February 25, 2009

WoW Patch 3.1 PTR Hunter changes

The notes for Patch 3.1 and news on some undocumented changes to classes and glyphs have recently become available, and there are plenty of changes in store for us hunters. You can expect some changes to all three trees (some of which are rather minor) as well as changes to how our pets and glyphs. Lets take a look at some of the information coming down the pipe and see just what effect it will have on our game play.

Beast Mastery

The Beast Mastery tree is slated for just one minor change at the moment. There were hints from Ghostcrawler previously that the tree would receive buffs for Ulduar, but so far nothing major appears to have surfaced. For now, Improved Aspect of the Hawk is receiving a minor facelift in the form of a new spell effect being added to the talent.


For Marksmanship, there are a few more changes coming our way. Piercing Shots is being redesigned to add a bleed effect to your Aimed Shot, Steady Shot and Chimera Shot abilities. Previously, this three point talent increased your armor penetration on Steady and Aimed Shot by up to 6% at Rank 3. Now, however, this talent may actually prove useful (since armor penetration definitely left something to be desired). At Rank 3, the new Piercing Shots will cause your target to bleed for up to 30% of the damage dealt over 8 seconds, giving the talent much more bang for its buck. For example, if your Steady Shot deals 750 damage, it will apply a 225 damage bleed effect on the target for 8 seconds. Same goes for Aimed and Chimera Shot. With this effect being applied to two heavily used Marksmanship rotation shots, keeping this bleed effect up constantly should be no problem, and will certainly provide a boost to overall damage.

Another change for the Marksmanship tree is a switcheroo for our old pal Ranged Weapon Specialization. This five point talent is getting dropped to a three point talent that, when maxed, will still provide the same 5% damage bonus. This will free up a couple points to make use of the buffed Piercing Shots talent, for example. Also, Wild Quiver is seeing some buffs as well. This three point talent that provides a chance to fire an additional shot when dealing damage with your Auto Shot which deals Nature damage is getting an increase from a 10% chance at Rank 3 to a 12% chance, and the damage of the Wild Quiver shot itself is getting a buff up from 50% of Auto Shot damage to 80% damage. It may not be a huge change, but for those already spending points in Wild Quiver the damage increase and increased proc chance is definitely good news.


The Survival tree has plenty of changes in store for it in patch 3.1 as well. For example, Hunting Party, formerly a five point talent, is being reduced to a three point talent that will also increase your Agility by 3% at Rank 3, giving this talent more luster in the eyes of Survival hunters. The changes to this talent will give it a lot more synergy with other talents of the tree such as Lightning Reflexes and Expose Weakness and will finally provide hunters with a reason to take the talent other than to play replacement mana battery for a night.

The changes to Lock and Load, however, are not quite as nice at first glance as some of the other changes we've seen so far. Previously, the key factor in favor of Lock and Load was its chance to give you two "free" Arcane or Explosive Shots when dealing periodic damage with Serpent Sting (which with the advent of Wrath became a cornerstone of any shot rotation). The new version of Lock and Load will have a reduced chance (6% at Rank 3, down from 10%) to proc off periodic damage, and that effect is now only triggered by the use of Immolation Trap or Black Arrow. Black Arrow is being added as a 9th Tier talent in the Survival tree that fires a Black Arrow at the target, increasing all damage done by you to the target by 6% and applies a debuff that deals 10% of your RAP plus 785 Shadow damage over 15 seconds. This ability will cost 6% of our base mana, it has a 5-35 yard range, and it will be instant cast and have a 30 second cooldown. The switch on Lock and Load to a dependence on Serpent Sting to Black Arrow will be a tough adjustment at first, but this is really an opportunity for Survival hunters to weave a new shot into their rotation that will deal a significant amount of damage. Change isn't always a bad thing, my friends.

T.N.T. is seeing some changes as well. Instead of increasing your chance to critically hit with Explosive Shot and a chance to stun on your Immolation and Explosive Traps, T.N.T. will now give a flat damage increase to your Explosive Shot, Explosive Trap and Immolation Trap – 6% at Rank 3 – as well as a 100% chance at Rank 3 to refresh the duration of those two traps on the target. Now, the increased critical strike chance for Explosive Shot from the previous version of this talent was great, but a constant, scaling damage increase will provide more reliable results. Sure, the more frequent big crits on Explosive Shot were awesome, don't get me wrong, but a scaling damage increase to the shot should at the very least even out the change.

There are a couple more minor changes coming to the Survival tree as well. Trap Mastery is being moved closer to the top of the tree, giving hunters of other specs a chance to make use of some solid trapping utility and Wyvern Sting's duration is being increased from 12 seconds to 30 seconds for PvE making it a more reliable form of CC. Unfortunately, the bad news for all you PvPers out there that are fans of Wyvern Sting is that the PvP duration of this ability is being reduced from 10 seconds to 6 seconds.


First, a couple minor changes to pet talents. Roar of Sacrifice is now a Hunter-only buff, giving us a bit more survivability. Sure, that's tough luck for our raid or party members, but Roar of Sacrifice wasn't exactly a clutch ability for raiding and your healers should easily be able to pick up the slack. The change simply means that our healers will have to spend even less time worrying about us than they did before. The Rhino's Stampede ability is also on the chopping block this time around. This ability will now only affect one target, but will add a bleed effect (which will, unfortunately, not stack with Mangle) in addition to the original knockback effect.


To go along with dual specs, hunters will be getting a new ability in patch 3.1: Call Stabled Pet. This ability will allow us to call a pet from our stables no matter where we are in the world and replace the pet we currently have summoned. This ability will be instant, but cannot be used in combat and will have a 30 minute cooldown. The bad news for our lowbie brethren is that this new ability will require Level 80 to train and use. The benefits to this change are obvious – how many times have we all lamented having to make a trip to the stables to swap pets? Now we'll be able to swap pets without seeking out a stable master every 30 minutes if we choose which is especially handy if you're using the new dual spec feature to swap out of Beast Mastery.

In addition to this new ability, we're going to see some changes to Kill Shot. Kill Shot will no longer have a minimum range, meaning it will be effective within melee range of your target. This change will be particularly great for PvP hunters trying to finish off an opponent you're having trouble kiting, and PvE hunters will also appreciate the increased flexibility. Also, the cooldown on Disengage is getting a minor increase, from 25 seconds to 30 seconds.


First, lets start with some new glyphs that will be available to us come patch day.

Glyph of Chimera Shot will reduce the cooldown of Chimera Shot by 1 second. This glyph will be nothing earth-shattering, so you can probably overlook it especially if you have Glyph of Serpent Sting to increase your sting's duration (meaning you won't need Chimera Shot so soon to refresh it). Glyph of Explosive Shot increases the critical strike chance of Explosive Shot by 4%. With the changes to T.N.T., this glyph will be a must-have for Survival hunters. Glyph of Kill Shot will reduce the cooldown of Kill Shot by 6 seconds. This new glyph will probably not be all that helpful to PvP hunters, but PvE hunters whittling away at a boss will find it helpful to get in an extra Kill Shot or two before its time to collect loot.

Glyph of Scatter Shot will increase the range of Scatter Shot by 3 yards, giving PvP hunters a bit more flexibility. Glyph of Explosive Trap will give your Explosive Trap damage the ability to critically hit; however, this trap is so seldom used in practical game play that the usefulness of this glyph is questionable. Depending on what level it will be available at, perhaps hunters still working their way through the leveling process will find some use for it. The final new glyph, Glyph of Raptor Strike, will be good news for PvP hunters. For 5 seconds after using your Raptor Strike ability, you'll take 20% less damage, which will help make the get-away process that much easier when you're stuck toe-to-toe with melee classes.

In addition to these new glyphs, there are going to be some changes to the glyphs we already know and love. Glyph of Aimed Shot is getting a facelift – instead of reducing the mana cost of Aimed Shot, this glyph will now reduce the cooldown of Aimed Shot by 2 seconds. A change from 10 seconds to 8 seconds isn't all that significant and frankly, I would've preferred they keep the mana cost reduction on this glyph. The increased movement speed provided by Glyph of Aspect of the Monkey can now only occur every 20 seconds, meaning a minor nerf for you PvP hunters out there. Glyph of Wyvern Sting is also getting a minor tweak; this glyph now simply decreases the cooldown of Wyvern Sting by 6 seconds (instead of 10 seconds with a damage nerf). Glyph of Snake Trap now increases your snakes' survivability, rather than giving you two additional snakes, making this a bit more viable but only slightly so. And finally, Glyph of Aspect of the Hawk was renamed to Glyph of the Hawk.

Wrap Up

There's a ton of information to digest here, but by and large it seems like Hunters have been spared a severe beating with the nerf bat this time around and most of the news coming down the pipe has been relatively good. At the moment, that's all the information on hunters currently available from the PTRs on patch 3.1. More information will, of course, be posted as it becomes available and tips from readers like you are always welcome!

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