Beta Classes: Aspects are Now on the Regular GCD (Hunter Discussion)

I don’t normally cover the official WoW forums unless there is a blue post because they’re very active forums and I honestly just don’t have the time to do them justice. There is, however, one thread that is currently very active in the Beta Classes forum that stands out not only because it’s generating a great deal of discussion but also because we find top hunter PvPers, raiders, and theorycrafters in general agreement on an issue that affects us all: Aspects on the global cooldown.

The issue began with the Mists of Pandaria beta build 15983. Datamining for the patch showed a change that hunters were initial excited about: Aspects no longer had a one second cooldown. However, after the build went live it became apparent that although the Aspect cooldown had been removed, changing aspects now activated the global cooldown. The result of this is that after changing aspects a hunter must now wait for the GCD to finish before firing a shot. Below are a few highlights from the thread:

Kergane created a thread on the official hunter forum for commentary on the change, “Putting the Aspects on the normal GCD as with the latest Beta build feels very clunky and ‘un-fun.’”

While I realize the attempt here to make aspect switching macros non-mandatory, I would argue that they already are non-mandatory. In a PvE or PvP situation using Fox for every steady/cobra cast will lose you damage, all be it not much in the PvP area. It is far more effective at current to use situational setups and macros that allows the use of hawk while standing still and being aware enough to switch to Fox via macro (Independently or with a separate key-bound macro for a SS / CoS cast) or manually when you have to move.

The use of the aspect switching macros and using those 100% of the time is just a laziness issue (useful for non-serious situations to save some strain if you took the time to create the macros.) They are not however mandatory to have to reach your maximum effectiveness. However, by putting aspects on the normal GCD it breaks both macro switching and manual switching of aspects to being very cumbersome and greatly limiting the use of Fox to situations where you will be moving for very long term periods where you will not have enough focus to fill GCDs. Especially with talents such as Fervor to keep Focus going… it is unlikely Fox will ever see use in PvE in high movement situations unless that situation is rather long in length (thinking of Atramedes air phase as an example) and lower the amount of time use it will get in PvP.

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Later in the thread, Bullettime replied, “The reason we used macros to begin with was because the entire mechanic is unnecessary and clunky as all hell. Adding additional punishment while not looking at the reason WHY is mind boggling. Aspects need to be redesigned. Period.” [link]

Rykinia (Tosan) agreed with Bullettime, “^ This. I hope someone at Blizzard reads this. I enjoy Hunter PvP greatly in Cataclysm, but that would not be the case I’m sure if not for the ability to macro aspects (even though macro’ing is still a bit clunky, it’s tolerable).”

Hunter gameplay is fun and rewarding at high levels, there’s a lot of skillful things you can do (especially in PvP).  It’s very engaging, fast paced, and fun. Aspect swapping, however, is not fun at all.  There’s nothing fun or exciting about aspect swapping, period.Now, Aspect of the Cheetah is a prime example of how aspects should work.  It’s situational but useful occasionally, I like to use it when I’m camouflaged in the start of an Arena match and I can run faster while I’m not taking hits, although at the risk of being dazed if I’m knocked out of camouflage with anything.

If there were more aspects like that, I’d say the system could be fun, but having to constantly rotate between fox/hawk is not fun, exciting, or good design in my opinion.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion and some may disagree, but honestly……aspects in previous expansions were done better than they are now (like using Dragonhawk until you ran out of mana, switching to Viper for a while, etc).

Constantly swapping between the combat aspects is clunky and obnoxious, and I think it will take away from the otherwise fun and engaging Hunter gameplay.

I already hate that we’re going to deal with RNG (rather have deadzone and no dodge/parry frankly) that melee have to deal with….one of the reasons I hate playing melee in PvP in this game to begin with (although most melee have stuns to disable dodge/parry chance, and we don’t really other than Intimidation afaik).   I hate RNG but whatever, too late to cry about that change now.

However aspects are an easy fix and I hate the Cataclysm aspect design, if not for the current ability to macro them, I would probably not enjoy this class nearly as much.

I also realize some hunters play without macros right now and they manage fine, it’s not that you can’t adapt to it/get used to it.  The problem is I don’t see a benefit in getting used to a system which I feel is clunky and poorly designed to begin with.  It just seems pointless because I see no benefits to the system at all.

Sorry for long post.  This is my 2 cents, I’m just really worried about the quality of life in MoP for hunters.

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Zeherah replied, “I have to say I’m extremely disappointed by the way this was changed, and I hope that Blizzard was just experimenting with something and will change it back until they have time to give some thought to a better solution to the problem. There’ve been a lot of good suggestions on this topic that I hope Blizzard will take a serious look at.”

I am one of those who would love to see the macroing of aspects go away, but only if the reason we feel the need to macro aspect dancing is addressed and hunters are given a better implementation to deal with movement heavy situations. This solution doesn’t really address the larger issue, and it’s very late in the beta to be making a change like this which greatly impacts hunter balance in movement situations.

In DS our fox requirements weren’t very high, but I recall them being far higher in Firelands. I haven’t looked too closely at the new expansion content, but unless it’s as easy on movement requirements as DS I can see this change being problematic. I don’t have enough experience to comment on the PvP impact, but I’m guessing they’d just end up staying in fox all the time.

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Skhope wrote, “Do devs remember what they said back in wrath about aspect dancing (dragonhawk and viper dancing)? You’ve made this class a lot more reliant on aspect dancing instead of delivering on your promise of reducing it in cata and this isn’t changing a single bit in MoP. I admire what you’ve done with stances for warriors. Why can’t you do the same for hunters?”

This change does not provide a skillful or engaging gameplay. We will still be forced to cast fox when we are moving and we need regen or Serpent refresh. There’s 0 thinking involved. Now, it costs us GCD, which are already sparse for PVP hunters. It’s funny how pretty much every caster have spells that can be cast on the move without cumbersome mechanic like aspects in MoP. Why can’t you just make Steady/Cobra castable regardless of aspect and replace fox with something that goes toe to toe with Hawk? I suggested a while ago to change Fox to reduce focus cost of shots and transfer a lot more damage to Hawk. This would actually make hunters think about choosing between the two.

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Lorelei replied to Zeherah: People don’t log PvP fights, but they log the PvE ones. We can quantify how often we switch aspects in raids and calculate how many GCDs we’ll lose, after accounting for whether we would just use a focus generator instead at that time (which most of us don’t have now, because only BM has fervor).”

If the number of GCDs isn’t worth the opportunity cost, then we just won’t switch during movement. I think the part that people keep skipping is that you ideally wouldn’t switch into Fox unless you actually need the resources, and if you actually need the resources then you couldn’t have spent the GCD you’re “losing” on a damage shot in the first place.

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Zeherah replied, “The issue is really that they’re changing the design of hunters so that we’re going to be dinged far more substantially on fights with unpredictable movement than we are now (on fights with predictable movement we can as usual pool focus for these situations). Yes, people will adjust to whatever they throw at us, but on certain fight designs it may have a noticable impact on our damage and it’s worrisome that they’re addressing it in this manner this late in the balancing phase. They’ve also modified aspect of the hawk to scale better with gear, so the impact of this will be more significant as we get further into the expansion.”

It may be that they’ve decided that hunters were too movement friendly on fights and this may be part of their design goal to weaken us but it seems more likely that this was just the simplest fix and I worry that all the implications of it may not have been fully considered. There have been a lot of good ideas of ways for replace or improve on the current aspect swapping implementation and I’d rather see one of those looked at.

If they’re truly married to this approach, I’d like to see them raise our maximum focus a bit so we have more control over pooling than we do currently, which would truly let us plan ahead for movement situations. I suppose fervor and dire beast are somewhat of an answer to this, but it’d be nice to have more control over our focus flow in ways that didn’t involve reducing uptime on damage cooldowns.

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Lorelei replied, “Again, the quantity matters, as does the actual application. Assuming you don’t use a shot macro, here’s what happens:”

Unpredicable movement happens, and for some reason you’re out of focus. I say “for some reason” because unpredictable means just that — you can’t predict when it happens. Sometimes you’ll need to move, but you won’t be low on focus when it happens, and you won’t need to cast steady/cobra during the movement phase anyway. Anyway, your response is:

Live: Switch to Fox, start shooting Steady/Cobra 0.2 seconds later. The 0.2 seconds is a number representing the average human reaction time. Yours may be faster or slower than that.

MoP: Switch to Fox, start shooting Steady/Cobra one second later, OR, pop Fervor or Dire Beast and don’t bother with Steady/Cobra until you can stop moving.

There’s no difference in button presses, because we’re talking about the “normal” people who allegedly are being punished even though they don’t use macros. The absolute maximum difference is 1 second of downtime (which is usually a half second less than the other ranged classes). It’s almost certainly less than that because most people are not superhuman robots.

So how noticeable is the damage decrease? I understand the concern, but that’s the first step. The next step is to try and quantify it to see if it’s really that big of a problem. Every thread I’ve seen so far is stuck on the first step. [...]

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Zeherah replied, “Lorelei, I’m sure there are some people in this thread who really don’t know how to manage focus regen and really have no idea how this will impact them, but please give some of us credit that we have some idea how to use our buttons.”

First of all, your live scenario neglects to mention that you will need to also lose another GCD later when you are done covering for the unpredictable movement so that you can continue to maximize damage by getting hawk back up. This is asuming you don’t have dire beast or fervor up. Dire beast and fervor do give us some more options, but we are likely balanced around close to full uptime on these given the short cooldown, which means holding onto them in case we get hit by something that randomly forces us to move may not be efficient.

The real change in this scenario in PvE, is that now every hunter is going to need to have a much clearer idea of the exact opportunity cost involved in switching to fox and how long they’ll be moving/low on resources. If you choose poorly, you’re throwing 2 GCDs out the window for possibly not much value. This will make for a much larger gap between the really skilled hunters and the average hunter on any fight where movment is required.

Perhaps this is their goal, and some people may cheer this on, but I think most hunters really don’t want to spend tons of time theorycrafting the value of all their shots and spending hours in threads trying to figure out how many seconds they have to be moving before fox is worth using.

This change will also greatly increase the frustration level on these movement situations. The RNG of whether you get hit when you’re low on focus is going to drive me batty I’m sure. We’ve gotten very spoiled by low and predictable movement in DS but I don’t expect things to always be like that.

Also, you have to keep in mind that most good hunters have always only used fox to get enough focus to use their money shots, which they didn’t cast in fox. With this change, it will only be worth going into fox if we expect to be moving long enough to make it worth it, which means we will more often be in a situation where we will have to use fox on our money shots as well because if not we’ll be spending more GCDs getting back into it afterwards.

This change also has an impact on the value of aspect of the iron hawk (which will become even less attractive on fights with movement and random raid damage), although perhaps that’s intentional to make the other talents more attractive.

I still would love to see Blizzard address the macro issue, but this is not the right way to do it. When this topic first came up, many folks wanted to pretend the issue didn’t exist because of fear of exactly this situation- that Blizzard would solve it in the most simplistic way possible instead of addressing the root design. I had hoped that Blizzard would look at some of the great suggestions people have provided and do something better, but this late in the expansion I don’t see that happening, so I think this needs to be tabled and revisited in the next patch when it can be given more detailed attention.

[link]

Kellani wrote, “I can’t recall seeing such a uniformly negative reaction to any hunter change. There’s tons of discussion- all negative – on the Arena Junkies and Skill Capped hunter boards, both of which are usually very quiet.

http://www.arenajunkies.com/forum/16-hunter/
http://www.skill-capped.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?12-Hunter  [...]

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Meila wrote, “Yeah, I’ve liked everything Blizzard did so far with Hunters but this is a step in the wrong direction. [...]”

Let me provide the voice for those that may not have Beta access:

A look on the bright side
Beta Aspects and what you can do

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