Trueshot Aura, the Impact of Scaling, and Other Research
As you recall, Trueshot Aura is now a scaling buff that increases based on your personal attack power. This change, along with the raid wide application, has made the talent comparable to Ferocious Inspiration and Expose Weakness. Thank you to all who answered my call for attack power data. You will find my overview of Trueshot Aura below, along with an additional note on other research about the 3.0.8 Steady Shot nerf and the selection of Arcane Shot vs. Aimed Shot for rotation weaving.
Dilemma of the Old Trueshot Aura
When Trueshot Aura was introduced as a 31-point talent in pre-expansion World of Warcraft, the idea was quite appealing: a generic attack power buff to party members. However, as time passed and Burning Crusade was released, the talent slowly became obsolete compared to an increasingly complex combat rating system.
Aspect of the Hawk was trainable at level 10, and a new rank every ten levels beginning level 18 (except at level 60). A new rank of Trueshot Aura was trainable every ten levels beginning level 40. In the beginning, the attack power bonus gap between Aspect of the Hawk and Trueshot Aura seemed almost unchanged between 20 and 15. However, at level 70, the gap between Aspect of the Hawk (Rank 8) and Trueshot Aura (Rank 4) grew to 30 attack power. If this trend were to hold, I estimate Aspect of the Dragonhawk (Rank 2) and a hypothetical Trueshot Aura (Rank 5) would have a gap of 50 attack power.
But that was not the problem with the old Trueshot Aura. It was trainable every ten levels providing an increase in 25 attack power for each rank. If the old system were maintained, a hypothetical Trueshot Aura (Rank 5) would provide a 150-attack-power bonus at level 80. But Aspect of the Dragonhawk (Rank 2) provides a bonus of 300 attack power. Based on my previous paragraph, the hypothetical new level of Trueshot Aura provides 250 attack power. So which one should Trueshot Aura (Rank 5) provide? Additional 150 or 250 attack power?
Calculations indicate that Blizzard chose one of the two routes we hypothesized. However, this choice was further improved upon through the new scaling mechanic.
Designing the New Trueshot Aura
Scaling Trueshot Aura has always been a strong proposal on how to overhaul the old system. Blizzard finally implemented this mechanic in patch 3.0.2 to prepare for the release of Wrath of the Lich King. All ranged and melee attack power are increased by 10% while affected by this aura.
Under this new mechanic, Blizzard changed the definition of Trueshot Aura itself. Instead of providing raw attack power, the aura will provide most of the buff value from the character’s own attack power. If one defines “buff” as additional stats outside those provided by gear and character statistics, Trueshot Aura actually provides less buff value because it only provides a 10% attack power bonus to Aspect of the (Dragon)Hawk.
With this new mechanic, Trueshot Aura draws its strength from the character’s own statistics. The consequence of this is that attack power becomes a more important statistic than before. The greater your unbuffed attack power, the greater your buff will be. During Burning Crusade, one of never-ending topics discussed was the selection between attack power and agility enchants for Marksmanship hunters. If Marksmanship hunters were to enchant all his or her gear with attack power bonuses in Wrath of the Lich King, the bonus provided by Trueshot Aura will be much greater than if agility enchants were chosen.
This chart demonstrates that at level 80, the lowest unbuffed ranged attack power values indicated the raw Trueshot Aura bonus (defined as Trueshot Aura RAP minus unbuffed RAP minus 300 RAP, the static Dragonhawk bonus) is on the order of 250 attack power, which validates one of our initial hypotheses. We were correct to assume the “gap trend” and estimated a 250 attack power difference between Aspect of the Dragonhawk and the new Trueshot Aura.
However, the chart also demonstrates the importance that was placed on attack power. At 2700 attack power unbuffed, Trueshot Aura’s scaling mechanic has erased that gap with Aspect of the Dragonhawk. The highest data point collected demonstrates that Trueshot Aura bonus exceeds Dragonhawk by 31%. Given that only tier 7 armor has been released, we estimate that tier 8 armor will see this number rise to near 50%.
Based on these findings, we make the following conclusions:
- The design of the new Trueshot Aura matches trends in attack power growth throughout leveling and thus does not unbalance the hunter class prior to the level cap. Its advancement, however, is the ability for the aura to overtake Aspect of the Dragonhawk in raw bonus, making is far more important in upper level raiding.
- We speculate that attack power will be preferred over agility in gemming and enchants for Marksmanship hunters to a certain extent. The contribution of agility to critical strike chance must also be kept in mind should this trend be observed in the future. A balance must be struck when attack power is given priority to prevent the loss of critical strikes.
- [Glyph of Trueshot Aura] was not implemented as an increased bonus to attack power because such a buff would drastically overpower the ability for Marksmanship hunters. Given the current growth rate of attack power, such a glyph would unbalance the tree.
These findings also remind us that every time Aspect of the Dragonhawk is turned off, 330 or more attack power will be lost due to the 10% bonus instead of the standard 300 under the effects of Trueshot Aura. Essentially, the penalty for Marksmanship hunters for switching into other Aspects will be greater.
How long will it take before the 10% attack power bonus becomes “too large” (e.g. 500 bonus at 5000)? Should a diminishing effect be implemented to prevent claims that the ability is overpowered? How does Trueshot Aura scaling affect pets? Would a static Trueshot Aura be more beneficial or less beneficial for pets? Does Trueshot Aura scaling make one level 80 pet preferable over another?
Speaking about research, I’m sure you’re interested in finding out how Steady Shot will change in patch 3.0.8. It should be noted that 71% of the people who submitted their votes to my poll last week indicated they will not change their talent builds. To be honest, I was both surprised and not surprised at the same time at the results. But here are some actual numerical calculations, one from our good friend Amava and one from the ever-resourceful Brigwyn. It appears that Brigwyn’s findings are more pessimistic than Amava’s, but both did show significant drops in damage.
Another ongoing topic of discussion is the selection between Arcane Shot and Aimed Shot to weave into a Steady Shot rotation for Marksmanship hunters. In case you have not heard the news made aware to us by new blogger Klinderas, Arcane Shot mana cost is being reduced to that equivalent of Steady Shot’s in 3.0.8. This essentially closed the discussion between fellow Marksmanship hunters Nassira and Rilgon on whether using Arcane or Aimed (or both) is more useful.