Survival Tactics, Spell Penetration & Trap Resists

I noticed a lot of back and forth going on in the comments following Garxz’s interview the other week, concerning the value of 2/2 Survival Tactics in a Hunter PvP build. I was in fact curious myself, considering I felt the talent had become less of a value after 4.2. Given that Garxz is a god in arena, I figured he must know something we don’t.

I used to spec the talent for both the reduced trap resists, as well as the shorter cooldown for Disengage, but when Blizz finally made it so that Spell Penetration started affecting our traps in 4.2, I figured the talent wasn’t really worth it as long as you were itemizing for Spell Penetration. I was of the belief that if you negated the enemy’s resists with your level of Spell Pen, then your traps would never be resisted…I was wrong on this, but why..?

I’ll explain in a minute.

So… as is the case with any hunter question that should arise, which I cannot confidently and readily provide an answer for… I then embark on a quest for enlightenment. I either test things out in-game or I chomp down on Google’s throat with the tenacity of a bulldog — only backing off when I feel satisfied with an answer. So after much research, here’s the explanation…

A quick overview of what Spell Penetration does…

First off, Spell Penetration is a stat that we hunters need only for PvP. The reason we want Spell Pen for PvP is so that we can mitigate enemy resists, e.g., Mark of the Wild, Blessing of Kings, Mage Armor, racial resists, etc… enabling us to get more of our spell damage through via our shots that cause spell damage, i.e, Arcane Shot, Chimera Shot, Explosive Shot, Cobra Shot, Black Arrow and Serpent Sting. We also need Spell Penetration to reduce the percentage an enemy has to resist our traps and trap damage. It used to be that Spell Pen did not affect our traps at all, but Patch 4.2 changed all that.

If you want a more thorough explanation of the mechanics of Spell Penetration and how much you need, then refer to my Hunter PvP Spell Pen Guide here.

For the sake of keeping things concise and to the point (which I have a hard enough time doing as it is…), I’ll just use an example here and move along:

If you have 200 Spell Penetration and you’re blasting away at a Mage with MotW and Mage Armor up (141 combined resists), your spell pen will overcome their resists – allowing all of your delicious spell damage shots to wreck their face.

However… that doesn’t mean that they can’t run right over one of your traps – resisting it completely. WTF..?!

The reason for this is because traps use their own type of Spell Hit rating, which is unaffected by our hit rating or spell hit. So, even if you’ve got Spell Pen stacked to the gills and are fully hit capped, enemy players will still have a 4% chance to resist your traps — or in other words, your trap will ‘miss’. The only way to make up for this additional 4% hit chance is by talenting 2/2 Survival Tactics.

I am soft hit capped at 5% in my PvP ‘work clothes’. The Spell Hit that I inherit from my hit rating is 5.86%, which exceeds the 4% needed, but the game does not apply this hit rating to our traps. Personally, I consider this just another thing among the list of ‘broken’ hunter mechanics. But, considering I have no idea how much work it would take to try and fix it, I’m not going to complain much. Plus, it’s fairy trivial in the grand scheme of things.

So it comes down to this… If you want to be sure that all of your spell damage shots are going to hit with full force -and- you want to prevent most traps from being resisted, then get Spell Pen capped. Info on how much you need is here.

If you want to make sure that none of your traps get resisted… ever, then add 2/2 Survival Tactics into the mix so that you can obtain that additional 4%… Trap Hit..?

2/2 Survival Tactics raises your trap hit from 96% to 100%, then provided you have enough Spell Pen to cancel out an enemy’s resists buffs – they should not resist any traps – unless they have a talent or ability that reduces their chance to be hit by spells.

At any rate… this is how I best understand why 2/2 Survival Tactics is still valuable.

In closing… if you want to rule the arena, then 2/2 Survival Tactics is definitely a good idea. This way you’ll never miss a Freezing Trap, not to mention the shorter Disengage cooldown is always nice.

If you’re a casual PvP’er who maybe wants to rock some Spell Pen, but doesn’t necessarily mind having a trap resisted once in awhile, then you need not bother with Survival Tactics if you would rather talent something else.

That’s all for now… hopefully this article clarified a few things for some of you. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Survival Tactics, Spell Penetration & Trap Resists”

  1. Fascinating. Thanks for looking into this.

    Just curious, but how exactly did you calculate that we have a base 1% trap hit, and that 5% trap hit is needed?

    As for not complaining because this isn’t a big deal… It actually is. It means that EVERY PVP HUNTER must spec into the second tier of SV just to have reliable CC, a basic requirement for Arena. No other class has to do anything of the sort.

    • Don’t confuse ‘reliable’ with ‘foolproof’. Traps that work 96% of the time are reliable in the overall scheme of things, which is why some people might not complain.

      • Well, no other class has CC that works only 96% of the time, to the best of my knowledge, nor do they have to go 2 Tiers deep in a talent tree just to get truly reliable CC.

        That 4% miss, in high rated Arena, is an almost guaranteed 4% loss due simply to a bad mechanic in hunter CC. Possibly more, if your fight lasts more than 30 seconds. 4% failure rate in a 30 second fight, 8% failure rate in a 60 second fight, 12% failure rate in 90 second fight, etc. It starts to add up, and that IS a big deal.

        Fixing that supposedly minor detail might make a pretty significant difference for the viability of hunters, and would free us up to not have to go 2 Tiers deep in SV to be competitive.

        This also frustrates me personally, of course. I HAVE noticed a lot of trap failures in Arena, but since I thought Blizz had fixed traps so that Spell Pen would make them not miss, I couldn’t figure out why. I assumed some strange bug, or a trinket, or a DOT I hadn’t noticed, or something. Those trap failures have cost me a quite a few matches…

    • Casters have a 4% base chance for spells to miss a target of the same level, where as melee has a 5% miss chance. This 4% miss chance applies to our traps, but it is not affected by spell hit.

      Spells have a 96% chance to hit an even level target as do our traps, but the only way to make up the difference is by way of Survival Tactics.

      From WoWPedia:

      • Good explanation, thanks.

        However, casters fix the problem by getting 4% hit as part of their normal gearing, right?

        So hunters are the only ones to need talents for our CC to not miss, correct?

        • Yes, that is correct. The trap hit bears some similarities to spell hit, but is a mechanic unto itself.

          Blizz could change it so that our hit, or even spell hit, applied to our traps – then we could do away with the Survival Tactics talent altogether. My guess is that change would require more work on the game code than we realize, hence they just leave it as is, give us the talent, and tend to other more important game issues.

          I’m willing to bet it’ll be something they fix around the time of the next expansion.

          • Perhaps they’ll fix it for next expansion…

            Then again, they said they’d fix PVP hunters and traps for Cataclsym…

            In fact, they said they’d fix PVP hunters and traps for WotLK too…

            Sometimes I want to find out who the lead hunter developer is, and… I’d better not say.

          • Thanks Gar for your research, was interesting.
            What I think is, that blizz once again screwed it up 🙂 in the blue post, they mentioned that traps will scale with ALL of our stats (AP, spell pen, expertise, HIT), so maybe they just forgot to add SPELL HIT, I can imagine that:)
            anyway… thanks and keep up the good work;)


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