Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For now, not a hunter or a raiding blog

It's a very good thing that I have some characters I like to play and some people I like to play with, because the more I look at the informed folks' experiences with hunters after the 3.0.8 patch, the more it looks like what I was doing with Tivara simply isn't viable anymore.

First, links.

And it goes and goes like that. I'm not bothering with Elitist Jerks links, since I find their forum culture toxic. Out in that portion of the real world which includes people playing and writing in ways I find interesting, there's a genuine consensus: Beast Mastery will no longer allow a raiding hunter to do an impressive amount of damage. Raiding is very much a game of parts, in which each participant needs to do the handful of things they do particular well, and do them reliably, so that the whole is an assemblage of really good parts. For hunters, that's putting out a lot of damage in short order.

{Edit and Update: Pike, of Aspect of the Hare, says in comments: "At this point I have respec'd to Beast Mastery, for me the DPS gain from going to MM was very minimal. Though MM was fun because you had to press a bunch of buttons, but in the end it got too distracting." So that's one voice back in the BM direction. Thank you for commenting, Pike, much appreciated.}

Unfortunately, the options for hunters doing that now all look really unappealing to me.

Marksmanship (and, to a lesser degree, Survival) specs rely more on shot rotation macro. For those of you playing along at home, that's a macro assigned to a key or button that, when pressed or triggered repeatedly, fires off a sequence of shots arranged so that cooldown times and synergistic effects add up to the biggest bang for the buck. Abstracting it out, a shot rotation macro might fire in turn special shot A, special shot B, special shot C, A again now that it's cooled down and ready for use again, B, B again, C now that it's cooled down, and then start the sequence over with A again. Comics fans can think of this as playing Silver Age Green Arrow.

The thing is, I don't like that kind of macro use. There are macros I like and use, to combine two or maybe three actions into one, or to assign the target of a spell based on the circumstances of the fight. (Whenever I play a healer, all my character's healing spells get a stock treatment: cast this heal on the target if it's friendly, on the target's target if the target is hostile, and on my character if I don't actually have a target right now.) The more complex ones feel to me like I'm playing at being a programmer in the days of time sharing and batch jobs rather than playing at being a character in a fantasy world—the degree of detachment from play bugs me. I'm just not tuned in if I'm not getting to make some choices in play, even at the cost of some efficiency. When it takes that much automation to do the job well, the job isn't worth doing, for me.

Survival has a different problem, in that its distinctive combinations of talents call for a fair degree of mobility in the midst of fights. I don't do mobility well. I can't reliably manage a bunch of the mouse-movement-and-shooting combos at all. My reflexes got set in an earlier videogaming day and have only decayed since then, and after a very long futile struggle to assimilate this stuff, I admitted that I was getting nowhere and that I should find my fun playing what I can do in my keyboard-centric sort of way. It's why, for instance, the Combat tree for rogues was such a delight for me: I didn't have to keep trying to stay behind targets all the time. Subtlety is, to my taste, a much cooler rogue tree and full of sneaking nastiness I love, but Combat's what I could actually take to a fight. Well, Survival's trap-dancing high-maneuverability approach is another one of those things I can't make work. I like the idea, and I love to watch a good Survival hunter in play. I just can't do it.

So there I am.

It's always possible I could hassle out something that wouldn't be too uncomfortable for me and not too unproductive for raiding. But...I'm not motivated to play that kind of compromise-hunting game right now. So until I see some reliable signs that hunter approaches that I actively like will work again, Tivara will be in raid retirement.

At the moment, as recent posts have indicated, I'm putting most time into my night elf death knight, Spiderheart. I think I'm going to start up a new alt or two to take advantage of Lunar Festival goodies, and let that do it for now. In a separate post I will comment on features of death knights that are making them remarkably rewarding for me. Spider's coming up on level 72 and my gang's really, really not rushing to endgame since we are confident that opportunities will be there when we get there. Lots of side questing, working on reputations, and stuff like that. When will I next raid? Dunno, to be honest. Sometime in February, I'd guess, but I have no idea, nor any urge to hazard a guess, not when the present moment is working so well with this character.

This concludes the whining portion of today's programming.


Pike said...

At this point I have respec'd to Beast Mastery, for me the DPS gain from going to MM was very minimal. Though MM was fun because you had to press a bunch of buttons, but in the end it got too distracting.

Mrigashirsha said...

Then I will annotate and update. Thanks!