Alright, so with all of this new gear that has been introduced in 3.2, this past week I have been taking a hard look at haste and its value as a Hunter stat. After sitting out 3.2 for almost two weeks, I finally got back in the game and have amassed a few upgrades either via badges or instance drops. While staring at the Emblem of Conquest Quartermaster’s item screen in Dalaran, one stat has had me particularly curious as far as how to weigh it. This is of course, haste.
Since a lot of the gear that I’m either replacing or obtaining involves a large amount of haste, I decided to investigate this so called “Hunter Haste Soft Cap” and find out how much of this stat is necessary. For those of you privy to this information, you may want to skim through for a refresher, read it and check for accuracy, or perhaps just move along and wait for tomorrow’s topic. For you other Hunters out there such as myself, who are viewing haste as that gray area in your item tooltip, read on…
Haste and the Hunter
We know that haste shortens the duration of casting speed, which is good of course. A quicker casting speed means more attacks going off in a shorter amount of time. However, Hunters only have two damaging attacks that utilize a cast timer. Those are: Steady Shot and Volley.
Volley benefits from haste in that it causes the spell to provide the same amount of damage in a shorter period of time, due to the hasted casting speed and more frequent damage ticks. Yet, Steady Shot is really the only spell we’re concerned with as far as haste stacking is concerned. Volley is primarily used to AoE down trash, and DPS isn’t quite as important in those situations. How fast we can get the boss down is what’s important, thus the emphasis on Steady Shot.
Why do Hunters need haste?
Steady Shot has a base casting speed of 2.0 seconds. Our goal is to get that casting speed down to 1.5 seconds. The reason for this is that we want Steady Shot to match the value of our global cooldown, which happens to also be 1.5 seconds. The reason this is so important is because it creates a smoother shot rotation, which in turn allows for a higher damage output overall. The tighter you can weave your shots, the more damage you will do. It all boils down to simple mathematicals. 😉
By paring down the cast time on Steady Shot, you are ensuring that you will have at least one shot available every single time your GCD is up.
How much haste does a Hunter need?
Beast Mastery Hunters specced 5/5 into Serpent’s Swiftness are already haste capped. No additional haste is needed for BM Hunters in order to get down to the magical 1.5 second casting speed for Steady Shot. Since Steady Shot is such an important part of the Beast Master’s arsenal, it stands to reason that this mechanic exists for the Beast Mastery tree.
Marksmanship and Survival Hunters need 523 haste rating to reach the desired haste soft cap. “Haste soft cap”..? What is that..? I’ll get to that next.
The Hunter Haste Soft Cap
Since haste is not an exact science like hit rating is, there is no hard cap for it. When a Hunter reaches 8% or above with their hit rating, then there is absolutely no value for the stat beyond that point. Haste however still has value beyond its so called soft cap. The reason for this is that although Steady Shot cast speed cannot be reduced any further, auto shot can can be fired more frequently.
As I’d said a moment ago, Beast Mastery Hunters are inherently soft capped already, so no need for them to stack haste. Marksmanship and Survival Hunters need almost 16% additional haste, which translates into 523 haste rating in order for them to be soft capped.
The Haste caveat and diminishing returns
The problem with haste is that it will not reduce our global cooldown. 😥 Therefore, it’s only real value is to get your Steady Shot down to a 1.5 second cast speed.
Although haste will still affect auto shot production, it has no impact whatsoever on specials after you hit the soft cap. Once you reach a point where you’ve lowered your Steady Shot cast time to 1.5 seconds, any additional haste will basically just affect auto shots and nothing else. So as you can see, stacking haste is only really valuable until you get your Steady Shot cast time down to the desired level. After that, it’s just allowing you to pump out more auto shots.
While more auto shots is never a bad thing, giving up more valuable stats such as hit, attack power and crit, over haste is a bad thing.
Ways to obtain haste
Obviously, gear is one place to look. In WotLK, haste is peppered over everything. For example, without even looking for it I have 8 pieces of gear on right now combining for a total haste rating of 307. Gear is an easy way.
Improved Aspect of the Hawk and Glyph of the Hawk
Another way to gain haste is by speccing into the Beast Mastery talent, Improved Aspect of the Hawk. When procced, each point in this talent will increase your haste by 3%, which is the equivalent of roughly 98 haste.
With a minimum of one point in Improved Aspect of the Hawk you can also add Glyph of the Hawk for an additional 6% added haste during the proc.
While IAotH does not provide a continuous boost to attack speed, it does maintain a pretty consistent uptime during long fights. Once it’s procced, the chance of it refreshing before it’s expired increases greatly due to the added amount of auto shots being cast within the 12 second window.
In theory, you could spec 5/5 into the Improved Aspect of the Hawk talent and get the Glyph of the Hawk, hence blowing you through the roof of the haste soft cap, especially if you’re already relatively hasted through gear. From strictly a DPS standpoint, this is actually a good idea anyway for both Beast Mastery and Marksmanship raiding builds.
IAotH as it pertains to…
Even though Beast Mastery has no real “need” for haste, the reason that IAotH is strong for them is due to the spec’s heavy reliance upon white damage from auto shots. If BM’s highest damage grossing ranged attack is Auto Shot, then it stands to reason why you’d want to increase that number.
Marksman Hunters are also going to want to max out this talent along with Focused Fire, because it offers the best bang for the buck once the MM and SV trees have been dealt with. Again, even if your IAotH procs put you way above the haste soft cap as MM, you’re still going to be cracking off auto shots like a Gatling Gun, thus increasing white damage and Go for the Throat procs. It’s a win-win deal.
Survival has less reliance upon Steady Shot since the spec possesses a more complicated rotation. Over the course of a long boss fight, a Survival Hunter will have cast fewer Steady Shots than a MM, and far fewer then a BM Hunter.
This is good, because Survival Hunters are going to have a harder time reaching the haste soft cap via IAotH, especially if said Hunter is not hit capped and needs points in Focused Aim. However, due to the bargain that is Glyph of the Hawk, a Survival Hunter can obtain approximately 295 haste just through one point in IAotH along with the glyph. Pretty cool huh. The other 228 haste should be easily obtainable through gear.
Haste and Hunter PvP
By this point you probably already know what I’m going to tell you here. Haste is a pretty useless talent for PvP for obvious reasons. The two abilities that most benefit from it, Steady Shot and Auto Shot IAotH procs, require you to be standing still.
A stationary Hunter in a PvP situation usually means dead Hunter. Trade in your haste for crit, attack power, armor penetration, or hit if needed.
Haste is a “good” stat for DPS. It’s not as good as crit, and definitely nowhere near as good as attack power or hit. It’s not a stat I would favor over a better one as far as gear itemization goes. It’s pretty common on most of the WotLK pieces, so you need not go out of your way to get it. It’s also something you’ll definitely not ever want to gem for. Although that might change in Cataclysm… who knows…
In my opinion, none of the specs really need to worry about haste apart from some SV builds. MM and BM, as long as you’re rocking 5/5 in IAotH you’re golden. If you’re Survival specced and you only have a point or two to spare in the BM tree for Improved Aspect of the Hawk, then you need to be conscious of the amount of haste you have from gear.
15.95% haste is needed for both Marksmanship and Survival specs in order to be haste soft capped, which means lowering Steady Shot to a 1.5 second cast time.
32.79 haste is equivalent to 1%
523 Haste would be the amount needed strictly from gear, in order to reach the haste soft cap.
Improved Aspect of the Hawk provides roughly 98 haste per point, and roughly 492 when maxed.
Glyph of the Hawk adds an additional 6% increased attack speed, equivalent to 196.74 haste.
/end wall of text
Hopefully some of this helps you decipher what haste means to the Hunter and why you would or wouldn’t need it.
I swear… I sit down to write an assumed simple post with a concise explanation, but what comes out is a 1700 word dissection. Sheesh… blogs are hard.
Also, don’t ask me what Chuck’s doing at the top of this post. I just thought this topic needed more Lone Wolf McQuade. That, and at least one pic amongst the onslaught of verbiage.