I was surprised how fast the Hunter changes came. Reading through them has me thinking. Of course this is all “in theory” and I would expect some tweaks as the testing progresses.  Here I’ll recap what Blizzard posted and I’ll share my thoughts on these changes. Feel free to add your own comments or concerns to the new changes. Please no flaming.

New Hunter Abilities

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

By the look of things, Hunters have a choice between two filler shots. My guess is Marks hunters will probably favor Steady still since their 2-Teir talent bonus is armor pen, while BM and Survival will favor Cobra shot. As explained Cobra Shot has a 2 second cast timer, similar to steady now, but BM hunters will have a talent that lowers this to 1.5 seconds.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

I like it! In fact, the other day while in ICC  we were in the small spider gauntlet room I thought, “gee it would be nice if I could shoot my AoE trap over to the mobs instead of running to the mobs to place it down at their feet.” I also see SV hunters having a lot of use from this too. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t they get a lock and load proc from some traps? Plus having no global cooldown may allow Hunters to place traps into a rotation for a little more dps or help a group of mobs stay contained without having to move from their pew-pew shot.

Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

It’s baaaaaack! Remember when we first heard about Wrath and there was talk of this ability? I do. I also recall the screaming of hunters being more rogue like and how unfair this was. Hopefully they keep it this time. The ability sounds amazing for PvP and soloing. The only question I have is, where does the pet go? Does it go into the camouflage state too or will it follow you around while your hidden? **

Resource Mechanic Change

* Hunters will no longer use mana; instead the class will use Focus. Focus generates much like Energy, by building up. It will not be affected by Intellect at all. Haste will improve its generation. Hunters will generate roughly 6 Focus per second, slightly less than rogues’ Energy generation rate of around 10 Energy per second. Below, we have listed some examples of how we intend Focus costs to operate:
o Steady Shot/Cobra Shot: No cost. Generates 9 Focus per shot (or 12 per second instead of 6).
o Arcane Shot/Chimera Shot /Explosive Shot: 45 Focus.
o Aimed Shot/Multi-Shot: 60 Focus.
o Concussive Shot/Tranquilizing Shot: 35 Focus.
o Rapid Fire/Master’s Call/Disengage: 30 Focus.

On paper it looks good, but we need to test it to see how it functions. As of now, Steady is our ‘filler shot’ for our main shots, with Auto shot sprinkled throughout. With Steady and Cobra allowing the regen of focus along with the haste we will see on our gear and enchants, hopefully we won’t see ourselves being focus starved. I think this change will take time for us to get used to of use to, but I welcome it – for now.

* A major change coming for the hunter is the removal of ammunition. Guns, bows, and crossbows will now do damage without consuming ammunition at all. There will be no more ammo slot on the hunter’s character display. Any ammunition that a hunter has at the time of the change will become gray sellable items. Existing quivers will be converted into large bags — though each hunter can only have one and non-hunters will not benefit from this change — and we will not be making any additional quivers.

Interesting idea with the quivers. Will there be a run on quivers and ammo bags before the expansion? And will the quiver and ammo pouches be normalized? If I keep my Nerubian Reinfoced Quiver will it turn into a 28 slot bag? That would be cool.

* Pet management will also change. Hunters will now have two types of attainable pets: active pets and stored pets. Hunters will be able to have up to three active pets (perhaps five for Beast Mastery specialized players) and will have the ability to switch among these pets any time they are out of combat, without going to town. They will also be able to have a large number of pets in storage at the stables. In order to swap a pet from active to passive, a hunter will still need to visit their local Stable Master. However, this should afford ample storage for the many Spirit Beasts wandering the lands of Azeroth.

I know this was touched upon in Blizzard’s last Twitter Q & A but be still my beating heart!! Does this mean I can have more pets? /em jumps up and down in excitement.

* Additionally, hunters will now start with a race-appropriate pet at level 1 and will be able to tame a different pet at level 10. We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below:
o Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).
o Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy’s Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability Rampage).
o Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).

This is really neat change and it should make a Hunter more versatile. Not to mention we should see a lot more different pet families too. Again, if we are allowed more pets I look forward to finding more – but not leveling them. Will Blizzard finally allow the pets to level when we level?

* Stings and other periodic effects will now benefit from haste and critical strike ratings. Hasted damage-over-time abilities do not lose duration, but instead add additional damage ticks.

I see what they did. I noticed a lot of classes with dots can crit now so why not serpent sting too? Interesting ability with Haste. I see Haste becoming a very big deal for Hunters in Cataclysm.

* Viper Sting will now restore 9 Focus every 3 seconds.

It’s  neat that Viper Sting will stay around. Yay for focus regen.

* We are reinforcing hunters as a ranged class. To this end, the class will now start with ranged abilities at level 1, and we will be removing some melee abilities, such as Mongoose Bite.

Does this mean can we finally shoot creatures at point blank? If so, I hear the cheer of a million Hunters crying out in joy.

New Talents and Talent Changes

* Beast Mastery hunters will have a new talent called Careful Aim, which increases the damage of the next Steady Shot or Cobra Shot, but also increases the cast time of these abilities. The intention is to make the combination of spells into a decent damage opener, especially in conjunction with the new ability Camouflage.

Decent damage opener in conjunction with Camouflage? This will need to be explored in Beta. It has me intrigued.

* Beast Mastery hunters will also have talents that make Cobra Shot superior to Steady Shot, such as Longevity reducing the cast time of Cobra Shot to 1.5 seconds.

I like the idea of BM finally has a signature shot. I’m sure all the BM hunters out there like it too.

* Rapid Recuperation will cause Rapid Fire to give 20/40/60 Focus immediately and will cause Rapid Killing to generate 3 Focus per second.

Change the mana coefficient to focus and boom, the  talent is updated for Cataclsym.

* Efficiency will reduce the Focus cost of Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot.

Go go Marks tree, unless they move it to another tree.

* Thrill of the Hunt grants Focus when you land a critical strike.

Will it still work on pets too? I really, really like this updated change.

* Hunter vs. Wild increases the hunter’s Focus generation when his or her pet is snared, stunned, or rooted.

This will help a little in PvE but I see this as a huge change for PvP.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Beast Mastery

* Ranged Damage
* Haste
* Pet Damage

Pet Damage: Many of the passive benefits to pet damage will no longer be available in the Beast Mastery talent tree. However, these will be provided through the new Mastery mechanic.

I like these changes to BM and really look forward to play with this spec again.

Marksmanship

* Ranged Damage
* Armor Penetration
* Double Shot

Double Shot: The hunter will have a chance to launch a free attack off of the global cooldown for 50% damage.

Double Shot = built in Zod’s Repeating Longbow. And look, Armor Pen bonus to the Marks tree! I doubt it will be anything like it is now but we’ll have to see how it relates to all these changes in Cataclysm.

Survival

* Ranged Damage
* Ranged Critical Damage
* Elemental Damage

Elemental Damage: Hunter abilities such as traps, Black Arrow, and Explosive Shot will do elemental damage of the following types: Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow.

Survival hunters dealing magic damage? Interesting spin on the tree but I like it.

** And some clarifications that were added later on

A clarification of Camouflage and what becoming obscured actually means:
Camouflage is *not* stealth. Your enemies will never wonder where you are. We’re trying to use the new Cataclysm water effect to put a shimmering PREDATORy visual on you. It’s protection from ranged attacks and it gives you some combat bonuses, but it’s not like Shadowmeld or rogue / druid stealth where players can’t find you.

Stop whining all you lesser classes!!!  >:3

The idea with it is that Hunters are only vulnerable to melee attacks or ranged AEs while they are in the obscured state. If you target a camo hunter or a rogue using Smoke Bomb, you will get an error message saying something like “Target obscured.” You can see them and target them, but can’t use your attacks. Imagine they are behind a pillar or something. You can try and get off an AE near them or you can move to melee.

As most of you know, we tried Camo once before, but because it was true stealth it was very hard to balance, plus it felt like we were just handing out the same cool abilities to every class instead of coming with unique mechanics. Hunters were so overwhelmingly excited about the basic idea that we wanted to try it again, but not as stealth.

Regarding Cobra Shot sharing cooldown with Steady Shot:
At this point in time it’s not actually a cooldown. Cobra Shot has a 2 sec cast time, but Beastmaster has a talent to reduce the cast time to 1.5 sec (as well as a few damage hooks). Both generate focus so there is no reason for BM to ever use Steady again.

Regarding focus and how much of it Hunters will have:
Hunters will get 100 focus

The focus costs mentioned in the preview are just examples, so it is a little too soon for you to try to min / max your rotations just yet. In general, the basic rotations of all three hunters work okay on live today. With focus you might hit moments where you don’t need to Steady at all, and you’ll never run dry again for long periods of time like you might with mana.

If the costs of some of the defensive cooldowns are too expensive or even need to be free that’s certainly the kind of thing we’ll consider.

Regarding Ammo in Cataclysm:
There is no ammo slot on your character sheet in Cataclysm. It no longer exists.

There is no spoon.

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