Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What's Survival's Rhythm?

This is in response to Pike's most recent post, Don't Panic.

In that post, she mentions temporarily respeccing Survival and not being able to identify the rhythm of Surv's shot rotation.

In answering this, I'm going to confess to having done something recently which many will consider objectionable. Before you panic, however, understand that I'm not advocating doing this for raiding, but that it is going to be relevant to my answer to Pike, even where raiding is concerned, and I will explain why.

I don't raid at all at the moment, or even run Heroics much, but for soloing my dailies (and other farming as I continue to work towards saving for epic flight) I recently respecced out of Explosive Shot and Lock and Load.

The reason why is that Explosive Shot, in its' current state, is overpowered for soloing as Survival. There were a couple of times while doing the dailies at Onslaught Harbour where, when using ES, unless I exclusively used a Gorilla, I would die if I ended up with a group of 4-5 adds, because it made my threat completely uncontrollable with either a Ferocity or Tenacity pet, and mobs were on me constantly.

So now I'm back to the tactics I was using during TBC, where I lean very heavily on Serpent Sting, Immolation Trap, and pure autoshot after that, and sometimes Frost Trap for groups.

With groups, after putting Frost Trap down, if I keep Mend Pet up and micromanage Growl on each target, I can go through half a dozen mobs at once, or a dozen single targets in sequence, without drinking or using Viper.

My point, Pike, is that even with ES in a raid/Heroic, Survival's rhythm isn't about a set sequence of around half a dozen different movements, but rather about individual sets of stimulus-response pairs. My emphasis isn't on proactively attacking a target in the same sense as Beast Mastery's is, but rather on reactively making use of rapid instinct/intuition to respond either to the target's attacks, or spell-related events.

I don't know if you've ever done sed scripting in Linux, Pike, or dynamic raw Internet protocol transactions, (mail, http, or ftp, where you're not using a preprogrammed client, but rather a pure telnet/socket connection and the commands straight from the RFC/protocol description) but a very similar principle is involved. We have to use intuition in order to be able to react very rapidly on our feet, to conditions as they occur. That is also why the meditative state helps; when you go into it, from your perspective, your reaction time isn't actually fast at all. It's very slow.

Serpent Sting wears off, I put it back up. L&L procs, I change my rotation to fire ES 3 times. My traps come off CD, I use Freezing Arrow to give me another L&L proc on a target in an instance. Think of a pair of metronome ticks.

Watch this video on YouTube, for the classic example of what I'm talking about here. You will notice that Neo is depicted as being in a detached/meditative state, and a couple of times when speaking to Rakan, (another Survival Hunter) he also spoke of entering this state when playing Surv as well, particularly while in the Arena. Alumatine was very good at entering the flow state as well.

Notice also that with one exception, Neo's tactics are exclusively defensive in nature. Pike in particular has heard me compare Survival with the Soresu lightsaber form from Star Wars, as well.

For instancing or raiding, that means getting into intuitive sync with each of your procs on an individual basis, and responding to them as they occur. I don't ideally focus on the damage meter with Surv in Heroics. My focus instead is shared between my procs, my threat meter, sometimes my trap cooldowns, and whether our healer or anyone else has adds. As Mynithrosil once said, Survival ideally leaves damage to the DPS classes. ;P

For soloing, it means we use our higher hit points, and the fact that our lower damage (without ES at least) will not cause our threat to become uncontrollable. I can keep four mobs at once on my boar, and kill them sequentially, one by one if I'm not excessively hasty about spamming damage.

When I'm really playing the way I enjoy, Survival is a form of relaxation for me. I go to Onslaught Harbour, or sometimes the Sunken Temple, and (semi)meditate.

It is also, when used in that manner, application of force in exactly the way that the Tao Te Ching describes. Very gentle, very slow...and utterly invincible.

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