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General

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.


World of Warcraft by the Numbers

Good morning. It’s been a while since my last post because I had a week-long trip out of town. Before we get back into the swing of huntery things, I want to present you this graphic that has been making its way around the community. Marvel at Blizzard’s flagship property:

In case you cannot see the graphic, here are the basic information:

  • World of Warcraft is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe.
  • World of Warcraft was almost universally praised by critics upon release.
  • In April 2008, World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62% of the MMORPG subscription market.
  • In October 2010, lead producer J. Allen Brack announced a fourth expansion set.
  • In the Cataclysm expansion, European guilds claimed all world first normal kills and a majority of heroic kills. In Wrath of the Lich King, North American guilds claimed a majority of world first normal kills and just over half of heroic kills. In Burning Crusade, European guilds claimed two-thirds of the world first kills. In the original game, North American guilds claimed nearly all world first kills.
  • The amount of the highest noted World of Warcraft account trade is US$9,900.
  • NetEase, who is the current operator of World of Warcraft in China, reached 1.1 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion) in online game revenues.
  • In the Cataclysm expansion, guilds claiming world first kills (normal and heroic) include Paragon, Premonition, Method, Adept, and For the Horde. In Wrath of the Lich King, guilds claiming world first kills include Paragon, Premonition, Ensidia, Vodka, and Second String. In Burning Crusade, guilds claiming world first kills include Death and Taxes, SK Gaming, Death Wish, Forte, and Curse. In the original game, guilds claiming world first kills include Vodka, Ascent, Fury, Death and Taxes, and Conquest.
  • 6 of the legendary items were first obtained in North America, and 2 were obtained in Europe.
  • The total number of World of Warcraft players around the world is more than 11.5 million, with nearly 50% of players in Asia.
  • The total value of the subscription fees of players in North America and Europe is US$800 million.
  • 1 in every 5 players is female.
  • Americans dedicate an average of 22.7 hours per week for World of Warcraft, 35 hours for work, and 39.25 hours for television.
  • The World of Warcraft server utilizes 20,000 computers, which amount to 1.3 petabytes of storage, 75,000 CPU cores, and 5.5 million lines of code, which results in US$136,986 in upkeep costs per day.
  • It took 150 developers roughly 4 to 5 years to create World of Warcraft, which includes 30,000 items, 7,600 quests, 5,300 non-player characters, and 1,400 locations.

Compiled by: Video Game Design Colleges


Early Damage Trends in 4.0.6

A new week brings a new set of information and findings for all hunters. Last night, we discovered RaidBots, a versatile alternative to State of DPS in analyzing parses from the World of Logs. What’s the difference between the two?

State of DPS has the unique ability to search for individual players who are within the top 200 parse samples being collected. RaidBots, on the other hand, has a very useful tool that allows you to compare the performance of two different individuals in a boss fight, called Compare Bot. They have different methods of collecting the sample data, but both have ability to select data from different raiding formats: 10-man vs. 25 man, and normal vs. heroic.

Keep in mind that these samples represent the top 200 of each class/talent combination out of 12 million players of the game, so don’t immediately compare your own observations to this data unless you are in one of the top 1% of guilds in the world.

With patch 4.0.6 in full swing for almost a week, let’s take a look at how hunters have performed, courtesy of RaidBots. I specifically chose data from 10-man normal raid environments, which covers the past 14 days up to Sunday, February 13. Here are the results:

As a general rule, DPS will usually trend upward because people get better gear every day. Even taking that into account, you can see Survival hunters are still performing at the top, though their superiority has not improved or worsened. Marksmanship hunters, on the other hand, have seen a dramatic improvement in the raiding scene. Beast Mastery, while seeing modest gains, remains the lowest performer among the three.

We can speculate on these observations:

  • While Survival hunters did see a reduction in the damage output of many of their abilities, their shot rotation has very little ramp-up time, an advantage in fights with target switching. Most Survival shots are damage-over-time effects, which are easier to sustain even if you miss a few. With the fix in Serpent Spread‘s Serpent Sting, Survival AoE attacks remain strong.
  • Despite dramatic improvements in Marksmanship performance, they are likely to perform mediocre in fights which require switching targets. Currently, the use of heavy duty abilities such as Aimed Shot and Chimera Shot means that Marksmanship spends most of its time casting shots and waiting on cooldowns. In between these bursts of damage, we only have Serpent Sting.
  • With Beast Mastery, target switching may also be detrimental to DPS because pets, which contribute a significant percentage of Beast Mastery damage, need travel time. Unlike Marksmanship, Beast Mastery cannot fully maximize output until the pet has reached its appropriate target. These conditions, in addition to the lack of more burst damage, is likely to put Beast Mastery lower than the other two.

As a final note, anticipate future changes, especially with this note from the developers:

  • We are also looking at nerfing Aimed Shot, but compensating hunters through Aspect of the Hawk. (source)

It was expected, especially if I can one-shot level 81 Twilight Dragonkin in Mount Hyjal with my Aimed Shot critical hits.


Threat is Serious Business

Last week, Ghostcrawler wrote a column on threat management, a heavily discussed topic that has resurfaced in Cataclysm and was previously been more of a concern in Burning Crusade than in Wrath. If you regularly follow other bloggers, you will notice the resurfacing of comments regarding how the heroic dungeons of Cataclysm are returning to the style of Burning Crusade with a need for crowd control and threat management.

Tanks and healers are looking to get back into the swing and picking up where they left off 2 years ago, but this can’t happen without help from DPS classes, including hunters. The random dungeon system has transformed instance grouping to a weeding out process where if one member of the party does not perform well with others, they are simply removed or leave with frustration. It has become easier to replace someone, but at what cost? By nature, DPS classes number more than tanks and healers, but that doesn’t make you disposable.

Dungeons are no longer easy ways to gain gear and rewards. Don’t make your experience in one less rewarding than the time it takes to wait in queue. Learn what you should be doing and return to the glory days of when DPS can shine in both damage and crowd control. If you have forgotten how to do that, there are those who are willing to help.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, as Ghostcrawler says:

Now, there are things we don’t like about threat as a mechanic. It’s fairly gamey as game mechanics go and we think there are probably better ways to communicate it to players. There are some mods that do a very credible job given the limited information we provide, but overall we’d like to present threat better since we’re asking you to take it seriously in the PvE game.

Now, there are things we don’t like about threat as a mechanic. It’s fairly gamey as game mechanics go and we think there are probably better ways to communicate it to players. There are some mods that do a very credible job given the limited information we provide, but overall we’d like to present threat better since we’re asking you to take it seriously in the PvE game.

Deathwing shattered this blog

Actually, not really.

But we did redesign the website, complete with a very cute RSS icon (that matches Aspect of the Fox). The information page has been updated to reflect our latest progress in the game, though other pages still need some revamping. Just like every year, there is a snowfall effect in place, which is appropriate because Winter’s Veil started yesterday.

If you’ve only been reading from your feed reader and haven’t checked out the website lately, come on over!


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