Monday, September 17, 2007

Why for me at least, a Hunter ISN'T a DPS class

I find myself wondering...can there be such a thing as a spec identity crisis? I'm fairly sure that's what I'm experiencing right now.

I did my first Shadow Labyrinth run with my guild yesterday morning. We wiped three times on Murmur before killing him. Although my trapping was solid earlier, I was dead last on the sacred damage meter.

That made me think; obviously my dps sucks, because if it didn't, I wouldn't have been at the bottom of the list, and we would have been able to drop Murmur a lot faster than we did. I'm also remembering the smug pronouncements that I've read on the forum about two Survival Hunters in any group (or even an entire guild, apparently) being a waste, due to both EW clashing and Survival's customarily abysmal damage output. My class officer and I are both Survival, and he hasn't expressed a problem with me staying Surv, despite me having spoken to him about it. I also figure that because I don't want to be a liability to the guild, I should do whatever I can to try and improve, damage wise.

So I go and respec BM again; a crap BM build as well. Completely by accident, I ended up getting a couple other things and missing BW.

Flash forward to this morning. I'm feeling extremely tentative and uncertain. Farming water motes in Nagrand was going fine, but then an RL friend with a 63 shaman msges me and suggests attempting we try and two man Ramparts. I say ok fine, although I have grave misgivings about our ability to do it. Ramps is actually one of the hardest instances I've done in some ways.

So we go in. First few pulls are tricky, but we get through. Eventually we get to a point which, despite it being a three mob pull that ordinarily (as Survival, of course) I could handle, due to having Wyvern Sting and less chance of trap resistance. I drop trap, lure one of the three mobs over to the trap, and put the pet on another. The mob that was supposed to get trapped resists, all three mobs congregate on me, they kill me, and then the shaman. We try again, trap gets resisted, same result. We try again, and exactly the same result. My repair bill by this point is nearly 10g, so we agree to leave it. I logged out, and came to write this post.

My problem is that I really don't know what to do spec wise at this point. I've spent the last close to 18 months playing Survival; it's got to the point where I feel as though to a degree the tree is instinctive, at least as far as trapping is concerned...and it is also a mirror of my own playstyle/psychology. My DPS is terrible, yes...but usually, when I'm soloing at least my CC can chunk it down enough for me to be able to cope.

People are hence going to say fine, play the way you need to, be Surv, problem solved. That isn't the solution to the problem. The single main reason being, that although in BRK's case, a Hunter might be a pure DPS class, in my own case that isn't the case.

As Survival, my DPS sucks. It's beyond horrible; I'm struggling to clear 300 in 5 mans according to the meters I run, and although I've been top a couple of times, I've been at the bottom enough to know that the only times I'm at the top are when the rest of the group are people who don't know what they're doing.

However, what I have become moderately ok at I think tho, is CC. Again you might be saying, fine and dandy, if Surv works for you, be Surv. Where this argument again fails though is that I've been reading that CC virtually isn't used in raids. In raids apparently, there is nothing other than DPS.

I want to raid, but my dilemma is, if raiding is only about pure DPS, then by playing the way I know how, the only way that I really feel that I can, I'm apparently only going to be a liability to the group I'm in.

I actually don't think I'm the only person who's experiencing this problem. According to a recent forum post I read, on the EU servers at least, the number of people speccing 35+ point Survival has risen by around 3.6% in the last few months. That means that there's going to be a lot more people who, like me, are caught in the dilemma of playing a (comparitively, at least) non-DPS spec for what is supposedly a pure DPS class. The single main reason why this is a problem is because of how difficult it then becomes for us to convince guild and raid leaders, and other Hunters, that we're both credible and necessary. It's like what Shadow Priests have undoubtedly experienced, except in reverse. Priests are socially expected to be a healing class, and so because when as Shadow they want to DPS instead, it isn't accepted because it goes against the majority's expectations. By contrast, Hunters are meant to be a DPS class, whereas Survival is largely about doing other things besides pure damage.

Something else also happened this morning that really made me think. I found myself thinking that if I didn't know how to play BM as a spec, all I'd need to do is go to BRK, read what he'd already written, and I could learn. That then brought back to my mind the comments that people have already left on this blog, that before me, for Survival, a resource like that didn't exist. At the risk of sounding horribly arrogant, (especially considering that I don't feel as though, being honest, I really have anything like the level of ability needed for this) apparently I've ended up becoming the Louis Skolnick of Survival. As someone who'd read this blog said to me on the forum last time I experimented with BM; "Mirsh, you've gone BM. That just seems...wrong, somehow."

It's caused me to realise, thinking about it now; I can't turn tail and run on this, to a spec which I don't know how to use anywayz. For a long time among the Hunter community from what I saw, a scenario existed where Marks was the dominant spec, BM was the fringe or "different" (but still tolerated) spec, and Survival wasn't something mentioned at all in polite society; it was as though the tree literally didn't exist. It was considered the domain of nerds, freaks, and the mentally unhinged, and if mentioned was again forgotten about as quickly as possible. Among WoW's social mainstream, before patch 2.1, speccing Survival simply Was Not Done. It isn't coincidental that posts on the forum where people ask about Survival are reminiscent of what it sounds like when people start realising that they might possibly be homosexual; Survival among WoW players has literally had almost a similar level of stigma attached.

Now, that is ever so slowly beginning to change. The number of people willing to look at the tree and experiment with it is rising; there are forum topics being made about it every day. Survival is, at long last, coming out of the closet. For the sake of being true to myself, and the sake of said people who are potentially going to need advice, whether I end up raiding or not, I need to stick with the tree for that.


Thomas said...

Mirshalak, I can sympathize. As an old school survival hunter, I was dismayed at what had become of the spec. However, I stuck with it. I stuck with it as other hunters giggled with glee at the power of the silencing shot. I stuck with it as hunters everywhere started turning red with bestial wrath.

Having played my hunter for over 2 years, I too knew these joys. I knew the joy of unleashing a devastating barrage on your opponent. I also knew the thrill of turning red and unstoppable. Yes, my dps was terrible. Yes, I too began to question my value to the raid as I showed just ahead of the healers on the damage charts. In 5man pugs, I was often shown as 3rd or 4th on the damage meter.

Yet, I continued. Despite the naysayers, I continued. Maybe I just wanted to be different. Maybe I was a masochist. Maybe, this was simply the way I liked to play and the way I'd play if I was a warcraft character.

In warcraft, like life, some things simply cannot be measured by damagemeter alone. Despite my abysmal dps output, my groups were successful. There was many a group that suddenly experienced unexpected success. Despite my low damage output, raids went smoother. I like to think that even at that point, I had enough savvy and provided enough utility with a bag of tricks to scrape out a victory where one would not have been had. There were quite a few sub-optimal groups that experienced unexpected success with my presence.

Little by little, I started getting better gear. A green would be replaced by a blue. A blue would be replaced by a better blue or even an epic. Bit by bit, I scraped together better gear. The difference really wasn't noticeable until one day, it hit me.

My 3rd of 4th place showings in 5mans suddenly became 1s and 2s. I also became a noticeably better Deterrence tank. While I still don't come anywhere near the top of the damage charts on raids, the damage was respectable and raids became much smoother. People started seeing new damage records whenever I was around. My expose weakness was giving the raid an extra 200AP per person!

PvP was another enlightening experience. I went from 'free kill' to 'hard to kill'. I became a terror for rogues. I even took down warriors in melee on occassion!

At this point, my unbuffed agility has surpassed 700 and I'm really enjoying the benefits. I also know that this can only get better as my gear improves!

I sympathize with your plight. I can only tell you, if you choose to do so, you can persevere and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Mirshalak said...

Thank you, Taita. :):)
That was very encouraging. I am going to continue.

In terms of the power of the silencing shot...maybe it's just me, but I've always thought that in that area, Wyvern Sting was a lot more powerful. Silencing might stop a caster from casting for 3 seconds, but Wyvern stops a caster from doing *anything* for 12, including melee or even movement. I've had it work as a pre-emptive counter to Fear before.

Do you use Wyvern a lot yourself?

Tom said...

I played Survivor for a little bit and what I found, at least for doing DPS is well, you have to work harder at it. With BM I can be in the top on DPS just hitting Arcane Shot and Kill Command when up. Recently I started playing with an actual shot rotation and started seeing massively more DPS.

When I was SV I was still just trying to Arcane/Kill when up. I bet if I had a shot rotation then, I'd have done even more.

So my thought and questions to you. Do you use focus macros for trapping? If not, set 'em up (/cast [target=focus] PullingShot, I forget the set/clear focus off the top of my head). Then do your trapping thing and fire off an Auto Shot, Steady Shot, Auto Shot, rotation. Unless your weapon is just too fast, that is. That might help bring you up a bit.

Mirshalak said...

Yes I do, but thank you for the suggestion. I only started using them fairly recently.

I came across

on the forums, which is a fantastic guide to using focus; there might still be a few bits in it that you could find useful, maybe. :)

Mirshalak said...

That link got cut. :( Let's try this...the link is here.

Xizang said...

I was a Marks/BM Hunter (16/42/3) for quite a while, and then respecced 0/21/40 SV.
The loss in DPS was tremendous, especially as far as the pet was concerned.
My objective upon respeccing was to bring EW into the raid and still provide as much DPS as by any means possible. This means I skipped almost any melee talents along the way. My raid really appreciates this decision. But this probably depends on the setup as well. We are very balanced between physical and spell DPS, so there are a serious amount of people who profit from EW.
Biggest problem along the track is stacking enough agility to make it work, though. I started out at slightly above 500 when I respecced, and I am now at slightly below 800, just 6 weeks later. Raidbuffed 1000+ are possible.

I have also worked a little on shot rotations and skipped keeping a manual steady-autoshot up, favouring a macro'd steady-auto with arcane weaved in and another one with KC when it is up. This has brought my DPS almost on par with our raid's MM (excluding our pets). The extraordinary amount of crits one can deliver under raid conditions makes up alot of the lacking white DPS.

But as you already mentioned, there is no real space for two survivalists in one raid. Statistically this is inprobable yet anyways.

Concerning off-tanking with SV spec, I had an experience in shattered halls two days ago:
When we were at the second last boss (don't have the name ready...),
the twin-headed oger keeping two aggro-lists, I happened to be on top of one of his lists without the tank being able to take him off of me again. I switched to AotM and just kept going, as FD was on cooldown. The healer was fast enough to make the switch, but i dodged and parried almost any attack anyway. Felt good ... :)

Karthis said...

"Where this argument again fails though is that I've been reading that CC virtually isn't used in raids. In raids apparently, there is nothing other than DPS."

Whoever told you that has been feeding you a line of crap. In Karazhan, at least, good CC is vital. You'll be able to employ your skills there.... no worries.

(Hell, even BRK has talked about CC in Kara.... remember his recent post about all hunter CC in the Moroes fight?)

You'd better stay survival..... my mini-survival hunter needs guidance. ;)

Xizang said...

CC in Kara is vital, but it can easily be done even without being SV at all.

Once you hit 25ers (I connot comment on Hyjal and Black Temple yet), you will be judged by pure DPS. If you are lucky enough (like me), your raid will take the benefit of Expose Weakness into account. But speccing SV for raid purposes leads to a pretty predetirmined spec of 0/20/41 imho, with only 1 point that you can put in Savage Strikes, Entrapment, Deflection or Improved Wing Clip.
Ironically enough, I sacrificed one point in Survival in favour of Scattershot. It is my favourate instant short-term crowd-control utility...

Mera said...

Sounds like you lack gear :(

Thomas said...

Hi Mirshalak,

I use Wyvvern situationally.

In terms of power, Wyvvern sting is certainly more powerful as crowd control, but not as an effective interrupt.

In PvE, I tend to save the wyvern until we get to a tricky pull. I also use it whenever the situation hits the fan and a mob is clubbing on our healer (there have been a few moments where I am chain trapping one mob, wyvern sting another mob going after the healer, counterattacked another mob in place, and still focused fire on the main target).

In a PvP situation, I'll try to wyvern a healers or another caster (usually warlocks) and then focus fire on another target. I'll also use wyvvern to take out another hunter if I'm in his crosshairs in a one on one situation (wyvvern + immolate + wing clip and melee will tend to put many non-survivalists at a disadvantage).

In my opinion, wyvern has the greatest impact in PvP. If anything, it's probably because there are so few survival hunters, it'll probably be unexpected. Most players are probably expecting to deal with red angry pets or silencing shots. Getting put to sleep probably surprises people more than anything .

Personally, I tend to use wyvvern as more crowd control than spell interrupt. The 2 things I don't like about it are the cast time and the fact that damage breaks the CC. As a spell interrupt, I think silencing shot works better. While a caster is locked down for 12 seconds, he can trinket out and resume casting or simply wait until you hit him. 3 seconds of instant no casting can be a fast trip to the graveyard for any caster.

Both the BM and MM tree have a viable, instant, spell interrupt. Unfortunately, I think wyvvern cast time causes it to come up a bit short in that regard. If Blizzard ever decided to make wyvvern an instant or make the sleep a stun instead, I think that would be a step in the right direction.


Ashraf said...

I'm willing to bet that you're going to be fine-- you're freshly 70, and there are a lot of easy gear upgrades you can get now that you may not have had access to before (a little extra agi and ap never hurt anyone's dps, right?). Not to mention that with dailys possibly coming your way, gold will be everywhere;any enchant and any craftable will easily be within your reach.

Also, don't lose heart if your dps is low in a 5-man. If people are looking to you to provide CC like only a survival hunter can, you're going to be all over the place at times; trapping, stinging, drawing mobs off the squishies, kiting, and best of all, popping readiness if you have it, and saving the day when things go bad. Sometimes that means you're not busy shooting, and well, dps goes down. Sometimes CC really is more important. Anyway, you'll be fine! Good hunting! :)

s4dfish said...

regarding your comments on difficulty trapping in Ramparts. I'm 90% sure that some mobs there are immune to traps, so your problem is universal.

I'd remind you though that a Survival hunters strength lies in his versatility and utility. Traps that don't break and are chained to infinity, Wyvernn Sting (which is seriously underrated IMHO), and Deterance tanking are a serious asset to any group. EW is great for a raid, but is out weighed in a 5-man group by the benefits I previously mentioned.

I'll take utility/versatility/wipe prevention over 100 DPS about any day of the week.

Foong said...

Bm Hunter is the best dps spec among hunter, no doubt about that survivor doesnt seems to be so low rated dps as u say. I playing as the sole surv in my guild and i consistently out dps all mages and some lock and staying top 2-5 all the time and (1st is BM), maybe our guild rogue is bad or wat but surv is not a dead road for us hunters. 2.3k AP + 35% cric (45% when MT procs or 50% when with a Feral)) bring big numbers all round. So be proud playing with ur choosen spec.....