I’ve love Marksmanship Hunter ever since I’ve chosen to create one. I started playing WoW a little after the Burning Crusade expansion and during that time Hunters plays very differently than today. Some of the major changes are; Hunters used to use ammo as off-hand item, they used to use mana instead of focus, and they used to be able to dual-wield melee weapons as a secondary weapon set. The current design of Hunter is more specialized and for the most part, it is better.
Just to look back at the game play during Wrath, I can use both range and melee as a hunter. The skills like deterrence and wingclip are great skill to increase my hunter’s survivability. The use of mana gives my hunter the ability to burst and continue the burst capability thanks to effects that increases mana regen. The talent tree was also interesting back then with so many choices but to only really have one path. In a sense, even with many choices, hunters pick the same exact talent to maintain their high DPS. As a casual player, I love the options even though is not optimal. Well, all of these are gone now starting in Cataclysm. Mana was replaced with focus, which was horrible at the time. Deterrence in now replace by Turtle Stance, which in my opinion is better. Wingclip is replaced with Bursting Shot. Also, no more ammo.
So basically, Blizzard divided the hunter class into 3 different sub classes; MM hunter, Beastmaster, and Survival hunter. MM hunter can choose not to have pets which is a big plus instead they are given stat boost. Beastmaster is obviously the pet class and survival hunter is the melee class. Even though survival also have a pet, Beastmaster have 2 pets plus another pet they can call any time and even cause a pet stampede (now changed to beast stampede). Survival is focus more on trapping and ambushing and it has a lot more work needed to make it viable. Survival doesn’t have the safety of range so Blizzard need to tweak this to make it more appealing — so far, it’s just a spec for fun, nothing more. For now, I’ll be focusing on MM Hunter.
Pet or no pet
This sub-class can go two different ways; with pet or without pet. The advantage of not having pet is that it removes the worry about pet management plus the added stat boost from Lone Wolf. The advantage of having a pet is taking Steady Focus where MM can burst constantly. However, the pet doesn’t make up for the DPS loss so the question is, will the increase in focus generation make up for the 18% over all damage loss. Steady Aim is not even worth mentioning even though it has a high initial damage, however it has no effect for 80% of the fight. In my opinion, Lone Wolf is still the best pick because I personally like bursting damage.
8% trigger, really?
The second talent row is not a hard choice that Lock and Load is the best choice. Black Arrow was a choice when I was still leveling up and it’s hard to control mobs without a pet, so the temp pet from Black Arrow is a good thing especially due to low Haste, I can’t even trigger LnL. When I got high enough Haste plus the Haste food buff, I no linger need a temp pet, thus LnL is the best pick to take advantage of the Vulnerability debuff. I use Black Arrow mainly when doing World Quest against rare level mobs, elites just one shots the pet so I don’t even bother doing those solo. True Aim is my other favorite, which I’m contemplating on taking instead of LnL, but for now, I’m sticking with LnL.
This next talent row is not even a contest. The weakness of MM is snare so it’s obvious that the best choice is Posthaste. Dash would be nice to also have an Aspect of the Fox effect, allowing me to charge shots while moving. As for Farstrider, I have no idea what is this for.
Damage boost, Yay!
The level 60 talent row is obviously a damage boost talent. Explosive Shot deals a lot of AoE damage but the problem I have with this skill is that I have to detonate it, which is also a bummer if the target moves. However, I find it very effective at short range where I can cast it and detonate it right away. It can clear swarms of adds or overzealous Nightborne guards. Patient Sniper is a good talent since it doubles the damage boost provided by vulnerability. Vulnerability stacks upto 3 times providing 25% damage boost per stack, total of 75% damage boost. Patient Sniper grants 150% damage boost right of the bat. Although the choice here is, do I prefer to take advantage of 75% boost for 30s, or cash in on damage boost at 150% in 6s. The choice is obvious at this point that Patient Sniper is the best pick — in addition, it also increases my max Focus by 30. This increased Focus is significant to my build and I’ll explain it later. Fuck the useless Sentinel, if it applies vulnerability instead of Hunter’s Mark, maybe.
CC or hide?
This talent row is really a toss up since each one has their own appeal. Wyvern Sting is akin to Overwatch Ana’s sleeping dart so it’s a fun skill, but just like Ana’s, it’s a single target. I rarely need an AoE stun, but Binding Shot is a good prep for Exploding Shot or escaping the Nightborne guards. I personally like to avoid the situation where I have to run away so I choose Camouflage. Camo is a good follow-up skill after Feign Death.
AoE damage skill
I personally dislike Barrage because it cost 60 focus and channels 2.9s — it defeats the main focus of my build which is busting damage. Barrage boast 300k damage but that is translated to 13k DPS (300k / [20 + 2.9]) which cost 60% of my focus…not a good deal. Volley is a stupid skill, it cost 3 focus for an AoE on auto-attack? WTF?! Multi-shot will take care of this and it generates focus instead of draining. Now my personal favorite, Murder of Crows. With my current build, it deals 750k damage over time and it’s one of those skill that I set it and forget it. MoC has several uses also, thanks to its reset feature, I can use it on adds after adds after adds. It doesn’t have the AoE ability of Barrage but it is a very effective anti-crowed skill or DoT in a boss fight.
Sidewinders is the common choice because it grants a lot of Focus. It replaces both Arcane Shot and Multi-shot and generates 55 focus, more focus than those two can generate put together. However, this talent has an issue and it might be a bug — while AS’s and MS’s projectile travels straight and fast, Sidewinders slowly zigzags towards the target. Despite that, it applies vulnerability which makes stacking it really easy but my problem is with the 12s cooldown. Even though it has 2 charges, the cooldown just feel clunky. Trick Shot is a good damage boost in conjunction with LnL which gives Aimed Shot a lot of damage potential. However the damage increase of 15% is still low compare to the 25% per stack damage boost from Sidewinders. The real appeal of this talent is when Multi-Shot procs a lot of vulnerability and having Aimed Shot bounce to each target is very satisfying. In the end, I chose Piercing Shot and having spec’ed for Patient Sniper helps a lot since I get 30 focus left over after using PS at 100 focus. On a fun side, I sometimes opt to use Exploding Shot because with Piercing Shot, they just deal a lot of insane AoE damage.
The main fuel of this build is Haste. The more Haste the better until, I think 50%, then Critical Chance. So when gearing, I always look for both Crit chance and Haste, prioritizing Haste. I have my rings enchanted with haste and I consume haste food. Another stat combination that I don’t mind is Haste + Mastery and lately I’m leaning towards this combination since Mastery is more consistent than Crit chance, but right now, I’m still not sure. So for now, if I can’t get Crit + Haste, I’m willing to settle on Haste + Mastery.
When they removed melee, ammo, and mana from Hunters, I was furious and took a long break from the game and only purchased the expansion when it went on sale typically during the holidays. I would only have 1-2 months of subscription and then I quit playing altogether. I mean sure, there’s a lot of good and fun content, but what’s the point of it all if I find it frustrating playing my main hero. This is my main issue with GW2, sure there’s a lot of content but I hated my Thief, so what’s the point? The way Blizzard have the sub-class designed is actually something that suits me. MM without pet, plethora of pets as BM, and melee trapper as survival — I mean it’s like they scanned my brain and use the information to design these sub-classes, in other words, it’s perfect for me, I love them. With a little tweak and fix here and there, I think Blizzard finally made a game that I like to play all the time (of course, this is beside the fact about time-gating and no-flying bullshit). As long as I don’t dwell too much on what the game lacks and as long as my hunter is fun to play, I may choose to keep my sub active for a long while. So far, I subbed for 3 months and contemplating in renewing it for another 3 months.