Patch 3.1 is here, and it’s en force. That’s French for “you’re about to get hit in the face”.
Things have changed for hunters. Big changes, every tree, no exceptions. None! So don’t go thinking you’re not changing, ’cause things are changing.
How’s that for redundancy?
The Beastmasters are having a field day with all the new stuff afforded to them. Well, not really “new” per se for us, but the changes to our already existing abilities will change us quite a bit.
Okay, not much of that either. Aside from the new pet talents, nothing has changed for beastmasters.
You guys have all read these patch notes, so I’m not going to bother doing anything but linking them. However, there is something I will be doing: I’m going to detail what talents I will be using in our new raiding environment. Although our talents may not have changed, our raiding environment has in a big way.
A note before I begin: I have been unable to to actually play for more than 2 weeks over the past year, so anything I say will require testing and a pinch of salt.
The spec I’m going to be using for raiding looks like this: 52/12/7
I have put together this spec from reading bloggers who have been able to play the game, and from the input I’ve been reading about what Ulduar is like for beastmastery hunters. So far, not only is it fun/hard, but it’s also very different from what we’re used to.
From Chain Lightning to Firebreath, the AoE damage in Ulduar is huge. You will be hit, and you will be hit a lot simply by being around. This talent spec will hopefully address this huge change while increasing our DPS.
The beastmastery tree, to all intents and purposes is almost exactly the same as the earlier 53/18/0 build of yore. Do you see the difference? It’s almost like finding Waldo, isn’t it? Happily, this is actually a lot more obvious. Cobra Strikes is missing a rank, isn’t it? The reason is that we needed that point somewhere else.
If you’ll take a look at the Marksmanship and Survival trees, you’ll notice that things have gone either: 1) Crazy or 2) terribly wrong. Not to worry everyone, the trees are acting normally. In fact, this particular way of putting in the points makes a lot of sense if you think about it a little. Allow me to explain.
One of the big glaring problems in the Marksmanship tree is that we are missing the Improved Arcane Shot talent. We didn’t put any points in it! We’re also missing 2 ranks in Mortal Shots, a talent that’s normally maxed out. So where did those points go? This is where the Survival tree kicks in.
We have 5/5 ranks in Improved Tracking, which accounts for our missing points. Improved Tracking increases all of our ranged damage by 5%, whereas Improved Arcane Shot only increases Arcane Shot‘s damage. Arcane Shot is not the majority of our damage: annoyingly enough, it’s Steady Shot. Thanks to Pike from Aspect of the Hare, I’ve learned that Improved Tracking does more DPS than Improved Arcane Shot(I know it says “Pre 3.1” in the title of the article, but since nothing changed on our end, it still works). In addition, I hate leaving talents half maxed, so I took 2 points from Mortal Shots to increase my ranged DPS by a further 2%.
That’s not the only reason I wanted to max out Improved Tracking: the other reason I put 5 ranks in it was to get to Survival Instincts higher up in the tree. This talent perfectly meshes in with the Beastmaster tree, and yet it’s in the survival tree. We should steal it…
We can discuss the heist at a later date. For now, let’s concentrate on our big questions here: why Survival Instincts, and where did the points come from? The answer to our first question is simple: because it’s perfect for a beastmaster. A 4% increased chance for Steady Shot and Arcane Shot to critically hit? That’s all win for us, as we love our crits, and these are our two most used shots to boot. The more we critically hit, the more our pet crits, the more damage we deal. Synergy is the name of our game, and we have it in spades with this talent.
The other reason we took Survival Instincts is for the 4% reduced damage from all sources. Because of the rampant AoE damage in Ulduar, damage is something that can and will happen. Anything we can do to lessen the damage a little bit is a bonus, and Survival Instincts is perfect for this: 4% reduction to all damage, and Increased chances to critically hit with our 2 most used shots. Combined with the 5% from Aspect Mastery, and we’ve just gained 9% damage reduction from all sources.
The answer to our second question is easy to answer as well. We took 1 point from Go for the Throat and 1 point from Cobra Strikes. 1 of these points is easy to justify: Go for the Throat(GftT). We Beastmasters have a neat talent called Bestial Discipline; thanks to this talent, most of our focus problems are completely solved, and we have no need for 2 points in GftT. 1 point is still needed to keep our pet form being focus starved, so we didn’t take 2 points from here. If I were to raid with a cunning pet, however, this would change things. More on that later.
The second point we took was from Cobra Strikes. Unfortunately, we needed all of our points form everywhere else. Cobra Strikes, although a highly useful talent, needed to be cut down to give Survival Instincts its full power. Hopefully, and this requires testing, the 4% increased critical hit chance to Arcane Shot and Steady Shot will negate the lost point in Cobra Strikes and keep our pet critting all the time anyway.
Equally important for us is how our pets are talented. Beastmasters have two real choices when it comes to pets: Cunning or Ferocity pets. Let’s take a look at how to talent our pets to our best advantage:
This is how a Ferocity pet’s talents should look like if your are going to raid with one. We’ve taken as many DPS talents as possible in the hopes of maximizing our pet’s damage. If you are still learning the ropes of Pet Management, then take 1 point from Shark Attack and place it in Heart of the Phoenix until you have mastered how to manage your pet. It’s important to learn this skill as it is, in essence, how your pet will survive. So learn to manage your pet!
Another change you can do is taking your points in Bloodthirsty and putting them into Improved Cower. This does, however, shut out the opportunity to use Heart of the Phoenix if you need it. It also makes Pet Death a bigger problem: it’s not possible to feed an unhappy pet while in combat.
Now, for Cunning pets, it should probably look like this…
Most of these make perfect sense, and most of them can’t really be argued: you need all the points where we have them in order to maximize DPS. However, you’ll notice something odd: I took Bullheaded.
This talent is, without a doubt, PvP centric. Your pet dispels any effects that cause it to lose control, and it takes 20% less damage for 12 seconds.
Normally, you’d dismiss this talent: but we aren’t going to do that. Why? Because that last part, “take 20% less damage for 12 seconds”, can save our pet. When a fight starts getting really intense, our pet can and will be in the midst of a lot of harmful effects. Using Bullheaded at a crucial moment can save our pet, and save our DPS. It’s a poor man’s, every-cunning-pet Shell Shield with an added bonus of being able to regain control of the pet.
A big benefit to having a cunning pet is the Owl’s Focus talent. Thanks to Owl’s Focus, you can take the last talent in GftT and put it in Cobra Strikes, filling it out completely. This only works if you have 2/2 Owl’s Focus on the pet though.
In a nutshell, without any hands on experience, this is how I believe a beastmaster should be talented for a raid environment. There’s really not much else to say other than test you talents, practice your pet management, and you’ll be alright when the Death God comes.