Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gradual reconstruction of the site

Have spent most of the night working on some new posts which will be permanently linked from the front page. These are my own attempt at providing basic info about Survival in a post-3.0 sense, and hopefully answering at least a few of the questions I've been seeing on the forum.

I also need to do a more extensive Scholomance guide, since incoming links to the Lair from Google searches with "solo Scholomance," as the keywords average between one and five a day. It's fairly obvious from that, that soloing Scholo is something quite a lot of you still want information about.

Scholo won't be any challenge at all at 80; it isn't a real challenge now to anyone with above T5. Of course, even at 80, however, there will still be people levelling up, so for them a guide on it could still be worth something.

Anywayz, there will still be lots of changes for the next few days or so, I expect.

Survival specs for 3.0.

I'm going to list some specs which I'm either commonly using, or are in testing, for the three purposes of farming, five man instances, and battleground PvP, respectively. Although I do raid occasionally, it is infrequent, and I also do not generally play in the Arena at all. Hence, any advice on raiding specs will be tentative, and based on what I have found to generate the highest DPS in Heroics, primarily.

These specs are also subject to change as I do more testing of various stay tuned. ;-)

The New TSA vs. EW

Assuming people want to put points in Survival at all, said people are possibly going to be wondering whether or not to get Expose Weakness, or to only go as far into Survival as 3/3 Killer Instinct, (or 3/5 Lightning Reflexes, rather than Imp. Barrage) and put the rest of their points in Marks, in order to get Trueshot Aura.

As far as a group damage buff is concerned, the answer is fairly clear; TSA, since EW no longer buffs group damage at all, and TSA is now potentially raid wide. However, for personal DPS, it gets a little more murky.

At 1500 base RAP, TSA generates the same amount of bonus RAP as EW at 600 Agility; 150. However, TSA also needs another 500 RAP, (2000) to generate a 200 RAP bonus, whereas Expose Weakness only needs another 200 Agility for the same bonus, which is a difference that is well within the reach of consumables and raid buffs. (800 Agility total) This gap will also, of course, continue to scale up with higher numbers.

Pets are also an issue. The pet of a Hunter with TSA up will receive the +10% AP bonus directly, whereas a pet whose owner has Expose Weakness, will only receive 15% (Hunter to pet AP scaling) of what the Hunter gets. So for a Hunter with 600 Agility, that means 15% of 150 = 22.5 AP, which is pretty dismal, at just over 1.5 DPS. (14 AP = 1 DPS)

My conclusion is, thus, that Expose Weakness is better used in a group scenario (rather than soloing) where it has been taken anyway, as a prerequisite for Hunting Party. The good news here is that as demonstrated above, EW scales more efficiently than TSA for personal damage output. For solo farming, however, Trueshot Aura would be better, since it can add to pet threat generation, however since I also tend to want Noxious Stings, Resourcefulness and Trap Mastery for farming, I would probably end up having Expose Weakness in that scenario as well.

For battleground PvP, I will want TSA, since testing suggests that TSA with 5/5 Ranged Weapon Specialization is a better way to go, unless your Agility is greater than 800-850.

Farming spec. Get a Tenacity pet for this as well ideally, if you don't already have one. The Gorilla is what all the cool kids are doing, but I still love my Boar. ;-)

As I've said before, my own farming specs are usually based around Trap Mastery, and Imp/Noxious Stings. Blizzard have forced us to choose between Trap Mastery and Readiness at the moment; a scenario which I consider highly unsatisfactory, especially for instance farming. However, as long as you chain trap, that probably won't be too much of a problem, depending of course on what you're doing.

Five man/Heroic utility spec. The point of this spec is both crowd control, (Scatter Shot, Wyvern Sting, Clever Traps, and Resourcefulness for chain trapping) and Hunting Party.

Although its' raw damage output is substantially lower than the hybrid spec below, its' personal and group mana efficiency is exceptional, and 5/5 Improved Tracking, 2/3 Noxious Stings, 3/3 Hunter Vs Wild, and 3/3 Expose Weakness all mean that, providing that the base levels of Agility and Stamina are reasonable, personal damage output won't be truly attrocious, either.

Five man DPS spec. This spec is based on Alumatine's hybrid raid spec from TBC, and includes talents from both Marksmanship and Survival that add to your AP and crit chance, for high per-hit burst damage.

spec. Very similar, but with some PvP-specific adjustments; primarily Surefooted and Scatter Shot.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My second 70

Just a moment ago, I was reading a post from Pike about how she'd managed to get her alt Druid to level 60.

Given the second alt which I just started with a friend of mine yesterday, and especially the nature of some of my more recent posts, I've realised that my second (and most likely only other) 70 is going to be a Paladin. Granted, I'm not yet level 10 with the alt yet, but I was commenting to the RL friend that I WoW with just last night, that aside from range and healing, the playstyle of the Paladin is extremely similar to the way I play a Hunter as Survival.

I have another alt Paladin who is level 30, and I've done some low level tanking with him, in the Wailing Caverns, SFK, and Blackfathom Deeps. I also have a pure Prot/Shield Spec Warrior on Jubei'Thos who is around level 32 now, and I've tanked the SM Graveyard with him as well.

I love tanking; I absolutely love it. (Big surprise there for anyone who's read a lot of my writing, eh? ;-)) Of the dedicated tanking classes that I've tried, the Warrior is probably the most difficult and seems to require the most energy, especially for multi-mob stuff. Then again, the first few times I tried it, the Paladin probably had me tripping over my feet more; after I'd played a Warrior for a bit, the Paladin's tanking mechanics seemed very strange.

I also know that I probably should have just rolled a Paladin or Warrior early on, rather than a Hunter; however I think the biggest appeal was (aside from the added versatility of range) the additional challenge of being strongly defensive with Surv. We're actually given a lot more towards it in the tree than most people think, but there is still a bit of a need to be creative after that as well.

I might write about the new alt Paladin a bit here at times. I am going to spec either Prot for instances or farming I think, and Holy for battlegrounds at times. My focus, even with this Hunter, has never really been primarily on DPS, I will admit. Rather than doing damage, the thing I love in this game is the opposite; being a close to totally impenetrable brick wall that nothing else can get past.

With a Paladin, that's a lot easier than it is with a Hunter; but there have been a lot of times with Survival where I've been able to pull it off for just long enough as well. As I've written before, my favourite aspect of this game used to be Warsong Gulch, and that battleground wasn't about damage either. It was about either flagrunning, or holding the line.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I'm re-editing this post, as it is going to be one of my new series that are permanently linked from the front page. Nearly all of these will have the "basics," tag; think of them as a summary of minimal info where Survival is concerned. The other material in this post can be considered an introduction to those.

I didn't end up writing the Project Lore Hunter class guide, even though Brandon Sato wrote to me as well as Pike and asked that I do so; at the time, Pike was apparently initially asked to do a spec guide specifically for Beast Mastery, whereas I was asked for something much more generalised, which Pike ended up writing.

Although part of the reason at the time was severe, genuine illness, the other reason why I didn't end up finishing it is because I didn't (and still don't) believe that I was even remotely qualified to write a guide for the class in every area, and thus also greatly feared the amount of criticism that I would likely receive for attempting to do so. The beginning of my attempt at that guide is still on my hard drive, and there may come a time when I finish it and release it, however the odds of that occurring are extremely low. If you visit my Armory profile, you will discover that my Arena rating in particular is utterly attrocious, which is a testimony to my utter lack of skill where that area of the game is concerned.

There are four areas of this game where I feel that I am sufficiently qualified to offer instruction; those are levelling, five man instances, battleground PvP, and the soloing of five man instances. There are another two areas, however, where I have virtually no ability whatsoever, and they are the Arena and high end (post-Karazhan) raiding. As far as the Arena is concerned, I highly recommend Bandet as a source of information.

On the raid front, Alumatine has apparently left the game, at least temporarily; I will thus offer what advice I can in that area, (which is largely based on my own, very limited testing of recommendations he made that were current during TBC) but please bear in mind that as noted, raiding is not my primary focus.

Another BM respec

So, on logging into WoW yesterday, I felt I wanted to do something a bit different. I not only wanted to set up my talent points on a couple of pets, but since I've already used Marks (to a degree anyway) and Survival since the patch, I thought I'd try out Beast Mastery.

I didn't actually go the 51/10/0 path, since the word on the forum was that having so few points to spend in Marks, (particularly in terms of missing Go for the Throat) caused a nasty lack of damage.

This was the spec I used, and I haven't changed back from it yet, either. You will notice that I've taken Hawk Eye as the only talent from Survival. The comparitive lack of range was one of the main things that I used to miss during temporary BM respecs in the past, and the fact that I can now get Hawk Eye without sacrificing (and indeed, marginally improving with 2/3 CA) damage, was a welcome change.

I also got a Ferocity pet for the occasion; a white Ghost Saber from the cat statues in the ruins of northern Darkshore. This pet is, as has been said elsewhere, beautiful and very unique, and I will be keeping it after respeccing back.

To really try this out, I tried two different activities with it; a solo Scholo run, up to and including Rattlegore, and around half a dozen matches in Arathi Basin.

In Scholo, although my damage output seemed decent, the single main thing that stood out was the comparitive lack of mana efficiency. Although despite the patch's changes, I was sticking to the 1:1 rotation to attempt to conserve mana, I have, through long practice, learned to instinctively lean very heavily on trapping. I did here as well, even with this spec, and I definitely noticed the lack of Resourcefulness. For three mob pulls, I was generally having to drink every other pull or so, especially if I was trapping.

Bestial Wrath, however, was also wasted in Scholo; I only used it once, on Rattlegore himself, and that when he was 75% dead anyway. My usual strategy with him has been chain Snake and Immolation trapping.

I am, I will confess, exceptionally slow and methodical when farming, and I think that more than anything else is what has discouraged me from putting up any video footage of me doing so. Aside from the filesize being prohibitively large, even with editing, it would, I fear, be in danger of putting you all to sleep. Even though Beast Mastery still caused me to move slightly more quickly than usual, I tend to think that if anyone native to the tree had been watching, they probably would have commented that they had never seen it being used so slowly.

My primary rationale for this, of course, is to minimise threat, but a secondary priority is mana efficiency. There are few things I dislike more than having to kite mobs if it is avoidable, and as such, I tend to study the threat meter very attentively, and follow the pet's lead with attacking. This isn't necessarily just hollow, obsessive perfectionism, either; there are certain situations (such as multi mob tanking) where keeping mobs focused on the pet is vitally important.

Keeping a careful eye on my per-mob mana consumption is also critical; as I've stated before, with Surv anyway, running out of mana will kill me more often than running out of health will. I almost feel like posting in the Suggestion forum and asking if Blizzard could give Survival an equivalent of Spiritual Attunement, but I suspect the thread would get swamped by people telling me that I'm playing the wrong class. ;-)

Speaking of which, Omen 3.0 was released not long ago. It seems that with the new patch, Blizzard have finally released a native API for threat meters, (a wet dream come true, as far as I'm concerned ;-)) which Omen now uses, so I encourage any of you who still don't have it, to go and get it. Truly reliable, up to the second threat monitoring is a real Godsend.

My early AB games went well, but as time went on I began to notice some serious problems. Although I was able to use Bestial Wrath for some much needed vengeance upon the Priest class, (a Shadow Priest is customarily one of my few truly feared enemies with Survival, believe it or not; primarily due to the dreaded Mana Burn and Silence) I had difficulty against other classes.

For one thing, with Survival, I'm used to being able to kite melee classes to death. I hadn't realised, however, just how much apparent tanking was actually involved in said kiting, because as Beast Mastery, Warriors were killing me in 2-3 shots, whereas with Survival it usually took at least a couple more, even when kiting with a trap and Serpent Sting. I did notice that my health was down by around 1.4k as Beast Mastery; this apparently made a real difference. The Warrior is generally my easiest class to kill with Survival.

Given that I had thought BM was our anti-caster tree, the other thing that surprised me was in one particular match, where I started to get almost constantly slaughtered by Warlocks. My theory on that was again the health issue, since draining health is primarily what Warlocks do.

I'm actually torn on whether to keep trying with BM, or simply to go back to Survival. Even though I'm not planning on using BM permanently, part of me feels that in order to be truly proficient as a Hunter, I ought to be at least passably decent with all three trees. I'm wondering if respeccing for Endurance Training and Thick Hide rather than Imp Hawk and Focused Fire would help much. Thoughts?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Big Red Rhino added to my blogroll.

Just added the Big Red Rhino to my blogroll.

His blog is one of the more interesting ones that I've seen for a while; he offers guidance and extensive analysis in the area of pet tanking, with the Tenacity pet talent tree. From what he writes, Tenacity pets are substantially more capable than we may have initially anticipated. Apparently a Tenacity pet recently main tanked Gruul.

Since, as I have already written, Tenacity is likely to be my own primary tree of interest where the new pet talent system is concerned, I will likely be keeping a close eye on his site. It is recommended.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Survival pet synergy

On looking at a recent entry from Mama Druid a few minutes ago, I noticed she mentions respeccing her Hunter to Beast Mastery, because she felt there wasn't enough synergy with her pet. Pike also made a post about that issue earlier, as well.

I want to talk a bit about this, because I suspect that a rather unfortunate perception has arisen about Survival being (at least potentially) a no-pet-required tree. This topic is also going to go into my rationale for using Survival, more or less in general, since for me, a pet is still very much at the core of the class.

I've written before (at fairly great length, admittedly) about how I feel that Beast Mastery is an offensive spec, whereas Survival is primarily defensive. While that has changed to a degree with WoTLK, (due to Lock and Load, Explosive Shot, and Hunter VS Wild) Blizzard fortunately hasn't ripped the tree completely apart to the degree that I initially feared that they would, and aside from the change to EW, the fundamentals are still there.

That means that a Beast Master's focus is going to be, as Big Red Kitty has often stated, primarily on overwhelming damage. BM was the greatest of our three trees for that before WoTLK, and the word on the forum is that it's still no slouch on the damage meter these days, either. Because of that, a Beast Master is going to want a pet with a high damage output, (a Cat, a Ravager, a Raptor, or possibly still a Wind Serpent) to augment and maximise their own high base damage output.

Something else I also need to mention here is that for Beast Masters, threat isn't quite as much of an issue, I suspect, as it is for me. The reason for this, is that Beast Mastery does so much more damage, that even if they do pull threat, the mob will die more or less a split second after it leaves their pet anyway.

Because of this focus on high damage, Beast Mastery is very good for rapidly killing single (or smaller numbers of multiple) targets. Beast Mastery is also substantially more effective than Survival against caster classes, specifically, in PvP.

On the other hand, Survival's focus, as I said, is on defense. I get +10% Stamina from the Survivalist talent, and I also now get the equivalent of 30% of my Stamina as Attack Power, which, although that translates into damage, gives me an additional incentive to get items with more Stamina on them. With EW nerfed, Surv is also back to having the lowest direct damage output of any of the three trees, even with Hunter Vs Wild. If I spec for Explosive Shot and work very hard, I might just be able to scrape even with Marks, but I'd really have to work for it.

For the last several months, since the Charge nerf, I've had a Wind Serpent as a pet for general use. However, he's a DPS pet, so as Survival, I really don't feel the synergy with him, either. It's because his focus and intent is on DPS primarily, and mine isn't.

My focus isn't on being able to kill single targets as fast as possible, at the expense of threat, like Beast Mastery's is. My focus is on being able to survive an unplanned attack of 4-5 mobs, and kill each one sequentially, while not generating too much threat, so I don't get swamped by all of them at once.

Because of that, I'm a bit less like a Hunter in the exact same sense that Beast Mastery is, and a little more like a Paladin. I'm not an actual Paladin, no, and I wouldn't want to be entirely, (although I do have a Paladin alt, and I love that class as well) but a useful analogy might be to think of a Beast Mastery Hunter as also having some things in common with a Demonology Warlock, (because of the pet) whereas I have more in common with a Ret Paladin. (Remember my Dark Knight post?)

In order to avoid building up threat against a group like that, I have to perform a very delicate balancing act. I need enough damage to sequentially kill mobs reasonably quickly, before they kill the pet, because if the pet dies, I will follow, maybe 2-3 seconds after.

I can't do too much damage however, because if I do, I will pull more threat than the pet, to the point where even Feign Death won't work, and I will get swamped and die. I also need to make sure that my individual attacks don't cost too much mana to use, because if they do, I will run out of mana before the last mob is dead, and being out of mana will kill me before being out of health does; I can't kill a mob quickly with only autoshot.

In that sense, again, Survival is like Retribution. A Ret Paladin without mana is dead, and for me it is exactly the same. I have a lot more health than I do mana, but every ability I use relies on mana, and I have even less mana than a BM Hunter, because I need item space for Agility rather than Intellect. An empty mana pool means no ranged or melee specials; auto attack only. Even more importantly for me, it means no traps, Feign Death, or Mend Pet. I die far more often from running out of mana than I do from running directly out of health.

Paladins have things which I, as a Hunter, don't. They have plate armor, and they also have the (limited) ability to heal themselves. Hence, if Survival is going to be able to handle even small (4-5) groups of mobs, I'm going to need more health and armor than what I alone have. That's why I need a pet. I need a pet to boost my defensive capability, (health and armor) and to juggle threat with, to the exact same degree that a Beast Master needs a pet for damage. If I don't have my pet, against groups, I will die just as quickly as a Beast Master would.

DPS pets also generally have less health and armor as well, in exchange for their high DPS, so that causes me to feel that synergy even less.

Hence, for what I do, I don't want a pet that does a lot of damage, at the expense of less health and armor. I need a pet that is going to be able to take on a lot of mobs, one after the other, and stay alive (while I keep Mend Pet up, of course) for as long as possible.

So I need a pet that:-
a) Has a lot of health and armor.
b) Generates a lot of threat.
c) Preferably has an ability which allows them to get to a mob quickly, so it can begin attacking a mob the instant the mob hits my trap. This positioning is even more important in places where I don't have a lot of room, possibly because of other mobs. Sometimes I need to make sure a mob stays exactly where I want them, because if they're allowed to move around too much, or run away, I can get adds, which depending on the situation, (if it's more than half a dozen) can cause me to die.

If my pet does some damage, that's a bonus, but I'm not looking at it from the point of view of it being bonus damage, but bonus threat, which helps the pet keep the mob away from me.

That's the single most important thing to understand about my approach, in comparison to Pike's, and that of other Beast Masters.

Beast Mastery sees the world in terms of DPS, and wanting to maximise it. I, on the other hand, see the world in terms of threat, and wanting to minimise it, while still doing just enough damage to be able to kill mobs. Damage is actually a secondary priority, because of the fact that I understand that if I'm applying damage in the correct way, (burst for low armor, dots for high) the amount I need on a per-mob basis is generally minimal anyway.

Take a look at the image at the top of the page. ;-) My boar is in that picture, and I still have him. I'm going to spec into Tenacity with him and try it out, and now that we have more stable slots, I'm going to possibly get a Carrion Bird for AoE as well.

Boars, like me, get +10% to their health. Boars also have very high base armor. Boars also still get Charge in the Tenacity tree, (for holding a mob in place over the trap, even when Entrapment or TNT doesn't proc) and they also have another talent called Guard Dog which increases their threat, Blood of the Rhino, and Pet Barding, which add even more to their stamina and armor, respectively.

So in closing, I still do absolutely need pets. Beast Mastery uses a pet as an extension of its' role, which is damage output, and I use a pet as an extension of my role, which is defense. Granted, it might add a bit more direct synergy if Blizz were to add +5% or so directly to pet Stamina as part of the Survivalist talent, but I'm not too bothered if they don't.

Farming for 3.0.

One of my incoming referrals this morning, listed by feedburner, was from someone using WotLK farming as keywords on Google. So in the interests of giving the people what they want, I thought I'd write a post about that. These two specs, of course, are for farming only. Although I can't speak at all for raiding, a hybrid burst setup with TSA and Lock and Load will likely be wanted for 5 mans, (something on the order of this) and I use something very similar to that 5 man spec for battlegrounds myself as well.

At 70, this spec is what I would recommend for farming, at least where Survival is concerned.

Although I'm not entirely sure yet either, this is also what I suspect I will be aiming for at 80, as well.

This may at first seem a little counter-intuitive, so I will explain. This spec is built primarily around Improved/Noxious Stings, Hunter Vs. Wild, Trap Mastery, and Resourcefulness. The 80 spec also adds ToTH, Sniper Training, Readiness, and 2/3 Focused Aim. You generally won't need to be hit capped while farming, I don't think, but a little more hit never hurts. Note the inclusion of Survival Tactics in both specs, as well. When soloing instances in particular, trap and feign resists need to be minimised.

I will admit that in a farming build, I virtually never take Improved Tracking, and I generally never took the old Imp Slaying talents, either. Hawk Eye in my own mind is one of the single greatest Survival talents, and Savage Strikes for me has always been mandatory as well. I find that when my back is against a wall and I have something large and horrible bearing down on me, the 20% melee crit is of great value. It also has a use when I make the occasional raptor swipe at someone while kiting in PvP.

As utterly glorious as I still do find it for PvP, I also can't recommend Lock and Load for farming. The reason for that, quite simply, is threat. Three Arcane Shots with only the GCD between them generates ~1.5k, and that's assuming you don't crit. If a mob is dead after that, well and good, but if it is not, you're likely to have serious problems, especially against groups. That may not be a problem for doing dailies, but going into Ramparts with it, I suspect, would be suicidal.

I've already done numbers here for the extreme mana efficiency of using trapping and Serpent for farming in TBC. The damage:mana ratio back then was around 2.5-3:1. If anything, that ratio would now be even higher; I suspect edging past 4:1 or thereabouts, (with Glyph of Immolation Trap) since while Serpent's cumulative damage is up by 33% with the above build, the mana cost has remained constant.

I also strongly recommend obtaining the relevant glyphs, particularly the Glyph of Immolation Trap which boosts its' damage by 100%. This is a real boon for non-Survival users as well, since it far exceeds the 30% damage bonus offered by Trap Mastery. This might otherwise introduce the danger of making Immolation Trap almost a little bursty, which of course has bad threat implications, but the upside is that you can of course only use Immolation Trap against a single target anyway, so that won't be a problem.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Added Awlbiste's Thicket to my blogroll

I just realised a terrible oversight; Awlbiste's Thicket wasn't present on my blogroll. It now is. :)

Also, something else to mention, apparently Sisutar is back, and playing WoW. Her blog is still linked on my blogroll; please go and welcome her back, if you haven't already.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More of the story

(I know it's late, but here is a little more of the story I started earlier. I also know it breaks off in a slightly sudden place. I have another fight sequence planned, but I'm not sure where else to go after that, so I will need to think on it a bit more before updating again)

Chapter 4

After we'd woken, I told Nariyya that we would first be going to Shattrath. I needed some more ammunition, and porting was also much faster than travelling back and forth directly, which ordinarily would take days. The trip ordinarily would have taken us days from my customary home in the Charred Vale, but I knew an old Mage who lived in nearby Stonetalon, who could speed things up for us.

When we arrived in Stonetalon, after a few minutes I was able to find the Mage and ask him for a portal. He haggled playfully for a few moments as he always did, but then after handing him the usual few gold, he cast the portal spell and waved.

I turned to see Nariyya eyeing the portal a little nervously.

"Come on," I told her. "It's safe."

I went through, and she followed after.

I mentally admitted, during the few seconds of travel time, however, that it wasn't something I ever really got used to, myself. The portal took us through the Twisting Nether as a shortcut to different places, and although somehow we were protected, there were times when I could see the demons that lived there, and the red, chaotic environment that they inhabited. They were never up close, always in the distance, but at times it was still unnerving.

When we landed in Shat, I turned and asked Nariyya if she'd seen them. Apparently she had, because she was sitting on the ground and shivering, her face white. I didn't know what to tell her; I wanted to empathise, but at the same time, I realised that this was something she was going to have to get used to. I decided to go with telling her a story.

"I still see them, when I use portals at times.

It reminds me of when the Dark Portal initially re-opened, and I was first finding my feet in Outland. I was part of one of the early small, five man assaults on the ramparts of the Fel Orcs' fortress, barely a league up a wide, demon-infested dirt road from the Portal itself, and the chaotic, ramshackle beachhead that we and the Humans had been scrambling to set up. That was another funny thing; although it was never officially mentioned, the day the Portal re-opened was really the day when the war between us and the Humans ended, out of necessity. Not all of us liked it that way, but with the Burning Legion, we all had much bigger problems.

I didn't know the other members of the squad I was with, and in hindsight that was a mistake. It was a group that had been put together quickly. We were young and stupid; we didn't realise that although we'd seen it all on Azeroth, what was left of Draenor was a different nightmare entirely. The Fels were happy to bring us up to speed.

They slaughtered three of us inside the first five minutes, and I still don't completely understand how the other two of us made it out alive. It was the usual sort of mad scramble in such situations, with the other three reduced to smashed, shredded dog meat on hot stone, and the two of us left, running hard through a red haze for the stairs back down to the ground, the stench of entrails and tainted Orc blood that strong in our nostrils that it was a wonder we were able to breathe.

I didn't go back to Outland for a while after that. I returned to Azeroth and trained hard for close to six months, spending a heap on gear as well. When I went back to the Peninsula, I was able to hold my own, though barely at first.

However, lesson learned. Never underestimate the enemy, and never overestimate yourself."

Nariyya stood, calmer now, and nodded. I put a hand on her shoulder.

"It gets a bit easier, with time. You'll still see things that mess with your head, but we find ways to cope. Other than when we're hunting animals, the different types of sentient prey start to blend together until it's all the same, in the end. Different strats, different internals, and different politics maybe; but those are details."

Nariyya looked around. We'd landed in the central chamber of the city. It was a big place, with the Naaru leader, A'dal, floating above us in the centre.

The Naaru were a race of acorporeals who'd arrived in Outland a while back, and had helped the Draenei evac from Argus, after most of the latter race got recruited by the Legion. The Naaru were alledgedly the light to the Legion's darkness, but privately, I didn't trust them; hadn't from the moment they first showed up. I'd seen too many people get killed from taking supposed beings of light at face value, to make that mistake.

Then when we got word not long ago that one of them, M'uru, had gone rogue, I'd mentally said, "I told you so," to nobody in particular. If anything about that incident had surprised me, it had actually been that they'd taken so long to reveal their less socially acceptable side.

Still, I had to grudgingly admit that they had done some genuine good. The reconstruction of Quel'Danas was ahead of schedule, and had been proceeding very smoothly, and Lower City had also become a haven for refugees from throughout both of the two worlds, under Ad'al's watch.

Besides, I'd lived fairly intimately with the idea that no one was perfect. If the Naaru were able to help us get rid of the Legion now, that was fine. If they in turn needed to be disposed of, later on down the road, we'd cross that bridge when we came to it.

I led Nariyya over to a specialist arrow vendor, not far from the landing site for my hearthstone, and told her to get her stone set for there as well. My decision to ally with the Scryers had been purely practical; some of the stuff they offered was what I wanted. I assumed the Draenei wouldn't like me much anyway, being an Orc, so I wasn't losing much there either way.

After we'd finished buying arrows and a few other things, I went looking for another Mage. This time, we needed a portal to Stonard, the settlement near the ruins I was planning to take Nariyya to, for some more serious practice.

Chapter 5

Landing in Stonard, I always found the change in temperature jarring. This area was a green, dense swamp; hot and humid. It was Dire Troll country, with dragonkin, crocs, and Murlocs on the coasts, and other, worse things swimming deep in the warm, brown water.

Mounting up, I told Nariyya to do the same, and we rode to the coast of the large, central lake at the center of the zone.

On reaching it, Nariyya pointed to the upper part of a ruined stone ziggurat. The rest had sunk; it was the only part that was visible above the waterline.

"Is that where we're going?"

"Yes," I answered her. "Truthfully, I've been to more dangerous places, but it will be fine for our purposes today. I've been able to make money stripping the corpses of the Trolls that inhabit this place, as well. It turns out that tailors are able to salvage the cloth."

We swam over to the entrance, and as we were making our way down the stairs, my tone with her became more serious.

"When I told you that we are hated by those of other paths, it is primarily because they are unable to clearly identify what our purpose as a Hunter is. This is because, in truth, we borrow elements from all of the others, and combine them together. You will see me doing this before we've finished today, and perhaps, you will have begun to do it yourself."

We swam through the half-flooded first room, and stood in the second. I pointed to some of the green stone that the temple was built of.

"When you look around this place, how do you feel?" I asked Nariyya. "Don't try to analyse or rationalise your answer. Tell me the first thing that comes into your mind."

Nariyya paused for a moment, reflecting. "It is very old."

She shuddered. "It is also a little frightening."

I steadied her with a hand on her shoulder. "We're safe here. I want you to try something else, though. Close your eyes, and this time, try to imagine that rather than being solid, your body is made of smoke. Now, in your imagination, move your smoke body inside the wall in front of us. Slowly become part of that wall with your smoke body, and as you do, imagine that you can feel all along the walls of the temple, in the same way that you can normally feel your arms and legs."

Nariyya took a few deep breaths, then closed her eyes, and began to focus. After a few seconds, she grimaced, opened her eyes, and spoke in a loud, shocked whisper.

"By Elune! I could actually feel the creatures that live here!"

"Yes," I smiled at her. "Creatures leave tracks that we can see with our eyes, of course, and that can be valuable as well. On a stone floor, however, that can be difficult. Later on, you'll find that this ability becomes like another sense, and is available to you all the time. This is one of the abilities that we borrow from the Shaman. You can talk to them when we get back to Shattrath, as some of them come to the Hunters' Guild to teach us the small amount that we learn from their path."

Her eyes shone in awe, and we continued walking.

"What was the purpose of this place?" Nariyya asked me as we walked.

"It is a temple of Hakkar, a God who the Trolls worshipped, long ago," I answered her. "Hakkar originally had a body, here in our world, but the Trolls eventually realised his true nature, and most of them turned against him, forcing his spirit to flee. Those who remained loyal to him fled from the Troll homeland in Lordaeron, and eventually built this temple, where they planned to resurrect him.

When Ysera, one of the great Dragons, discovered the temple, she caused it to sink in order to try and stop them. She failed, however, and the Trolls still make occasional attempts to revive Hakkar. I was in an expedition that stopped them, once."

I paused, reflecting. "At the time, that was a very challenging fight for me. I was younger, then."

"Are we going to stop them again ourselves?" Nariyya asked me.

"No," I answered her. "We're going to stick to the upper levels only, today. The high priests are at the very bottom. If we do that, they will not know we are here."

After that point, we began encountering some of the temple's inhabitants. The first several fights were minor, with the Trolls in groups of two or three. The boar typically killed one of them, with Nariyya shooting the other, and me killing the third.

Eventually we came to another staircase where I stopped, closing my eyes and reaching out mentally in the way I'd taught Nariyya earlier. I could sense five figures about to come down the stairs; three Trolls, and two of the small imps they kept as slaves.

When I opened my eyes, Nariyya had moved to one side of the staircase, and crouched down.

"You sensed them too, then?" I whispered to her. She nodded.

"Time to show you another trick," I whispered to her. Kneeling down and reaching quietly into my pack, I took out a handful of small metal sheets and screws, quickly assembled a trap, and lightly poured a small amount of water on the trigger. I then closed my eyes again, but with a different purpose this time.

I visualised the snowy mountains of Alterac, and one of the great ice elementals who lived there. Kneeling before him, I asked for his aid. He consented, and I heard Nariyya gasp as my breath turned to mist for a moment, and the water I had offered the elemental froze solid.

Opening my eyes, I saw the Trolls beginning to walk down the stairs. Pulling a small, dull dagger from a supply of them in my backpack, I threw it at one of them, and then jumped back as they ran towards me. A second one stepped on the trap, and an ice slick began to rapidly cover the stairs, slowing the second and third Trolls' approach.

I asked the boar to attack the two imps, and he gathered them together, biting first one of them, and then the other.

The Troll that had run at me was a female, and had a large sword. The other two were male and female magic users, and they crouched further back, while black and green mist began to form around their hands. Jumping over to stand next to the boar, I also managed to slash one of the warrior Troll's ankles with my axe, causing her to limp as she continued to try and reach me. Narrowing my eyes in concentration for a few seconds, I then fired three arrows in rapid succession, directly into the female Troll's forehead. She slumped to the ground at my feet.

That just left the two spell casters. One of them had built up a bolt of shadow energy, which he threw at me, and I was able to dodge. To prevent him from casting again, I fired back with a green-tipped arrow that had a feather tied to it, and Nariyya noticed that, when it hit the Troll, he rapidly began to lean over towards the ground, and appeared to have difficulty breathing. Nocking up another two arrows at once, I fired again, catching both of the Trolls in the throat. They fell to the ground, gurgling.

Once that group was dead, I turned to the boar. Concentrating again, the aura around my hands began to glow green, and I placed them on the boar's back. Nariyya watched as the green energy washed over him, and the small cuts and wounds he had taken from the imps rapidly began to close. After I had stripped the imps' corpses, I pointed the boar to them, and Nariyya turned away as he began enthusiastically devouring them, first one and then the other.

"Sorry," I grinned at her. "He likes his meat fresh. I also probably shouldn't tell you this, but when you and I first met, I initially had to restrain him a little. I've known him to go into a frenzy when we go to Ashenvale. He really loves Night Elves, probably more than anything else. That's why I thought you were brave to come looking for me, because although I restrain it of course, truthfully I have something of a weakness for their blood, myself."

Nariyya's eyes widened, and she started backing away.

"Don't worry," I reassured her. "If I was going to, I already would have."

She stopped backing away, but I could tell that she was still nervous.

"Nariyya, I'm serious," I said to her. "Although it's true that a fight between me and another of the Kel'dorei probably isn't something you're going to want to watch, the ability to identify other members of your own pack is vital, and the boar and I both have that. Besides, you must have already known that relations between my people and the Night Elves aren't all that great in general, yes?"

She nodded, slowly. "Yes, I did know that. Truthfully, I also didn't spend a lot of time around the rest of them anyway; we didn't like each other very much."

I grinned again. "I could have guessed that. As I've said to you before, others never appreciate us. That is why, even more than those of other paths, when it comes to our own, Hunters look beyond race. We have had to draw together, because often, others of our own path are the only company we have."

Pulling out my main knife, I then gestured Nariyya over to help me, as I began stripping the Trolls's corpses of their robes, for the cloth, and checking them for coins and other items.

"Although there will be times where it happens unavoidably, ideally you never want your targets to get within melee range of you," I told her. "That is especially true in the case of Trolls, as they are larger and stronger than you, and the Dire Trolls we will face here later are even moreso. We use traps and our pet to keep the prey away from us, as you saw here, and our bow to deliver the kill."

"What was on that feathered arrow I saw you use?" She asked me.

"It's a poison that the Darkspears taught us how to make," I answered her. "They, in turn, were taught by their cousins in Stranglethorn Vale, long ago. In the Armani tongue, it is called Coorari. It incapacitates a target by causing chronic relaxation of the muscles, which initially causes paralysis, but eventually suffocation. The Troll I shot with it probably would have eventually suffocated anyway, but I wanted to be sure."

"That, however, actually leads to another critical lesson," I looked at her very earnestly now. "In a place like this at least, never, ever, leave anything living behind you. I made that mistake a couple of times early on. Never again. Whenever you have shot something, always check it afterwards, and do not move onto a new area until you are certain that everything in your current vicinity is dead. This is because sometimes, you will be overwhelmed and will need to fall back, and you will want a secure area when you do. It can sometimes help to pay attention to doors, stairways, or other narrow passages that you can use as chokepoints if you are being chased by a crowd. If you can force your attackers to come through it single, or double file at most, trap it, and use your pet as well, you will be surprised at the numbers you can cut through and still survive."

She nodded.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another 24 hour forum ban

Given the encouragement from Awlbiste in response to my last post, I decided to offer a little more of that darkness she mentioned. ;-)

I just got a 24 hour temp ban from the forums. I got it for starting a thread in support of Ret Paladins, saying that I didn't feel the DS nerf was necessary. I got banned because the specific name of the thread was, "DS isn't unbeatable if you don't f$%^ing suck," and yes, I included the typographic figleaf myself. It wasn't automatically generated. If you're interested, here is the content of that rant.


The single main reason why I've spoken out against the DS nerf in this forum is because apart from anything else, it's unnecessary.

I admit; I don't play the Arena, but in AB over the last few days, my experiences with Paladins with DS has been a fairly even exchange. They killed me a few times, I killed them a few times. It was fairly even, and the reason why is because, contrary to what the trolls and idiots who look purely at my Arena rating will say, I [i]don't[/i] completely suck.

Ret is a melee class. Of the few types of ranged attacks it has, some of them are openers which can't be used more than once in a fight, and the rest are short ranged, which means if I know how to kite worth a crap, I'm fine.

As some people here have said, as Survival, I've got a new hard burst skill now; Explosive Shot. If I put a trap down and a Paladin walks into it, that means I can have 2-3k direct ranged damage done to him, a 1400 point dot, and a 1k or so dot on him before he is in melee range of me, and that's before I've even started kiting.

The point is, a Paladin is only going to kill me with Divine Storm if a) I don't see him coming, and b) I don't see him coming before he is already in melee range. Granted, in spammy scrum fights that can happen, but it doesn't happen more than 50% of the time, tops. Most of the Alliance Rets I was fighting still waited for Warrior or Rogue backup because even with their new toy, they were fairly obviously scared of engaging me one on one. I don't say that as an insult; given how bad Ret has been since release it's entirely understandable that you'd still feel uncertain.

I'd honestly like to know which classes were crying about this that much that got it removed. I'm guessing most of it came from the Priests, Rogues, and Druids. Rogues because as far as they are concerned, no other class in the game is allowed to win fights against them no matter what.

Rogues do not now, have never in the past, and will never in the future have any right whatsoever to call anyone else in this game OP. They are Blizzard's sole, perpetual favourite; they have been since at least the release of TBC, and probably before. The Rogue gets buffed consistently, irrespective of what happens to anyone else.

Dismantle. Shadowstep. Kidney Shot, Cheap Shot, Blind, Crippling Poison, Vanish, and Cloak of Shadows. Yet many Rogues still have trouble beating people a lot of the time, and the one thing they cannot tolerate, more than anything else, is the idea that anyone...ANYONE...might have any kind of legitimate counter against them. As far as they are concerned, the other eight classes are all to be free kills for them, no questions asked.

Some of you might remember the amount of Druid crying that went on about Scare Beast, with us, and how Blizz listened to it. Druids don't focus on how sickeningly OP Resto is, and how the entire rest of the playerbase hates them because of it. No; they're always the pure innocent victims.

And Priests; here's a hint. The reason why you're as squishy as you are is because you're a specialist healer; arguably still the greatest in the game, despite the amount of crying you do to the contrary. Do you expect to be a specialist healer AND have Godlike offense as well?

So in conclusion, the rest of you, get off Ret's case. Ret SHOULD be allowed to keep DS, and if people can't counter it, maybe they're not as good at this game as they think they are.

I've broken 90 subscribers

According to feedburner, readership for the Lair hit 91 subscribers on Wednesday, which is a new milestone for me. It's a little paradoxical as well, because my rating on Technorati continues to drop like a rock...I'm not sure how that works.

Anyway, my thanks to all of you who helped make that happen, and who stick with me, despite the fact that I know I'm not always the proverbial being of sweetness and light.

The song is true, you know. It's not easy, being green. ;-)

I was wrong, and I'm sorry.

I've actually gone back and done some more testing with the 0/10/51 spec.

The reason why is because I noticed that my RAP, with 0/10/51, was as high as it had been with 0/43/17, pre-3.0. This made me think that an Explosive Shot/LL build genuinely was viable; I simply had to work out how to incorporate ES tactically. I also, of course, was upset about the idea of having to leave Survival more or less permanently, which, at least in PvP terms, I had thought that I would have to do, if WoTLK didn't improve things.

My findings made me realise that more or less everything I said about Explosive Shot and Lock and Load in my last post was incorrect. I will admit that most of what I wrote in that post was primarily based on listening to crying in the forum, (which I should of course never do) and not on real testing of my own, so much.

These two talents actually fit in with my customary practice of dotting and kiting (in battleground PvP) exceptionally well, and allow me to kill a target far more rapidly than I had been able to in the past.

For doing dailies on the island, I found the 0/10/51 spec to be very good as well. As I had anticipated, threat can be a minor problem, especially considering that I don't have Go For The Throat, but I find that if I get a Lock and Load proc from trapping every time, mobs usually die before they get to me.

I will say that, while I still always put points in Savage Strikes, I am not melee at all any more, other than for kiting. It's been probably at least a year since I've put points in Deflection or Counterattack, also. Although I used to use those things, I find that these days the other people I'm fighting simply have too much armor for extended melee to be viable.

My opinion on Survival's ability for levelling has changed, as well. Although I still see Hawk Eye and Savage Strikes as being very important, any future alts I make will get 5/5 Improved Tracking from level 15, as well. Hunter Vs. Wild can also be obtained at level 25. I am also going to get Hunter Vs. Wild and Noxious Stings pretty much every time I use a deep Survival spec now, as well.

This is the result of probably my best AB match yesterday, with the 0/10/51 spec. You can see the Explosive Shot icon in the screenshot. This indicates what I'm finding, that while it is possible to still make the top (or close to the top) of the damage or killing blow chart in AB, unlike with Marks, with this build I have to work very hard to get it. I don't mind that so much though, because truthfully I was actually getting a little bored with Marksmanship before the patch, because with it I could get top 3 in my sleep. I like it that Survival is more difficult, because it means I have to become a better Hunter.

I don't have the problems with Ret Paladins that other people seem to, either. It's true that if they start first, they will kill me in two or three hits, but I was still able to narrowly kill a couple of them one on one, and I actually noticed that they were more likely to wait for backup than to try and kill me on their own. That implied to me that some of them still weren't feeling very confident, despite having the new level of ability.

Dismantle with Rogues isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, either. Again, I've been killed by it a couple of times, but I'm noticing that it seems to make them complacent as well; they seem to rely on it as an "I win," button and haven't been using their other abilities against me as much, like Shadowstep or Blind.

I'm also able to wait until Dismantle times out sometimes as well, if I trinket, trap them, and then run away.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some new specs

So on logging in earlier, I spent my first respec in an admittedly silly manner.

The point of this was purely to try out Explosive Shot, with Lock and Load along with it.

After using this for probably half a dozen matches, (probably around four hours) I rapidly reached the conclusion that for Arathi Basin at least, comparitively speaking anyway, Explosive Shot is more or less entirely worthless, as is Lock and Load; especially given the way the latter procs. Given that, it's extremely unlikely that I will be putting points in either of those two talents for any purpose any time soon. ~300 damage + 8% RAP is frankly terrible for a burst shot.

I can't see ES replacing Arcane Shot for raiding either. The two main 10 man possibilities for Surv that come to mind, would either be a Serpent Sting build, ( Imp Stings + Noxious, for +33% total to Serpent) or ToTH/Hunting Party. (

Although my current live build is a little uneven, for AB I'm likely to stick with something like
for the time being. Nothing flashy, but 3/3 Careful Aim, 4/5 Imp Tracking, 3/3 Hunter Vs. Wild, 3/3 Imp Stings, both Barrages, and 5/5 RWS for some solid DPS. For levelling to 80 and endgame farming once I get there, my own preference is likely to be something along the lines of the Serpent build linked above.

Apparently Kill Shot is the new Aimed, and considering that I can't get that until 71, I'm likely to struggle in AB until then, as well.

Staples for me now are likely to be:-

- Hunter Vs. Wild. As far as damage is concerned, IMHO this talent is the single major improvement Survival will see from the release of WoTLK. We badly needed more base RAP, and because it's a buff to RAP rather than %crit, it doesn't interfere as much when I'm trying to keep my threat low when soloing as well.

- Surefooted. Blizz might have moved the 3% hit to Marks, but 30% resist to movement impairing effects is nothing to sneeze at, and in PvP, without BW it's our only saving grace.

- Focused Aim. Blizz obviously moved the 3% hit here because they wanted BM people to be able to get it as well, and although not quite as good, the pushback reduction only sweetens the deal. There's no real reason not to get this.

- Go For The Throat. Given that Survival doesn't get any other buff to pet Focus regen, for us it's essential, but my temporary BM respecs will most likely include this as well.

- Imp Stings. +30% extra damage to Serpent Sting, which means more damage over time. This means more gradual, threat-managed damage for solo PvE, and more help/chance of overcoming Resilience while kiting in PvP. What's not to love? If you're going Surv, get it.

- Readiness. Considering how weird our shot cooldowns are now, Readiness is likely to see a lot more use by me than it used to, mainly so that I can use Aimed and Multi Shot in rapid succession. Of course, that was something I could do pre-WoTLK anywayz without needing Readiness, but come on now...have we ever expected rationality from Blizzard? ;-)

- Trueshot Aura. The age of EW is over, sadly.

Things I consider junk:-

- Lock and Load. The proc triggers are silly, I'd only use it for Arcane anyway, and then only in PvP.

- T.N.T. Another stun, with less duration and a lower proc rate than Entrapment, but more talent points required. +9% crit to ES might be good if you're getting it, but you're unlikely to crit with ES for more than 800 or so anywayz. The dev team can have a free tarring and feathering each from me for this one. ;-)

- Sniper Training. PvP only, since the only shot that would use it for me outside PvP would be Steady.

- Point of No Escape. The only place I can see this being used is the Arena. In battlegrounds I generally use Immolation Trap for kiting before Frost, and in solo PvE, more crit is not something I want, due to threat issues. This talent is also in a bad position on the tree, for what it does.

- Expose Weakness. TSA + both Barrages + 5/5 RWS is nearly always going to do more damage than the self-buffing EW, and that goes double for anyone below 600 base Agility. Rest in peace, EW. It was great fun while it lasted.

- Explosive Shot. As mentioned above, this shot's damage is simply terrible, and it being a 51 pointer just makes it worse. Buff this shot's damage, Blizz, and I might consider using it...but before then, no thanks. This was a real disappointment as well, since I was looking forward to destroying people in AB with ES.

EDIT:- I've been reading some numbers on the forum which are causing me to think that with better gear, ES is likely to be a lot better than it is now; especially at 80.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The end, or a new beginning?

So today is the last day with the old talent trees. Tomorrow patch 3.0.2 is installed, and we will be getting the new ones.

Oddly, when I was in the game a few minutes ago, I felt numb. I was originally going to log in and play some AB, but for some reason I just logged in, looked around for a few moments, and then logged out again.

We will see how things are then.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One good link deserves another

I just discovered I had a blogroll link from Boozsha, although truthfully I have already visited his blog before, as well. So I've given him a link in my own blogroll, as well.

Boozsha is a fellow Hunter who often writes thoughtful postings about his activities in WoW, from what I have seen. He has expressed a fair degree of humility regarding his level of ability within the game as well, which is always welcome, and will give you a positive change from my own usual narcissistic bluster. ;-)

So if you're not already reading his blog as well, go and check it out.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

WotLK spec: The Bare Necessities

So on looking at Pike's post where she mentioned temporarily respeccing Survival, I hit the link to the spec she'd put together and did some playing around with it.

This is what I came up with, for somewhat general use. Nothing too flashy, but a couple of good solid damage buffs, and all the usual essential stuff which I tend to want.

The Lair's Wordle

So after reading about Rilgon punching his blog address into Wordle, I decided to go and do the same. was the result. Not exactly what I was expecting. ;-)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Arathi Basin becoming frustrating

I logged in last night for only the third time in nearly two weeks, and played some Arathi Basin. The Horde didn't win a single game.

Sometimes I wonder why the majority of people in Horde teams in my battlegroup even bother going in there, although to be fair, they did put up a very good effort in at least one game. The Alliance in Bloodlust can be very, very difficult, and AB seems to be the weakest battleground for the Horde at the best of times.

Although as it turns out, we can still do ok every now and then. This was from another match earlier in the last fortnight. Deep Marks is definitely the spec for me until 3.0 though, I think.

The Conqueror title is also still a way off, yet...but I'll get there. Even if I never raid again anywhere, Conq is probably the single main thing I want to accomplish with this character now, so I'm going to hope that the title will still be available in WoTLK.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some semblance of sanity

After doing some thinking, this is what I would tentatively use as a farming spec with the current trees (if they stay as-is) for WoTLK. My earlier pessimism aside, at 80 this would actually be a fairly major improvement over the existing usual 0/21/40 Surv build.

Although I haven't gone into that here, it'd also be possible to put together a very nice burst PvP spec with Sniper Training/Explosive Trap, as well, and HvW would be even more of a boon for us there than it will be for PvE.

- For one thing, the damage is going to be substantially higher. 3/3 Careful Aim, 3/3 Hunter vs. Wild, 3/3 Imp Stings, 3/3 Noxious Stings, (+33% to Serpent total) 3/3 Barrage, 3/5 RWS. Sacrificing Barrage and RWS would be necessary for a Hunting Party build, however I'd generally only be using HP in groups; however, considering that it has been nerfed into the ground, I'm not sure I'd bother with it even then at this point.

- Hunter vs. Wild is also probably the single most impressive addition to the tree that we've got. +30% of Stamina as AP means we finally have a real incentive to stack Stamina. Contrary to what some were claiming, 10% Stamina rather than Health from Survivalist is also a buff, not a nerf, because it synergises with this.

- For another thing, for me anyway, Scatter and Readiness are both now standard, rather than being optional extras which I formerly needed to sacrifice something else important in order to get. Double Scatter traps, double Wyvern Sting.

- In a rare flash of common sense, one of the retarded chimpanzees among the current dev team apparently decided to re-add the 30% duration buff to Freezing Trap, in Trap Mastery, hence removing one of my major sources of depression where WoTLK was concerned. I would be grateful, and I suppose I should be because at least it means I haven't lost it permanently, but I'm still somewhat angry about the fact that it was ever even temporarily removed in the first place.

Now, the downsides:-

- Lock and Load. extra burst threat generator. Appealing...NOT! This talent is an aggro generating abomination which should not be in the Survival tree at all. For groups it might be fine, assuming the tank has already got good threat of course, but for soloing it's beyond bad. Blizzard, put this talent in Marksmanship where it belongs, or better yet, delete it entirely. Even with Marks, poor Rilgon still needs to pay some attention to his threat. ;-)

- TNT. Nice idea, but at 9%, the proc rate is somewhere between the proverbial infinitesimal and, "forget it." Entrapment is still at 25%, so it gets the points.

- Surefooted's hit reduction has been removed. You really do love letting the nerf bat swing, don't you, Blizzard?

- With Trap Mastery at 41 points, pre-60 levelling with Survival is officially dead. Dumb move, Blizzard. Trap Mastery is needed far more during levelling than it is at end game. You should make it a 5 point talent, not 41 point.

- Point of No Escape; No thanks. Another aggro generator which sounds good in theory, but isn't. When I'm frost kiting groups on my own, I need to keep burst threat at an absolute bare minimum.

- Explosive Shot; Nerfed to hell, but I still don't want that for soloing. I might get it for a 5 man, but even there, with Survival's customary level of base crit, keeping my threat below the tank's is generally hard enough as it is.