Surviving The Patch

Courtesy Blizzard
He’s back, and he’s pissed.

Most of the people I know who play World of Warcraft are looking forward to the latest expansion, Cataclysm. Those of us who’ve played the previous games remember Deathwing, and are pretty pleased with both his place as this expansions ‘Big Bad’ and his upgraded appearance. Because if you want to communicate how hardcore you are, grafting dark iron armor to your freakin’ skin is a good way to do it. Anyway, Deathwing’s pretty pissed off at Azeroth. But not quite as pissed, I think, as some of the game’s players since the patch that introduced the class changes and altered some of the mechanics and strategies in a pretty radical fashion.

Since my only max-level character is a hunter, I can only speak to how the changes have really affected gameplay for him, so I’m going to do that. I do have a warlock and a death knight to level, but there’s Hallow’s End to take care of first. Meantime, here’s my pontifications on being a survival hunter post 4.0.1 and why everybody needs to calm the hell down.

It’s a hard truth but it’s something that needs to be said.

Our DPS sucks right now.

It’s not because we’re doing anything wrong post-patch, nor is it due to Blizzard nerfing the class. The problem is that 80 is no longer the highest level. The gear, the stats, the abilities and synergies are no longer tweaked for us to produce maximum DPS at level 80. In the meantime, we’re left trying to pump out as much damage as possible, when it is impossible to legitimately optimize since we’re no longer truly at level cap. The level cap won’t actually exist until December, so what should be a minor obstacle in our path to optimization is instead a hard barrier that makes a lot of people very upset.

It’s like driving down a highway in a car stuck in fourth gear. The engine wants to produce the speed we’re demanding when we stomp on the gas, but the transmission just can’t convey the right amount of energy to the wheels, so the engine makes a lot of noise while the wheels struggle to move more quickly. Fifth gear exists, we just can’t shift into it. That link between the gearshift and the transmission simply doesn’t work yet.

As a survival hunter, I definitely feel like something is missing. The priority of shots is slightly different, I’m still getting used to the focus mechanics (and I really like them, don’t get me wrong) and I only figured out how this new Call Pet functionality works this morning. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world. I’m not hurt or disillusioned over this. In fact, I’m kind of excited.

Lock and Load still works just as well as it did before the patch. And I love the hell out of Lock and Load. Now that Steady Shot’s cast time is based on 1.5 seconds, which is the exact duration of the tiny dot effect of Explosive Shot, weaving Steady Shot into the free Explosives proc’d by Lock and Load doesn’t require extensive haste gearing. Sure, it’s nice to shoot more quickly, but you don’t need to stack haste specifically to get there. There’s also the fact that we will be working Cobra Shot into that mini-rotation as well. Which brings me to my point and the reason I’m not complaining.

Our skills, gear and damage output will no longer appear “optimized” at our current level. They never will again. Our goal will now be to get to 85 and begin optimizing there. And along the way there will be other abilities to pick up, play with and work into our rotations. For hunters, that’s Cobra Shot. It does nature damage and extends the duration of Serpent Sting, and with Survival’s Mastery and Noxious Sting talent, that’s going to increase our damage output significantly. The problem is we’re not going to see Cobra Shot until December. So until then, we’re going to seem ‘nerfed’ even though we aren’t.

Basically what we should be doing now, instead of complaining, is figuring out how the trees have changed and if our old favorites are still up our alley. Again, using the specific example of being a survival hunter, I find I need to think about what I’m doing a bit more often when I’m shooting. Focus conservation seems to be the watchword and I’m still sorting out the best way to maintain it for delivering special shots when they’re off cooldown. If I ever get annoyed at my lack of Focus, I can try out Beast Mastery since I hear they have Focus coming out of their ears. I’ve never really liked the idea of having the bulk of my damage done by the pet, though. That’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in general, is we need to calm down. You can’t wander into the kitchen, look at the cake as it sits in the pan before it’s put in the oven and judge it like a finished product. You have to wait until it’s done baking, the frosting’s been added and appropriate extra bits applied. Then you can say for certain if it’s good or bad.

Right now we’ve got a lot of batter to work with. It’s not going to taste as good as it will in December. Once we accept that and work with what we’ve got, the next month and a half won’t seem quite so long.

Just my opinion.

3 Comments

  1. Sing it brother.

    Going back to BM, I’m still doing 4500 DPS unbuffed on Headless Horseman. And in dungeons, I’m usually on top of the meters.

    I’ve been telling people to calm down on the forums for the last few days (trolling Suggestions is a nice way to blow off steam at the end of the day).

    People think that because we still have a few weeks left in Wrath, that everything should still be tuned and balanced for us.

    Get over it.

  2. On the other hand, everything I hear about shadow priests – my sole 80 – says that we are now OP as fuck. I intend to enjoy the hell out of that for the brief time before we’re nerfed into oblivion.

  3. BTW, your fellow hunters whined enough that you got a hotfix.

    http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/10/20/patch-4-0-1-hunter-dps-hotfix/

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