I Choose You…(more real thoughts on beastmastery)

7 May

gondria

(Caveat Lector – I wrote this at work – so I’m all over the place.  Be prepared for sudden and jarring tangets…)

So each night as part of my regular round of dailies I’ll end up popping out of survival and into my beast master talent spec.  Out will come Loque’nahak and together the two of us will run around and moonfire stuff.  With the Argent Tournament regularly sending me down south past Zul’Drak, I’ve been doing a very, very casual hunt for Gondria.  I don’t get into the endless camping, or spending days in the same spot, hovering for hours while hoping against hope that my Rarefinder alert will go off.  

No – I prefer to just casually look.  

I figure that if it is meant for Gondria and I to hunt together – we will.  This tactic worked for me with Loque’ and I believed it to be the best course of action on this search as well.

So – last night on Moon Guard – around 9:30pm I put Loque’ away and brought out a Wind Serpent I had been trying out.  I hopped on my fast red flyer and zipped off to the Altar of Har’koa.   After doing a slow circuit around the regular Gondria spawn point I found little more than snow leopards and those red eyed kitties everyone is so fond of.  Total time on station – maybe 2-3 minutes.  

Figuring I’d been there long enough I cruised on up toward The Altar of Mam’toth and looked around that little corner filled with blue slime and tons of bat riders.  Nothing was showing up on my tracker so I hovered for a moment and figured I’d just hit the last spawn point real quick and call it a night.

Then I noticed  a little golden dot on the tracker.  Or at least I thought I did.  Honestly I wasn’t sure if I’d really seen it or not, so I stopped my flyer and did a slow circle.  Nothing.

Figuring the tiny blip to have been nothing more than an overactive imagination, I turned my flyer around and started to leave.

blip… 

And there it was again – just on the corner of my tracker.

Nudging my flyer very gently in its direction I brought the slowly moving gold dot into clear view.  I moused toward the dot and at that moment, the tool tip and Rarefinder both announced that I’d found Gondria.

There were troll flyers and slime all around – but luckily the big ghost cat had moved into a sweet spot just out of aggro range of anything unhealthy.  My red flyer darted in and deposited me right next to the slowly prowling spirit cat.  Heart racing I bid farewell to the windserpent (I had tamed him just down the road a few days earlier) and promptly dropped a frost trap.

Seconds later the translucent cat stood next to me awaiting a name and something to eat.

In a way – it had almost been too easy.  While my loot luck and instance luck might not always be that great – my hunters seem to have an inordinate amount of luck when it comes to finding rare spawn.  Still – if it had taken me a month to find the new spirit cat, that would have been just fine.  It’s the search that counts.  The combination of  what can be days of fruitless searching and the heart pounding climax of a successful hunt are quite honestly one of my favorite parts of the game.

So while  I seem to have fallen in love with the big bursty damage numbers of survival for raiding and pvp, my favorite off-spec for farming and questing continues to be Beast Mastery.  Thanks to the dual talent specialization I can now have both.  Even better, couple the dual talent specs with the ability to call a stabled pet to you from anywhere in the worlds and I genuinely think it’s one of the best times ever to be a hunter in WOW.

While there are a lot of folks that will tell you that you can quest and farm just fine as survival and marksman (and you really can) there are times when I just want to hang back, watch my pet demolish something and dps the hell out of it without having to worry about misdirects or feigns.  Beast Mastery is perfect for this.

imgres2The other really big piece is the pokemon principle.  Beast Mastery at its very core is a specialization devoted to the acquisition and care of your pet.  You have the ability to customize your furry friends to a far greater extent than the other hunter talent classes and the opportunity to tame a far greater variety of pets as well.

The last part – the taming of exotic creatures – is pretty cool and anecdotally I would say that beast mastery is probably one of the most popular talent specializations because of it.  While hard corp raiders go where the damage is (survival at the moment) Blizzard continues to aim changes at the Hunter class in order to make the final product less about which specialization you need to take to a raid and more about the player.  This is a positive thing I believe – even if it potentially means my explosive shots won’t be critting quite so deliciously as they do now.

That said, I think beastmaster hunters are suffering from not having enough real “arrows” in their quiver.  Marksman hunters have chimera shot, survival hunters have explosive shot and the new black arrow.  But beastmaster hunters?  Things haven’t changed.  While it’s arguable that this makes sense – as marksman and survival hunters are more an “archer” class while beastmasters are pet based, it does seem like BM needs something additional to manage in their dps mix.  Whether this means they need access to additional shots, talents, or procs that are beast based I’m not sure – but it feels like something is needed.  After all – if a beastmaster’s pet goes away – there goes around 50% of their damage.  In some of today’s raid battles where the bosses seem tailor made to off our pets – this is *really* difficult to manage.  Depending on who you listen to this is either working as designed (after all – you wanted to have a pet based dps class) or seriously broken.

I think I’m somewhere in the middle.

I do believe that if you’re going to depend on your pet for much of your utility – then it seems to make sense that you are also going to have to have some of your game play orient itself around the need to keep your pet alive.  Being a beastmaster shouldn’t mean you get to faceroll your way to success and bask in the performance of a pet that’s basically doing auto attacks while you spam 2 or 3 different shots.

imgres3That said – I think beastmasters should be afforded the ability to keep their pets up through heavy damage where other hunters really can’t.  It’s true that there are pet talents aimed at doing this such as “Lick Your Wounds” or “Heart of the Phoenix” – but in my experience, they don’t usually work very well – or at all.  Autocasting these abilities has for the most part been an exercise in “fail” – with the pet either firing the ability off in situations where it’s just not warranted or in the case of Heart of the Phoenix – simply being broken for quite a long time.  I think my solution to this would be to remove these abilities as pet talents and instead give them back to the hunter.  Add in some trained skills that either continue to buff mend pet – or maybe an ability that will front load mend pet into a burst heal for those times when a HOT just isn’t going to do the trick.

This to me seems to be a reasonable solution to making the beastmasters rotation a little more lively while also allowing them to focus on their pet.  After all, that’s kinda what you’re all about.

I do believe that if beastmaster hunters are going to be pet centric, then we seriously need a new infusion of pets.  While the devs at Blizzard seem to have equated “exotic animals” as a category that includes spirit beasts, rhino’s, chimera – etc.  I think they’d get a fair bit more traction if they simply added some slightly turbo

imgres4

 charged versions of regular pets into the mix.  After all – who wouldn’t like to have a bear that actually looks *mean*?  Or a cat or raptor that look like nothing else in the game…That’s what a lot of beastmaster hunters would go for.  After all – most of us enjoy our individuality – we want something to let us stand apart from the hordes running around with the new pet of the month (wolf) or just another spirit beast.  Regular pets classes can be exotic – they just need to be drawn that way  and included in an update patch.  I’m sure that I’m marginalizing something that actually takes the devs a great deal of work  to complete – but I think it is needed.  You can give us the greatest talent spec in the world – can give us outstanding damage and excellent raid utility – but if the pets aren’t cool – then why bother with the talent points?

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