-Shot currently deals 55 percent weapon damage. When increased by 250 percent, Multi-Shot will deal 138 percent weapon damage.
  • Distracting Shot and Multi-Shot are now properly 40-yard range. As I’ve mentioned before, this change closes an era of hunters having a 35-yard maximum range, which means the title of this blog is now obsolete.

Perhaps the biggest changes for hunters this patch comes from changes to the pet system.

  • The Happiness/Pet Loyalty System has been removed. Hunters will no longer have to manage Happiness for their pets, and the previous damage bonus for pets being happy will now be baseline for all tamed pets. Sometimes I wonder why this change was not introduced when Cataclysm was originally released. The happiness and loyalty system is a relic of the original game when pets with low happiness and low loyalty would leave your side. Why did Blizzard wait 20 additional weeks?
  • Tame Beast now tames pets to match the hunter’s level, rather than 3 levels below. I can also confirm through the Public Test Realm that tamed beasts that are below your hunter’s level will match the appropriate level when they are summoned again. I still remember the days after the Grimtotem Spirit Guide was discovered as tameable in Burning Crusade, and many hunters were bringing their level 30 spirit wolves into heroics to level them fast.
  • Summoned pets now start with 100 focus, up from 0. I have not tested this, but this is supposedly a solution to the problem of pets instantly dying if you are dismounted when being chased by a loose mob.

Auto Shot, which has cause a whole slew of problems after it became useable in motion, saw the bulk of bug fixes for hunters.

  • Hunters will no longer automatically acquire a new target if the current target dies in the middle of a cast. Note that this note itself has been fixed since the previous version failed to include the negation “no longer”, which caused a lot of confusion.
  • Aimed Shot and Steady Shot should no longer start casting Auto Shot on a new target when the “Stop Auto Attack” option enabled.
  • Auto Shot now automatically turns off until reactivated once Freezing Trap is cast on an enemy player.
  • Scatter Shot’s disorient effect should no longer sometimes be broken by the hunter’s Auto Shot.

We’ve come a long way since December, but still not everything is perfect. We’ve now taken for granted how to manage focus through rigorous shot rotations. We’ve also learned to bring out the inner collector in us and fill our stables with beasts we’ve come to love. There is, however, one curious item left over from the 4.0.1 patch notes:

  • The Stable will now store 20 pets. If a pet is moved into the Stable, its talents are wiped. As far as I know, the second half of this note was never implemented, which makes for a curious question as to why this is the case and why there has been no mention of it.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that all these changes will have a tremendous impact on how we play the hunter class. Gavendo has surveyed how hunters have changed since beta yet believes that all the original tenets of the class still remains. With time, we will take all these changes for granted, whether for better or for worse.

Have these 20 weeks changed how you approached playing your hunter?


Not a Hunter Trinket

Dear inexperienced hunter,

I understand that you find it difficult to replace trinkets while leveling in Cataclysm. I had the same problem as well when I started the expansion. After all, it’s hard to let go of some of those nice trinkets you got from Icecrown Citadel.

When you started entering Cataclysm dungeons, you may have picked up [Grace of the Herald] from Blackrock Caverns. While it’s a good starter for hunters, don’t think the heroic equivalent is that good. You’ll eventually run into other items such as [Key to the Endless Chamber], [Schnott'z Medallion of Command], and [Blood-Soaked Ale Mug]. None of this, however, is as good as [Tia's Grace]. Even its name sounds deadly!

You’re lucky if you can find [Heart of the Vile] early on, but if you’re not, don’t settle for a cop out like [Left Eye of Rajh]. Using that and [Heart of Solace] will just make you a laughing stock. Do yourself a favor and get [Skardyn's Grace] instead. Now you’re all set and can start doing heroics to get the heroic version of those two trinkets.

Once you start accumulating valor points, do yourself a favor and buy [Fluid Death]. No, you may not have [Unheeded Warning] from the guild bank! If you’re that desperate, stop complaining about cost and spend that time collecting money for [Darkmoon Card: Hurricane]. Don’t even think about wasting commendations on [Unsolvable Riddle]. Your thinking of doing that is a riddle itself. Only once you get [Essence of the Cyclone], will you be all set.

And for the love of Elune, why are you wearing an [Elementium Moebius Band]?


Tanking for the Common Hunter

A talent tree other than Beast Mastery should not be a hindrance to your experiment in pet tanking. There are a number of abilities available to a hunter that make pet tanking viable for all three talent trees. Some may already be obvious; others are not. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a special talent build in order to pet tank.

Scarab beetle, a tenacity petThe first step to pet tanking is choosing a pet. Obviously, you should look for a pet under the tenacity family. If you are a Marksmanship or Survival hunter, you can choose from 9 different pet families. If you are a Beast Mastery hunter, you can choose from an additional 3 exotic pet families. Most hunters will use either a beetle or a turtle for their [Harden Carapace] or [Shell Shield] ability. Both of these have the same effect of 50% damage reduction for 12 seconds, which will prove critical if your pet suddenly falls to low health.

A tanking talent build is important for your pet, which is different from the DPS build for a tenacity pet. You would want to pick up abilities such as Taunt and Thunderstomp for threat. The core talents of your pet’s build, regardless of your own build is as follows:

  • 3/3 Great Stamina
  • 2/2 Natural Armor
  • 2/2 Blood of the Rhino
  • 2/2 Pet Barding
  • 2/2 Guard Dog
  • 2/2 Grace of the Mantis
  • 1/1 Taunt

From here, there are different ways to improve the core talent build, either for improved survivability or for increased threat generation. In order to increase survivability, the addition of these talents will result in the final survivability build:

  • 1/1 Last Stand
  • 2/2 Silverback

On the other hand, the addition of increased damage talents will result in a threat generation build:

  • 1/1 Roar of Sacrifice
  • 2/2 Wild Hunt

Beast Mastery hunters have the benefit of 4 additional talent points, which should be put into:

  • 3/3 Spiked Collar
  • 1/1 Thunderstomp

You will notice the lack of [Thunderstomp] in the build for Marksmanship and Survival hunters means that the talents builds described above are for single-target tanking. I have found that for multi-target tanking, the most effective method is to remove 1 point from either Silverback or Wild Hunt and shift it to Thunderstomp.

You can now improve pet tanking through self enhancements. Because the common hunter will always be in a raiding, questing, or PvP build, we will need a method that does not involve resetting your talent build or using different enchants. The best way to do this is through glyphing. The two best glyphs for pet tanking are [Glyph of Misdirection], which will allow you to use chain Misdirection, and [Glyph of Mending], which increases your healing. If stamina becomes a critical bonus, don’t hesitate to use [Flask of Steelskin].

When glyphed, chain [Misdirection] becomes possible and is an important skill to learn that can be made simple through the use of a macro. The key to a chain Misdirection, however, is to save your abilities with highest damage for after Misdirection is cast. This includes abilities such as Aimed Shot and Explosive Shot. You also want to open your shots with the ability that yields the largest damage.

#showtooltip Misdirection
/cast [target=pet,exists,nodead] Misdirection

Finally, positioning is always important. Make pet commands such as Stay, Attack, and Move as easy as possible to use, whether it be through keybinds or another method. With this, you can go ahead and have fun, whether it be tanking Problim during your Tol Barad dailies or to save that heroic group from wiping when the tank goes down.

Show me some pictures! →


Fire, Iron, and the Red Shirt

Dwarven Gryphon Rider

Posting on a weekend is something I usually never do. Posting about lore is also something I usually never do. Today, however, is not a usual day.

Dwarven lore is, in my opinion, the most interesting component of the story of Warcraft. Last night’s release of the short story “Fire and Iron” by Matt Burns reinforced my view. This was the story I had most looked forward to out of all the faction leader short stories, and it didn’t disappoint me. If you have not read it yet and would not like to be spoiled, I’d recommend you not read further.

Spoilers don’t concern me.→


Enumerating Hunter Auras

When Cataclysm streamlined the hunter talent trees, the signature talent of each tree was reintroduced as a passive raid buff. Beast Mastery hunters sport the very appealing Ferocious Inspiration, which actually has not changed much since Burning Crusade. Trueshot Aura, the signature aura of Marksmanship hunters, has actually been around just as long but has gone a number of transformative changes over time. Meanwhile, Hunting Party is the newest of the three buffs, having replaced the older Survival aura Expose Weakness.

Let’s take a closer look at all three and their history. We’ll also do a numerical comparison to see which aura has the biggest effect on a hunter’s damage.

Ferocious Inspiration

The Beast Mastery aura is perhaps the easiest to understand of the three buffs provided by hunters. Ferocious Inspiration provides an overall 3 percent increase in raid damage. It is perhaps the aura that can be most easily observed. For example, if there are two damage reports from the same encounter, one with the buff and the other without, the report including Ferocious Inspiration will see 3 percent increased damage by the entire raid.

One reason this aura is so appealing is because it affects melee and ranged damage dealers, as well as casters. It even extends to pets. Its limitless potential made it the best hunter buff in Burning Crusade, on top of an already strong Beast Mastery tree. This is also probably the reason the aura has not really changed in function since then.

Trueshot Aura

Trueshot Aura, which has been a previous subject of my research, was a complicated talent prior to Cataclysm. It went through an identity crisis when hunters began abandoning its use in Burning Crusade because it provided a flat attack power bonus. This meant that high-end hunters did not receive a scaling bonus whether they were raiding Karazhan or Sunwell Plateau. Moreover, it only affected one party, as opposed to the entire raid, so Marksmanship hunters were always grouped with physical damage dealers. When it was redesigned in Wrath of the Lich King to provide a 10 percent attack power bonus to the entire raid, it became a very powerful talent, regardless of the fact that it only affected physical damage dealers.

Because hunters continue to receive weapon and armor upgrades at level cap, their agility (and thus, attack power) continues to increase. Suddenly, the bonus provided by Trueshot Aura continues to increase as upgrades are obtained. It is also interesting to note that Trueshot Aura is one talent tier lower than the other hunter aura talents. This means you can obtain it at level 39, a full 10 levels earlier than the others.

Hunting Party

As the newest aura on the block, Hunting Party increases melee and ranged attack speed by 10 percent. This aura replaces Survival’s signature Expose Weakness talent that was the subject of much debate throughout Burning Crusade and Wrath. For example, take a trip down memory lane and read Mirshalak’s comparison of Trueshot Aura and Expose Weakness at the advent of 3.0.

But even with the change, Hunting Party possibly remains as the most complex aura for a hunter because haste mechanics is still difficult to calculate and translate to DPS. Even after reading Frostheim’s thoughts on haste design, you could still not understand how haste works. Perhaps it will be another topic for future research.

Numerical Comparison

The primary objective of this study is to understand the extent of each aura’s affect on a hunter’s overall damage, which could give an indication of how to pick the best buff and talent tree scenario for raid encounters. Our study began with importing my current gear and weapon setup into Zeherah’s Hunter DPS Analyzer. To avoid too many sample variations, we used the three talent trees recommended by Frostheim, the standard rotation already used by Zeherah’s analyzer, and a cat as the default pet.

The results are tabulated below. Italicized values are the DPS output for the hunter with his or her own aura that is included in the tree of choice. The other values in each column indicate the change in DPS as each of the two other auras (or both auras) is added to the default aura.

Ferocious Inspiration Trueshot Aura Hunting Party Cumulative
Beast Mastery 16,315.72 17,597.96 (+7.9%) 17,282.98 (+5.9%) 18,640.16 (+14.2%)
Marksmanship 16,856.83 (+3.0%) 16,365.85 17,325.27 (+5.9%) 17,845.03 (+9.0%)
Survival 16,598.39 (+3.0%) 17,359.02 (+7.7%) 16,114.95 17,879.79 (+11.0%)

First of all, this data is concrete proof that, in a perfect environment with 100 percent damage uptime by the hunter and pet, Beast Mastery is the middle ground of the three talent trees in terms of damage output when each tree is tested individually. This is reflected in the current 4.0.6 data from SimulationCraft. However, things take a turn when only hunter buffs are in effect.

We can derive from this data an equivalent comparison of the three aura buffs. Once again, it is obvious the Ferocious Inspiration provides a 3 percent damage increase. This data, however, converts Trueshot Aura’s 10 percent attack power buff into a 7.7–7.9 percent damage increase. Hunting Party’s buff is converted to a 5.9 percent damage increase. The resulting DPS from a cumulative of the three buffs is simple mathematics. Because Trueshot Aura and Hunting Party buffs have more multiplicative power, Beast Mastery benefits the most when all three buffs are stacked. Conversely, Marksmanship benefits the least from the small multiplicative value of Ferocious Inspiration and Hunting Party combined.

Implications

This data has a scaling implication. Remember that as we gain upgrades at level cap, agility continues to increase as our primary statistic. As a result, attack power continues to increase. Regardless of how much our attack power increases, however, Ferocious Inspiration continues to provide additional 3 percent damage. This is a linear increase, compared to Trueshot Aura’s exponential increase. With better upgrades, it is likely that the additional 10 percent attack power will provide greater incremental DPS increases, increasing Trueshot Aura’s multiplicative power.

You will see the shift in damage ranking in raid groups with many hunters, such as the case in my weekly classic raids. Suddenly, Beast Mastery hunters start to rise to the top of the charts. In groups with multiple hunters, the issue of synergy will then appear, such as optimizing and maximizing buffs with different pets, etc. That is, however, a topic for another day.


Breaking the Heroic Ceiling

Despite the seemingly lack of hunters (and hunter bloggers), the hunterdom environment is actually quite the opposite from what I have observed. In my realm of Eredar, there is an abundance of hunters walking about Stormwind.  As I pass by the streets of the Dwarven District, I see numerous pets out and hunters in their level 85 gear. You could say that being a hunter has never been more attractive with the slate of new abilities and pets made available.

Why then is it so hard to break the heroic ceiling and enter raids? On Eredar, there are a few guilds who are searching for good hunters to fill their core raid spots. Does this indicate a lack of hunters? No, it indicates a lack of raiding hunters.

Yesterday, a guildmate mentioned that raiding content in Cataclysm lacks hierarchy, which I found true after some consideration. Compare the three raid instances available now to the first tier raiding content in the previous three installations of the game. Molten Core, Karazhan, and Naxxramas were all massive instances with a dozen or so bosses. Now we have instances with two, four, and six bosses. Did you notice that the total number of encounters is still a dozen?

One would think that spreading out raids like this will allow more players to break the heroic ceiling because shorter instances seem less daunting. However, it appears this might be the contrary. Previously, players are required to go through the predefined progression set by Blizzard in raiding instances. There was a linearity in raiding. Currently, players can explore different raid encounters and achieve “progression” without having to enter the same instance over and over again. This is the irony of Cataclysm, the expansion that many have complained as being too linear.

Having reached the heroic ceiling, players find themselves unable to determine which path is the best to enter the raiding scene. After having put through a series of linear zones, they are thrown into the chaotic world of raiding where three instances mean four initial encounters to learn at the same time: Magmaw and Omnotron in Blackwing Descent, Halfus in the Bastion of Twilight, and the Conclave of the Winds. The task seems daunting, and even heroic gear does not seem sufficient to meet this challenge.

The key to break the ceiling, then, is focus. Make a decision in which instance you will make your initial progression in raiding. While linearity in questing is something new we have learned to dislike, linearity and hierarchy in raiding is something we are familiar with. By focusing on your personal progression, you will soon enter the “club” of players with item level 350 and above.

Remember that it is more important to be a competent player in a raid than to be a player who can pull big damage but disregards instructions. Strengthen your raid competency and you will soon find yourself in the raiding scene with raid leaders who are more than willing to explain the encounters to you.


Writing the Hunter

Hunter blogging is a difficult thing to do. It also used to be the best thing to do.

One can almost immediately identify a hunter blog by its name, especially since many hunter blogs use the name of a talent or skill. But consider this: how many hunter blogs are currently using a name whose meaning has been lost over the years because of changes to the game? There are probably more than you realize.

Take, for example, the great BigRedKitty. It is obvious that BRK writes from a Beast Mastery hunter’s perspective. However, take it to the next level. Why a kitty specifically? Back then, pet DPS was not normalized through the different pet talent categories. If you were raiding, you would bring a cat (or a raptor, I believe) because they performed better on the charts. Even today, it’s still a pet family most, if not all, hunters keep with them. Times have changed, and cats now have normalized damage with all ferocity pets, and Beast Mastery has lost the glory it had in Burning Crusade.

Wrath of the Lich King was a glorious time for tenacity pets, and that was how Big Red Rhino began. Rhinos, which are only found in Northrend, identifies the blog as having been started in the previous expansion. Of course, rhinos being tenacity pets indicate that the blog is about pet tanking. The level of difficulty of Cataclysm‘s dungeons has forced hunters to shy away from challenging themselves and pet tanking. But be honest, how many of you really want to try and pet tank Argaloth?

How many of you remember that Piercing Shots originally gave an armor reduction debuff and was crucial for raid bosses? Or that Mend Pet could be buffed with actual healing (aka Spirit) gear? Do you remember the much desired Stabilized Eternium Scope? Did you know Target Dummies were not always in the game, are properly called Training Dummies, and are not the same as the Engineering-crafted item?

When I looked at the Patch 4.1 PTR notes a few weeks ago, this item stood out for me:

Distracting Shot and Multi-Shot are now properly 40-yard range.

This change has made the name 35 Yards Out obsolete because I began writing from a time when hunters had a maximum range of 35 yards unless talent points were spent on the removed talent Hawk Eye. Does that change the meaning and direction of this blog? Certainly not, but because blog names are somewhat static, something is lost through the changes.

With Mend Pet’s Brajana, Less QQ, More PewPew‘s Drotara, and Aspect of the Hare‘s Pike leaving the hunter blogging scene, the field has suddenly felt very sparse. The soul of hunter blogging that was so vibrant during late Burning Crusade and early Wrath is no longer there. Today, hunter bloggers are expected to provide some “insight” into becoming a numerically better hunter.

Please, make hunter blogging and playing a hunter look fun again.

I’d like to take this time to raise a final toast to Larísa, whom I tremendously respect and have known since she switched from blogging in Swedish to English. May we all bring the spirit of The Pink Pigtail Inn into our own journeys in Azeroth.


Studying Sockets

When armor and weapons with gem sockets were first introduced in Burning Crusade, they were an entirely new concept. For the first time, players could customize the statistical priorities of their character. Customization eventually gave rise to what we know today as theorycrafting, a study of how to best optimize the numbers that form your character’s statistics. This was further enhanced through the introduction of reforging in Cataclysm.

Gem Variety

Today, we look at some of the basic things to look for when socketing your armor with gems. There are seven types of gems in the game, six of which represent each portion of a color wheel. The final gem is called a meta gem and can only be activated if certain colored gems are already socketed in your gear. For hunters, here are the gems that are of interest (but not necessarily optimal) for hunters:

Although there are six gem colors, there are only three socket colors: red, blue, and yellow. The three secondary colors (which are combinations of the primary three) can be socketed in either of its primary color sockets. For example, a green gem can be placed in either a blue or yellow socket.

As mentioned above, there are also meta gems that can be activated if you have certain colored gems socketed in your gear. Meta gems of interest for hunters are:

Meta gems are currently only used on endgame helm armor only. There is also a final type called the prismatic socket/gem, which means that it can be matched with any color that is available except for meta.

Optimizing and Maximizing Sockets

Each piece of armor or weapon with sockets have a certain socket bonus, a certain statistical value that will be added to your gear for having the correct color gem in the socket. For most people, the obvious choice would be to gem for the socket bonus. They would choose the color appropriate gem and balance the statistics on their character. However, this method of optimizing your sockets (by obtaining the socket bonus) doesn’t necessarily maximize their usage. A hunter’s gemming priority for calls for maximum Agility, our primary statistic.

Windhome Helm

In some cases, the optimum is better than the maximum, such as the [Windhome Helm], which has a meta socket and a yellow socket. One should not use the maximum agility gem in this case because of the socket bonus. Using the agility meta gem and a red gem will give you 94 agility from gemming alone. However, if an orange gem were used, the agility bonus from gemming increases to 104. Clearly, achieving the socket bonus is very important.

Lightning-Charged Legguards

However, there are times when going for the maximum is better than achieving the optimum. When you look at the socket bonus of [Lightning-Charged Legguards], 20 additional agility is very appealing. Unfortunately, it uses two yellow sockets. If one were to use two orange gems, the total agility gained from gemming is only 60. Compare this to using two red gems, which provides a total of 80 additional agility. Achieving a socket bonus is not important in this case.

Tunic of Failed Experiments

There are also rare cases when the optimum case is also the maximum. This is true for [Voltage Source Chestguard] and [Tunic of Failed Experiments], both of which have a red and a blue socket. When using a red and a purple gem, the total agility gained from achieving the socket bonus is equivalent to using two red gems and not achieving the bonus. The upside to using the blue socket goes back to the idea of customization. By playing around with reforging and gems, you can find a hit rating that is the closest to the cap value of 961. If you are already at cap, you can use a different purple gem that provides a stamina bonus instead.

A Note on Theorycrafting

Although customization allows the hunter to freely socketed gems, most of the gems listed above will never be used by hunters because they do not provide the greatest boost in DPS. Current gemming preference indicates that crit gems are more attractive than haste gems, which in turn are more attractive than mastery gems. As such, the orange agility/crit gem is often seen on hunters.

However, one could also say that hunters are often expected to be updated on their theorycrafting, thus everyone is merely following everyone else and not actually analyzing what gems are better suited for them.


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