Tag Archives: Hunter4Life

Legion Marksmanship Hunter – Doing Poor Well

Despite always feeling that, “this time I am leaving WoW for good,” I find myself subbed again and getting ready for Legion.  What brought me back?  I still have a larger group of online friends in WoW than any other game.  That, and I wanted to see what was going on with all of these Hunter changes!

Well, not quite all.  Never been a big fan of BM, although I have played it from time to time when the situation called for it (like all of TBC and the first few months of Wrath).  Other than those dark days, I have mostly trended towards MM and Survival.  Survival has had its moments of greatness (Wrath trap-dancing, come on!), but MM usually was the better option from a pure kill-the-thing quickly perspective.

With that history, I did a little reading up on the current state of the specs and decided that I would try out MM and Surv in the Broken Shores scenario and Legion invasions and try to figure out which spec suited me for Legion.  My plan for Legion was questing, dungeons, and maybe some light raiding, so I don’t need to be the greatest DPS  of all time.  That being said, I like seeing my name at or near the top of the Recount list, because I am a bit of a narcissist.  So, I went to Icy Veins, figured out the ideal DPS setups and went out to test them in the real virtual world.

After some hiccups, I decided that I loved the feel of Survival and its new, rather complex rotation.  It had some nice synergies and big numbers.  After a little while, I even started getting use to being in melee range.  The one thing, however, that I could not get past was that Disengage was gone.  In its place was Harpoon, a 30 sec. CD ability that pulls you to your target.  On paper, this sounds like a great idea, since you need to be on your target to be doing damage now.  In practice, not having Disengage frankly sucks.

Back in the day, I went to the Frostheim school of Jump-Disengage.  It provides amazing mobility, particularly when you can use it out of combat.  On top of that, the Posthaste talent gives you +60% move speed for 8 seconds after disengaging.  People are complaining about the change to Aspect of the Cheetah (short speed boost on a 3 minute CD), but Disengage+Posthaste makes Aspect of the Cheetah almost irrelevant.  Moreover, it always brought me great joy flinging myself all over the place, even when completely unnecessary or somewhat annoying to others in the group.  By contrast, Harpoon only works in combat, and the speed boost of Posthaste seems very situational.

So, the lack of Disengage ruined Survival for me, and I turned to MM instead.  Actually, I turned to MM earlier, but I didn’t like it.  The optimal DPS setup of Sidewinders (replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot, has a cooldown, but applies Vulnerable) plus Patient Sniper (Vulnerable debuff does not stack, is much shorter, and Marked Shot and Aimed Shot do quite a bit more damage) almost roots you in place for several Aimed Shots and can be quite boring.

Realizing this might get a little technical for non-MM people out there, the core of the spec revolves around applying and utilizing,  eh, screw it.  Just read the first two paragraphs of what Wowhead says here, and you will get the gist.  Okay then, the optimal DPS build replaces Arcane Shot and Multi Shot and changes around the stacking nature of Vulnerable to make it more powerful and of shorter duration.  That basically reduces the rotation for MM to Barrage (when available)>Sidewinders>Marked Shot>Aimed Shot*2.  There is a little nuance, but I said “basically.”  I dislike.

After abandoning Survival, I tried MM again.  Still, ick!  So, I played around and came up with what is likely to be a sub-optimal build, but I like it.  Hopefully, I will not get laughed at too much.  There also is not a ton of guidance out there on MM builds that do not use Sidewinders/Patient Sniper.  So here it is, my help to getting your MM Hunter to the middle (or bottom) of the pack.

This is my talent setup:

MM Build

And here is a link to my Non-Optimal Marksman Talent Build.  I am only going to talk about a few talents and then focus on the spastic, movement-friendly rotation.

First, is Lone Wolf.  The other talents kind of suck, but I do like my pocket tank, I mean pet.  When questing, I will probably take Steady Focus and keep my pet with me.  When I have a tank, all signs point to Lone Wolf being head-and-shoulders better than the other talents.  Alternatively, Black Arrow, with its taunting shadow fiend, is a decent choice for questing if you really hate pets but want something to keep the hate off you.

The meat (or lack thereof) in this build is Sentinel and Piercing Shot.  These are, in no way, a DPS increase over the other, preferred talents.  They do, however, allow you to apply Vulnerable in a less stressful, easier to manage way, and deliver a huge amount of damage every 30 seconds with Piercing Shot.

Here is the general idea of the rotation for a single target.  For multiples, just replace Arcane Shot with Multi Shot:

  1. Fire Piercing Shot on CD, when your Focus is 100+.  The damage scales from a lot to a whole bunch depending on how much Focus you have, so you may want to Arcane Shot your focus up if it is about to come off CD.  It is also a great Misdirect opener!
  2. Next, fire Barrage.  If you just used Piercing Shots, you will likely need to weave in an Arcane Shot to build focus.  Also, neither Piercing Shots nor Barrage benefit from Vulnerable, so fire these firsts.
  3. Next, get your three stacks of Vulnerable up on the main target.  You can do this either through natural procs of Marking Targets, or force the situation with your two charges of Sentinel.  Between those two charges and natural procs, you should be up to 3 stacks in no time.
  4. Any time Marking Targets comes up, fire Arcane Shot to trigger Hunter’s Mark, then fire Marked Shot.
  5. When Marking Targets is not up and your other shots are on CD, fire Aimed Shot to dump focus and Arcane Shot to build it up.

You also have Lock and Load procs (2 free, instant cast Aimed Shots) to account for.  Aimed Shot does less damage than Marked Shot, so in the priority list, I would place these free shots below Piercing Shot, Barrage, and Marked Shot, but above an Arcane Shot with Marking Targets (or any other Arcane Shot).  If Piercing Shot is coming off CD, however, I might go with the Aimed Shot proc to build some focus over Barrage or Marked.  In addition, if I have less than three stacks of Vulnerable and the ability to apply more (Sentinel, Marked Shot, or a Marking Targets buff), I would get the stacks up first.  I have nothing to back either of these point up other than general feel.

The only other major issue to account for is your DPS cooldown, Trueshot.  Trueshot makes every Arcane/Multi Shot apply Hunter’s Mark, meaning you can sit there and fire Arcane Shot>Marked Shot repeatedly during the life of the buff.  This is a great way to reach three stacks of Vulnerable without using Sentinel, which can then be saved for times when you want to get off another Marked Shot.  In addition, Trueshot increases haste, lowering the cast time of Aimed Shot.  I’m still not sure whether a long burst of Arcane Shot>Marked Shot beats using hasted Aimed Shot.

Since this build does not use Sidewinders, Arcane Shot is always available for focus regen and applying Hunter’s Mark.  Along with Sentinel, in my limited experience, you will be using Marked Shot in this build much more than in the optimal build.  Piercing Shot also gives you another massive damage dealer on a medium cooldown.  The combined result is less of a reliance up Aimed Shot than the optimal build, which means more mobility.  In addition, no CD on Arcane Shot means small mistakes (like firing off both charges of Sidewinders right before Marking Targets procs) shouldn’t hurt as bad.

More important that all of that is that I like this build better than others and see myself enjoying it.  I hope that it is somewhat competitive with the optimal build, so that I am not gimping myself or my group when rolling it.  It is tough to sit at a dummy and compare different MM builds because it is very RNG dependent.  In my limited testing, however, this build did appear to come in only about 5% lower than optimal.

Good luck with whatever you choose!


Good DPS – the Unsung Hero of the PUG

I often read people’s horror stories of their terrible PUG experiences in just about every online game I have played.  I am regularly shocked by the alleged atrocities committed by seemingly average players on other seemingly average players.  We all come to the dungeon entrance with the same goal.  So, what goes wrong in the intervening 30 to 90 minutes?  I have no empirical data to answer that question, so I am going to agree with the masses – it is the DPS’s fault.

I base my hasty conclusion on a personal observation and a stereotype.  Who could find fault in those?  First, the observation.  I have had very few bad PUG experiences in my game-playing career.  While I play less often then most, I probably spend a greater than average proportion of my time PUGing.  I almost always queue as DPS, and I think that I am a somewhat better than average DPS player.  Assuming that I am not consistently PUGing with great, wholly rational players, I have to assume that being good at the DPS role has a significant impact on the enjoyment of my PUG experience.

Second, the stereotype?  Your average player queuing as a tank or healer is better than your average player queuing as DPS.  Why do I make the blanket assumption?  First, tanking and healing are perceived as harder than DPSing.  Second, the tanking/healing skillset is different than the leveling/grinding skillset.  Obviously, this is not universal, and there are bad (or poorly specced/geared) tanks and healers that queue for PUGs, but I have to think on average, if you are brave enough to jump into the queue as a tank or healer, you know something about what you were doing.  On the other hand, while there are certainly good DPS out there, you are more likely to find the lowest levels of skill and maturity taking the “easy way” and going in DPS.

Thus, based on very little actual analysis, I conclude that queuing as DPS means that you are more likely to take a spot in the group from an underachiever than you are to take the spot of an good player.

So, what does it mean to be a good DPS.  In other words, what rules should you live by to make your PUGing more enjoyable as a DPS player and what impact can you have?

Never Talk, Ever.

My first rule actually has nothing to do with how you play and everything to do with how you conduct yourself.  As DPS, no one cares what you think about anything, how awesome you are, or that speed at which you should kill things.  You will not have a smooth trip through a dungeon if you start talking, because everyone in the group assumes that you are a dumb, loud-mouthed, entitled jerk.  Oh, and you are the most easily replaceable member of said group.

With that said, the following are acceptable in small doses:

  • Hi! (exclamation point may be a little too pushy)
  • Ready (but only if asked, unsolicited readies make it seem like you are dictating pace)
  • R (better than ready, you show you are efficient)
  • Nice tanking (only if said following an actual display of nice tanking)
  • Nice heals (see above)
  • Thanks or TY (after rez or port)
  • Good Job or GJ (usually reserved for the end of the dungeon)

Finally, on a slightly more serious note, it is also acceptable to say at the beginning of the dungeon “My first time in here, any tips would be appreciated.”  That shows that you are willing to learn, but not so willing that you would actually read up on an encounter beforehand.  It also gives you an excuse if you die (you will).

But do Interrupt

It’s the tank’s job to interrupt, right?  It sure is.  When the tank misses the interrupt, you can curse said tank out, blame him for the wipe, and shame him until he drops group.  It should only be a few more hours before you get another tank, right?

News flash, even given my singing the praises of tanks and healers above, tanks in PUGs always forget to interrupt.  On top of that, some encounters have more interruptable abilities than the tank can keep up with.  As DPS, you usually have some tools to take that job on yourself.  Next time, instead of being resigned to the big damage that will result from a missed interrupt, do it yourself.  If you have a squishy tank or noob healer, you will make a nice impact on their ability to keep up with the damage from bosses and are much more likely to survive.

Remember the Basics, and Live by Them

Kill shit, don’t die, amiright?  Those four little words, however, are the key to making a dungeon run work.  If you can’t kill something before it kills your group, it’s game over.  This is why so much of the success you encounter in a PUG is dependent on good DPS.  No matter how strong a tank is or how leet the heals are, they cannot make up for the inability of your killers to kill things.  Good DPS, on the other hand, can help make up for shortcomings of any member of your party.

First, kill things quickly, in the right order (whatever the tank says), without pulling hate.  What impact does being good DPS have on the group by killing shit fast and right?  First, if you have other, really bad DPS, you serve as a counterbalance.  If your other DPS is closer to average, you help to shorten the fight and take pressure off your maybe undergeared tank or healer.  Again, participating the interrupt game further assists your tank and healer.

Second, stay out of the bad.  We all know that dead DPS is no DPS.  Moreover, the more damage you take, the less time the healer can spend healing the tank.  If you are doing your job and staying alive, you can get by with a fairly weak tank or healer.

In Summary, I am Awesome

Actually, not so much.  There are plenty of players who are better than me who have sworn off PUGs due to their horrible experiences.  The major difference I have seen is that they often play the tank or healer role.  Assuming my assumptions are correct (double-assumption, FTW!), by queuing as DPS, I have increased my chances of eliminating a very bad or very immature player from the group.  I also have the benefit of being one of the least likely in the group to be yelled at when things go to hell, unless it truly is my fault.

Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going

It has been over two months since my last post, and my three readers (including myself) are probably wondering what’s been going on in my super-interesting gaming life. So, without further ado, here is the story:

Love for Marvel Heroes Waxes and Wanes

During the last couple of months, I have continued playing Marvel Heroes with various levels of commitment. In the last month or so, I have realized that is one of the great things about a free-to-play game. I am not compelled to log on because I am not paying for the privilege of logging on. I can play as much or as little as I feel like.

In the last couple of months, three great things happened to MH. First, a new zone was added that throws constant spawns of large groups of enemies at you. In addition, they have multi-boss fights, something I have wanted for as long as I have played the game. “Oh look, Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants just spawned. Let’s go beat the shit out of them!” In my book, this zone is one of the best experiences in the game. The drawback to this zone is that you cannot easily bring a pre-made group into the zone, so playing the best content in the game with your friends is almost impossible. This is supposedly going to be fixed in the next major patch (late-September, early-October).

The other major step forward was a big tweak to the defense system, allowing melee to feel much stronger and less likely to be one-shot. The game strikes a good balance between making you feel powerful, but still in danger at times, although the game may be a tad on the easy side at times.

Finally, they added difficulty modes, allowing you to run story missions at higher levels for better rewards and tougher fights. All together, the game feels so much better than it did at launch, and there is much more to do.

On the flip-side, because this is a Diablo clone, there really is only one thing to do – kill everything that moves. MH does a great job with it, but the ARPG genre lacks a lot of what typical MMOs have – exploration, visible character advancement, alternative activities to killing all things. Many MH reviews savaged the game for this reason, but that is not what the game is.

I am going to continue playing MH here and there, particularly when new modes are released, like X-Mansion Defense coming in the next patch. Also, when new characters come out that I am interested in. Gambit and Nightcrawler should be out this year, and I will most definitely check them out. I did, however, start to miss some of the more traditional MMO trappings. So, where do you go when you want to get your true MMO experience?

Enter Pandaland

That’s right, I was finally going to check out the famed Pandaria. I started out leveling my lowbie hunter that I have messed around with earlier in the expansion (for less than a month). After a couple of weeks and leveling to the mid-40s, I said to myself, why am I wasting time with this guy and not back on my level 85 hunter trying out the new-ish content? So, I jumped back over to the original Yngwe, purchased the expansion and started out the leveling process.

There, in Pandaria, at around level 88, I realized that WoW holds very little of interest to me anymore. It’s not that the game is bad, it may in fact be the best than it’s ever been. Here is the rub for me – I raided for three years. Most of the friends that I made through this time either don’t play anymore or they are scattered to the wild winds. Friends are nice, but I have played, and enjoyed, many games without a built-in network of friends.

The problem is, while in the middle of this leveling journey, I know where the train leads. That is to LFR and daily quests. Sure, there are pet battles and farming now, or so I have heard, but I am a raider in Wow, first and foremost. Because I can only play once or twice a week, I don’t have time for anything other than the march to raiding, and that march just is not fun anymore. Kill 10 of this, travel there, kill something else, go somewhere else, participate in a vehicle quest, sit through a cut scene. WoW dangles the carrot in front of you, but I just can’t bare to move my legs to chase after the carrot. I have done it too many times before, and the game mechanics do not hold up for me anymore. I hadn’t even made it to max level, and I already was getting tired.

The straw that broke the camel’s back with my return to WoW was vacation. I didn’t play the game for a week before vacation, then I was unable to for 10 days. During that entire time, there was not one instance where I said to myself “I can’t wait to get the chance to play the game again.” After returning from vacation, I went another week without playing. At that point, I started to think, “I better play, since I am paying for it,” but I still could not force myself to log on. At that point, with less than two months on this current stint, I canceled my sub.

So what now?

A New Fantasy is Born

Around the same time I canceled WoW, I read this post from Lono about Final Fantasy XIV. I have been a fan of Final Fantasy since the original game for the NES in 1987. Granted, I haven’t played any entries in the series since VII, but I still have a strong sense of nostalgia for those games, particularly the original and III (in the U.S., some other number in Japan).

Lono’s description of the game made me think that it had what WoW is missing – for me. I did a little more reading and decided that I would jump in.

I am only about 20-25 hours into the game, but I am happy to report that it is exactly what I am looking for. It is not so different from WoW, but it does a lot of things very well. Chief among those is the class/profession system, which allows you to be any class and any profession that you want. Instead of making a tank alt, just go learn the tank class on your main character and level it up. Although you have a GCD of 2.5 seconds, long compared with other games, combat feels faster and more fluid for me than WoW.

But it is the class system that makes me love this game. I have no preconceptions of Final Fantasy XIV. I have no goal I need to reach. I have nothing I need to do. I can do whatever I want to do that day and that minute. I have tinkered around with the Archer class and have leveled Leatherworking. I have decided to run a few more story quests, because a mount is not far off. Once I do that, I think I want to check out the Conjurer (healer) class, because I think it would be handy to have the Cure (heal), Protect (bubble), and Raise spells. I also want to level Botany and Carpentry, because I want to see if I can make a High Quality Bow for myself.

And this is why FFXIV works for me. As a casual player with only immediate, reachable goals in mind, I can do exactly what I want to. There is nothing that compels me to log on, and there is nothing that compels me to do anything in game that I don’t want to do. With the sheer amount of classes and content, I could see enjoying this for a long time, and that has me pretty excited.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will be spending the majority of my gaming time in FFXIV, with the occasional foray into Marvel Heroes. As of today, everything is good in my gaming world.