Lots of rumblings in the Hunter community over the past week due to the blue posts in the Official WoW Hunter Forum. Last week Ghostcrawler responded to a host of questions concerning plans for Hunters in 3.2 and beyond.
As expected, a lot of the answers were fairly vague and non-committal, which is what we usually expect from Blizzard. However, a few of the changes that Ghostcrawler hinted at did sound promising indeed, even if there were no immediate plans to introduce them.
Among the many topics addressed was the need to buff Beast Mastery either by a signature shot, buffing Arcane Shot, or by giving them a non-shot based special ability. While BM shouldn’t necessarily be the top DPS spec as it was in TBC, it shouldn’t be so far behind MM and SV like it is now.
It’s hard to tell exactly where Beast Mastery will fall in the next patch. I haven’t raided as BM on the PTR, nor do I intend to (not enough hours in the day). I did some target dummy testing with both my current Marksman spec and the assumed top BM DPS spec in 3.2. Marksman came out ahead by a considerable margin, but the tests were largely inconclusive due to a couple of things…
First off, my gear is gemmed and enchanted mostly for Agility which obviously benefits MM a lot more than it does BM. Secondly, my MM build possesses TSA, where as the 3.2 BM DPS spec goes without Ferocious Inspiration. With the advent of the Kill Command cooldown reduction on Catlike Reflexes, it looks like most BM Hunters are dropping Ferocious Inspiration for it due to the Sanctified Retribution overwrite.
The BM DPS build I used for testing on the Patch 3.2 PTR looked like this: BM Raiding Build in 3.2. The pet I used was of course my Devilsaur. Although I had some scary burst on the target dummy to the tune of about 4K, after five minutes of sustained damage my BM spec dropped to the 2.8K-3K range. Also, keep in mind that my gear is all ilvl 200-213, with the 2pc Valorous bonus.
My highest DPS attained as BM (3054), was 190DPS shy of my lowest score as MM (3244DPS). I was able to hit about 3.6K-3.8K pretty easily as MM, using a wolf for a pet. Again… this type of testing is pretty crude as it doesn’t take into account any buffs, along with my gemming being more ideal for MM, but it still seemed pretty imbalanced. Imbalanced enough to make me think that MM and SV will still have a pretty good edge on BM in the coming patch.
So… I’m of the belief that BM will still need a little more love in order to make it competitive with the other two specs. The question is… how to do it?
As I’d mentioned at the top of this post, Blizzard has hinted at three possible choices to buffing BM. One idea is to give BM a signature shot, just as the other two trees have. One one hand, I like this idea a lot because let’s face it… BM is pretty goddamn boring to play, at least in raids anyway. For me to say that counts for a lot, considering I’m a die-hard Beast Mastery guy. But on the other hand, it could make BM overpowered, plus it would also make the tree feel similar to the others. BM is a pet based damage tree, not a ranged one.
Another option is to buff Arcane Shot deep within the Beast Mastery tree. To me, this seems like the obvious choice. A very simple fix would be to buff Ferocious Inspiration and make it a worthwhile talent for BM. They could bump up the damage on Arcane Shot to say 5/10/15% (as opposed to 3/6/9) and also rework the raid-wide damage buff so that it doesn’t get overwritten by the Ret Pally buff – maybe make the buff specific to physical damage. Hunters are ranged physical damage dealers, so why not make FI like TSA, thus only affecting physical classes. The physical damage boost would help BM Hunters a lot, considering white damage and pet damage is the majority of their DPS.
Lastly, it was brought up that BM could be buffed in other ways. This is a challenging approach since there aren’t a lot of options for buffing BM that won’t put the pet above the Hunter as far as damage goes. As it stands, BM pets account for roughly around 40%-45% of the Hunter’s overall DPS. I do agree that the Hunter should always be dealing more damage than the pet, so aside from buffing ranged attacks, what change(s) could be made to improve BM Hunter DPS?
That’s an interesting one to ponder for sure. What do you guys think? In what way(s) could BM be improved that would buff the overall DPS without the pet becoming too powerful? One idea that just came to mind could be to reduce the Hunter’s GCD while TBW is active. This would provide a nice synergy between Steadies and Cobra Strike procs while enraged. I’m not sure if that change is plausible, but it would be quite nice for both PvE and PvP.
Another place to look would be reworking Aspect of the Beast, as it is largely unused at this point for a DPS boost. Perhaps Aspect of the Beast could be changed in a away so that it benefits Beast Mastery Hunters, without too much of the damage boost going to the pet.
I could go on about this for days, but I think I’ll stop now and just wait for some comments. 😉 I’m anxious to see how you guys weigh in on this subject.