Thursday, April 30, 2009

We're moving!

I do love Blogger, but for my purposes I've found Wordpress to be superior.

So Stayin' Frosty is moving! Visit at!

6/14/51, 2/18/51, 0/15/56, Oh My!

Hunter talent specs have been changing wildly since Wrath came out. After the first few months of absolute dominance by Beast Mastery, we were handed massive Survival buffs (and BM nerfs) in 3.0.8, which effectively forced raiding Hunters to go Survival, and led to the dominance of a single spec: 6/14/51.

To the lay person, that spec may not make much sense. Six points in Beast Mastery? One point in Focused Fire? What, one might ask, makes that point worth sacrificing MM talents for? The answer is less than obvious. Let's take a look at the description of Focused Fire.

Focused Fire
All damage caused by you is increased by 1/2% while your pet is active and the critical strike chance of your pet's special abilities is increased by 10/20% while Kill Command is active.

1% extra damage is nice, but the crucial thing here is the last part of that description - "...and the critical strike chance of your pet's special abilities is increased by 10/20% while Kill Command is active."

Remember pre-3.0.8, when every raiding Hunter had a Cat or Scorpid? After 3.0.8, many savvy Hunters switched to Raptors, thanks to the Raptor's newly powerful ability, Savage Rend.

Savage Rend
5 yd range
25 Focus
Slashes the enemy with the raptor's talons for X damage, and causes the target to bleed for Y damage every 5 sec for 15 sec. Successful critical strikes with this ability temporarily boost the raptor's attack power.

Not only can Savage Rend crit, increasing the damage of the ability, when it does crit, the Raptor's attack power goes up. But it's on a one-minute cooldown... Just like Kill Command.

Aha. Synergy revealed. 10% extra crit on Kill Command equals 10% extra crit on Savage Rend equals 10% extra chance for your Raptor's Attack Power to jump up temporarily. And that was enough of a difference, combined with the small boost from Improved Aspect of the Hawk, to put 6/14/51 in the lead from 3.0.8 all the way to 3.1.

The problem with 6/14/51 was that, well, you needed a Raptor! And I am much too lazy to level a Raptor with which to raid - my stabled Raptor is only 78 to this day. So, thanks to laziness and the fact that we were never in any danger whatsoever of missing enrage timers, I ran 2/18/51 from 3.0.8 to 3.1. Improved Stings and Glyph of the Hawk together kept me within about 1% of the theoretical ceiling of 6/14/51; more than close enough.

But all of that is old news. 3.1 is out, we're in Ulduar, and Hunter specs have changed once again.

Many Hunters tried to stick with 6/14/51, but there's a new sheriff in town... And they call him The Wolf.

Before 3.1, Furious Howl didn't stack with Battle Shout or Blessing of Might. No self-respecting raid group would be missing both of those buffs, and so Wolves lacked any real usefulness.

Now, though, Furious Howl is something different entirely. It no longer applies to the entire raid, but it does stack with BoM and Battle Shout.

And thus was The Wolf made king of the raiding Hunter pets.

No Savage Rend means that Focused Fire is lackluster again, and the stupendous amount of Haste most Hunters now have on their gear makes Improved Aspect of the Hawk less and less attractive.

Several 3.1 specs suggest themselves - I personally chose a 0/15/56 spec.

Zero points in BM
The soft Haste cap for Hunters, the number at which Steady Shot falls below 1.5 seconds, is 390 Haste. I currently have precisely 390 Haste; in a raid environment Improved Aspect of the Hawk never affects anything but Auto Shot, which constitutes a relatively small percentage of my damage.

Fifteen points in MM
Lethal Shots, Mortal Shots, and Careful Aim are effectively mandatory talents for raiding Hunters. I also picked up 1/2 Go for the Throat to pour focus into my pet, and Aimed Shot to increase the number of on-the-run shots I have available, and because it's a significantly superior shot versus Multi-Shot, which would otherwise fill the same spot in my rotation.

And 56 points in Surv
Many of the points in Survival are self-explanatory. Improved Tracking provides 5% damage nearly all the time, Survival Instincts provides 4% crit on your most important shots. These choices ought to be obvious.

There are some new choices in Survival, however. No longer do Survival Hunters get to (have to?) spec into Hawk Eye to get to Tier 3 talents - the new Trap Mastery increases the damage done by Black Arrow by 30%. Considering that Black Arrow does a ton of damage, this is absolutely a worthwhile talent.

Later in the tree, we have Resourcefulness, which reduces the cooldown of your traps and Black Arrow by 6 seconds. Would I like to have Black Arrow up 6 seconds sooner? Why yes, I would! 3/3 Resourcefulness.

At this point in the tree, Tier 7, some real choices come up. First we must decide how many points to put into Expose Weakness - do we go 3/3 to give our crits a 100% chance to apply the effect, drop to 2/3 since we elite Hunters are all critting about 50% of the time (and much more often with Explosive Shot!) or be daring and drop all the way to 1/3? For me, near-100% uptime is achieved with 2/3 points in the talent, so I've stuck with 2 for the moment. 1/3 is definitely a possibility for the future.

After deciding on Expose Weakness, I chose Wyvern Sting for two reasons. One, to get to Noxious Stings for 3% bonus to all damage when Serpent Sting is up. Two, to get Wyvern Sting! Wyvern Sting is no joke anymore - it sleeps an enemy target for 30 seconds - that's real CC! Would it be worth taking if there was a better DPS talent? Perhaps not. But since it's there, and gives us Noxious Stings, we might as well be happy to have it.

In Tier 9, we have Sniper Training and Black Arrow. Both of these talents bring us new and interesting mechanics - Sniper Training is the only ability in the game that requires the player to stand still long enough to gain a buff. Is that problematic? Sometimes. But trust me when I say you should be happy for Sniper Training. It buffs your most important shots by 6% on all but the most mobile fights, and the buff is surprisingly easy to maintain. When you acquire the buff, it's a 15-second buff. This means that if you begin to move at the beginning of the buff, you have 8 seconds of totally free movement with no danger of losing the buff.

Black Arrow, the brand-new attempt by Blizzard to balance PvP and PvE DPS (yes, Blizz, we're on to you) boosts your damage dealt to the target to which it is applied by 6% for the duration. When you stack Black Arrow with Noxious Stings, Improved Tracking, and Sniper Training, your special shots will be striking the target with added damage of 6%, 3%, 5%, and 6% - over 121% damage.

So are we taking Black Arrow? Yes, yes we are indeed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So where were we...

Oh yes. Hunter theorycraft.

Alright, let's start where we stand.

I am, for those of you who didn't read this blog during its previous publishing lifetime, Shabula. I'm a Troll Hunter on Smolderthorn-PvP, and I <3 raiding. It's what I do well. Do I also PvP? Perhaps. But I don't claim to be good at it. In fact, I think it's safe to say I'm quite bad at it.

But I digress. Here's Shabula.

Currently, Shabula is a 0/15/56 Survival build.

There'll definitely be more on that, later.

I'm in a fantastic guild called Kraklenheit Industries, a "serious casual" guild that tends to get things down after the hardcore guilds do but before the truly casual. It's a good pace for me, though I've often considered "going hardcore."

Feel introduced? Good. Look for more posts to appear here in the very near future.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turning the ol' engine back over

Time has passed, and I haven't blogged here. Real-life commitments combined with increased WoW-time have really left me without time to blog. My free time, however, ought to be increasing significantly in the upcoming months - I'm finishing graduate school and looking forward to a rather mysterious employment future. Bad for the bank account, but good for blogging!

So I'm back, and I'll be kicking this site back into a slightly different gear - I've found myself playing the role of Hunter-theorycrafter more and more lately, and I'd like to share that with the world. So, once things get rolling again, what you see here will be something much more like a Hunter theorycraft site than a personal blog, though personal stuff will certainly leak through.

To the future - may it be thoroughly theorycrafted!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Last night, Reins of the Bronze Drake from heroic CoT: Strat.

Tonight, first Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad kills on the 10-man version of Naxx.

Tomorrow night, the first guild-only venture into Naxx-25.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

...and then everything changed.

A snapshot on the last night of Burning Crusade. So proud of that gear that will be vendored or banked within the next several days.

Goodbye, BC, we hardly knew ye.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An overview of Hunter loot from Wrath leveling dungeons

This will be an ongoing project. I'm starting with Utgarde Keep and making my way through.

The pieces I'm including here are pieces particularly for Hunters - tanking guns, items with expertise, etc, aren't going to make this list.

Please leave comments and suggestions.

Utgarde Keep

The first dungeon for most people, more than likely. Three Hunter pieces drop here: Dragon Stabler's Gauntlets (Prince Keleseth) , the only mail piece, and two leather drops - Vrykul Shackles (trash) and Skarvald's Dragonskin Habergeon (Dalronn/Skarvald)

The gloves are comparable to Tier 4 from Karazhan, and may be an upgrade thanks to their heavy Intellect. The two leather pieces are similarly around Karazhan levels, except that Skarvald's Dragonskin Habergeon has a lot of Agility and may be a good choice for Survival Hunters.

The Nexus

The second dungeon most will run, featuring quite a few quests and bosses. Two pieces of Hunter loot drop here: Drakonid Arm Blade (Ormorok) and Cleated Ice Boots. (Anomalus)

The Drakonid Arm Blade stacks enough Agility to be a worthy replacement for anything up to a Dagger of Bad Mojo. The Cleated Ice Boots have stats almost as solid as Cobra-Lash Boots from Lady Vashj - definitely worth looking at for any Hunter outside Sunwell.


Starting areas will have been left behind by the time most run Azjol-Nerub; it's a 73-75 instance.

Two items drop here that Hunters could use, but they're not strong Hunter-items: Cobweb Machete, a dagger, and Treads of Aspiring Heights, leather boots.

Both items stack enough Agility to be useful to Survival Hunters, but are likely to be lackluster for other specs.


The dungeon-whose-name-cannot-be-pronounced falls in the same 73-75 range as Azjol-Nerub. This dungeon contains some notable Hunter (and physical DPS in general) drops.

Spored Tendrils Spaulders (Trash), Pyramid Embossed Belt (Herald Volazj), Jedoga's Greatring (Jedoga Shadowseeker), and Slasher's Amulet (Prince Talderam) are all reasonably likely to replace BC gear.

Spored Tendrils Spaulders compare well against Shoulders of the Hidden Predator. Pyramid Embossed Belt, again, packs a ton of Agility for the Survivalists. Jedoga's Greatring is on par with Angelista's Revenge, and Slasher's Amulet is close to the Guardian's Pendant of Triumph.

Drak'tharon Keep

Ranging in level from 74-76, this instance is notable mostly for its inclusion of a dinosaur boss.

Three Hunter-friendly pieces drop here - a 2H sword and two helms. Troll Butcherer (Trollgore), Helmet of Living Flesh (The Prophet Tharon'ja), and Scabrous-Hide Helm (King Dred).

Troll Butcherer is a clear upgrade over Vengeful Gladiator's Waraxe, and may be an upgrade from Halberd of Desolation depending on how much Hit one has. Helmet of Living Flesh and the leather Scabrous-Hide Helm are both on par with the T6 Helm, except that they lack a meta gem (or any gem) socket. For Hunters will head pieces of lower quality than the T6 helm, either of these two head pieces are likely to be an upgrade.

The Violet Hold

This instance has been called Black Morass 2.0, but I'd say it's more akin to the final encounter in Arcatraz.

Two pieces of Hunter loot drop here - Prison Warden's Shotgun (Lavanthor) and Xevozz's Belt (Xevoss).

Finally, a ranged weapon! Prison Warden's Shotgun is a solid upgrade from nearly every BC ranged weapon, unless the BC weapon is providing significant stat upgrades. Xevozz's belt is a solid DPS belt, and will upgrade Guardian's Chain Belt or be a small downgrade versus Boneweave Girdle.


Level range 76-78. At this point, most drops are going to be upgrades from even BT gear. This instance shows off the Ice Trolls, who have been kicking Scourge butt. Trolls FTW.

Three major pieces of Hunter loot drop here. Drakkari Hunting Bow (Drakkari Colossus), Cannibal's Legguards (Slad'ran), and Shoulderguards of the Ice Troll (Drakkari Colossus).

Drakkari Hunting Bow is a straight upgrade from Legionkiller. It has a surprisingly high speed, which may make it relatively undesirable for those who want high top-end damage. For BM and Surv Hunters, this is an extremely good weapon. Cannibal's Legguards are an upgrade over Leggings of the Pursuit, and so worth picking up for almost anyone. Shoulderguards of the Ice Troll are heavy on Agility and Hit, and so compare favorably versus Shoulders of the Hidden Predator depending on spec and Hit Rating.

Halls of Lightning

One of the four normal level-80 dungeons.

There's quite a bit of Hunter gear here: Projectile Activator (Loken), Boots of the Terrestrial Guardian (Trash), Tornado Cuffs (Ionar), Leather-Braced Chain Leggings (Loken), Hood of the Furtive Assassin (Loken), and Bjarngrim Family Signet (General Bjarngrim).

Projectile Activator has more conventional stats and a slower speed than Drakkari Hunting Bow, and so may be a better option for MM Hunters. All of the mail gear here is similar to Sunwell gear; worthy of taking. The Bjarngrim Family Signet, in particular, is hard to beat with BC gear - it's similar to the craftable Sunwell physical DPS ring.

The Oculus

This instance is not to be missed - it is uniquely laid out and very fun to explore.

Seven pieces of potential Hunter loot drop here: Wyrmclaw Battleaxe (Ley-Guardian Eregos), Lifeblade of Belgaristrasz (Drakos the Interrogator), Spaulders of Skillful Maneuvers (Mage-Lord Uron), Headguard of Westrift (Ley-Guardian Eregos), Ley-Whelphide Belt (Trash), Sidestepping Handguards (Mage-Lord Uron), and Centrifuge Core Cloak (Varos Cloudstrider).

Wyrmclaw Battleaxe will be the Sonic Spear of Wrath. Every Hunter will want one. Lifeblade of Belgaristrasz is an excellent 1H for lovers of dual-wielding. Both Spaulders of Skillful Maneuvers and Headguard of Westrift rival Sunwell gear. The leather pieces offer excellent DPS stats, as well. Centrifuge Core Cloak is a direct upgrade from Cloak of Fiends - same stats, in greater amounts. Cloak of Unforgivable Sin from Sunwell still edges it, however.

Utgarde Pinnacle

Like Shattered Halls, this level-80 dungeon sits atop Utgarde Keep.

Seven pieces of Hunter loot drop here: Ymiron's Blade (King Ymiron), Ritualistic Athame (Svala Sorrowgrave), Tear-Linked Gauntlets (Svala Sorrowgrave), Trophy Gatherer (Gortok Palehoof), Ceremonial Pyre Mantle (King Ymiron), Drake Rider's Tunic (Skadi the Ruthless), and Vestige of Haldor (King Ymiron).

Ymiron's Blade and Ritualistic Athame are more solid 1H options. Tear-Linked Gauntlets compare favorably with Gronnstalker's Gloves - definitely worth a look. Trophy Gatherer is the MM weapon of choice from normal Wrath dungeons - it's very, very slow at 3.00. The two leather pieces are similar to or better than Sunwell gear, and so worth a roll.

About the Vestige of Haldor. Finally, a trinket, but it has a few problems. First, it provides passive Haste. Hunters are going to be drowning in Haste in Wrath. Second, it has a flat 15% chance-on-hit proc that doesn't scale with anything but Haste. Take it if no one else wants it, but let the Combat Rogue in your group have first crack at it.

Caverns of Time - Culling of Stratholme

Immensely fun, deeply story-driven, and unlike any instance before Wrath.

Four potential Hunter drops come from this instance: Meathook's Slicer (Meathook), Waistband of the Thuzadin (Salramm the Fleshcrafter), King's Square Bracers (Trash), and Necklace of the Chrono-Lord (Chrono-Lord Epoch).

Not much stand-out loot from this instance - Meathook's Slicer is another decent 1H, and King's Square Bracers will be worth taking to upgrade BC gear. Waistband of the Thuzadin is a strong piece thanks to its lack of Haste. Necklace of the Chrono-Lord is a rare neck drop, but suffers from its Haste itemization.


More to come - next up is Heroic Dungeon loot, then I'll start working on an analysis of gear from early raid dungeons.

If you see anything missing, broken, wrong, or extraneous, please let me know.