Elemental Hunter Rotations
Ease off, Shamani. I’m not edging into your territory.
Reading the final 6.0.2 patch notes, we find the sales pitch for ability changes for Hunters.
Hunters have lacked a strong distinction between the different specializations. What we mean by that is that the Hunter specializations all had rotations that felt similar, with Marksmanship and Survival having the most blurred identities (Beast Mastery felt well rooted in the pet). Hunters were also some of the most afflicted by button bloat. To address these problems, we opted to make changes to each specialization’s rotation, primarily through removing abilities, and making some of them unique to each spec. This means things like Aimed Shot being the primary Focus dump for Marksmanship, instead of Arcane Shot or Serpent Sting being available only to Survival. Hunters also had a large number of cooldown abilities, which we’ve also cut down (some of which we moved to the talent tree, competing with other active buttons).
Well, first of all, “tell me about it.” I’ve been whining about this for a while. Blizz may make this come across as a MoP issue, but I’ve seen the same interchangeability between the three specs since Cata, and its roots in the changes that took place in WotLK ((While MM has always been the most alien of the three, it still shares a lot in common between the other two specs. And in Cata / MoP, shifting between Surv and BM was a trivial move.)) .
Sure, doubt me. But I’m a systems guy, and the ability to spot the similarities between different systems is more or less a survival instinct in my field. We may not be able to prove that A = B, but we can prove that A+C = E, and B+C = E, therefore A must be hella lot like B. And we might not have an A but we have a B.
And what I’ve noticed for a long time is … well, it’s best illustrated by a little sketch.
The gist is this: hunter rotation, regardless of spec, amounted to a general flow that felt more or less the same no matter what spec you ran. The spec you ran more or less depended on the results of several runs on SimCraft. It didn’t matter what the periodic nuke was called, it always appeared in the same place of the rotation. It didn’t matter how you replenished Focus, it always occurred at the same spot. A focus dump is a focus dump. Sure, there were flourishes. You had a small array of periodic nukes to fire off, for example, and the main distinction between them was where in an encounter they were deployed. Didn’t matter. It’s all the same, with different names ((Incidentally: the same rotation works for a Demo lock, excepting that the nuke swaps places with the focus/mana dump, and occasionally a demo lock switches to an alternate rotation that more or less looks the same but has different ability names … but I digress.)).
The only reason I’m bringing this up now is that in this patch, Blizz have more or less made a commitment to giving the different specs a different way of working. And I’m saying it now: if they end up normalizing on the same general rotation as depicted above, they have done nothing that they haven’t tried before.
The names of the abilities don’t matter. If the rotation is more or less the same with nothing different than the name of the abilities used, or the order in which they are used, then they have failed to deliver on the implicit promise presented in these patch notes.
I’m not saying they haven’t.
I’m saying that this is the yardstick against which they will be measured with regards to the Hunter ability lineups. Maybe not on WHU, but measured nonetheless. If I end up able to shift between the three specs without any trouble at all, they have failed to deliver on that implicit promise. The DPS purist may not care; the DPS purist is excused from this discussion.
Well, except MM. MM’s always been weird.
A final note: I find it fascinating that my perception of the hunter trichotomy differs from Blizz’s. They see BM as being “different”. I see MM as “different”. They feel that the use of pet abilities makes BM different than the other two. I feel that the odd rotational cadence of MM makes it stick out from the other two. I see pet abilities as simple drop-ins for PC abilities. They see pet abilities as alien to the rotation. One of us has a far different view of the Hunter class than the other. Painfully, it means I will lose this battle.