I’ve been threatening to do a write-up on the state of beast mastery hunters for a long time and now I’m finally making good on it. I hesitated for a long time because I’m a relative newcomer to the class, having just started playing a hunter and maining a DPS spec in Legion. (For all previous expansions with the exception of the second part of TBC and first part of WoTLK I played a healer.) Whenever this happens I feel like I need to back myself up by listing my long resume of raiding history including portions where I was a raid leader and officer in several guilds. I’ve been playing WoW and raiding in some capacity since around the time Blackwing Lair was considered ‘progression.’ I’ve always been a middle-of-the-road raiding player. Somewhere between ‘good’ and ‘we just needed a warm body for this’ depending on the weather and my attention-span that day.
I was also wary because the default attitude towards beast mastery hunters seems to be: “Oh they’re a 3-button faceroll class, they don’t deserve to do good DPS.”
I disagree. In fact, I challenge that view with the following assertion:
Beast Mastery hunters are a weird mix of a ranged and melee class. You might think I’m exaggerating here but I’m not. Consider that we have all the negatives of a ranged class (Generally expected to do more mechanics. Eat cake, target swap, soak pools, etc.) with all the negatives of having a melee class attached to us in the form of our pets. (As in, if it’s a target swapping fight like Cenarius, a good 80% of our DPS in in transit switching back and forth from adds the entire time.) There’s a lot more micromanagement required to play the spec well than people might think. Keyword being ‘well.’ Any class in this game can be played at an average level, it’s part of what makes the game great. But if you don’t know how to manage your pets well, you’re going to have a bad time as a BM hunter. (Especially since Hati is slower than a tire rolling uphill.)
I’ll give you an example of my analogy – the Krosus fight in Nighthold requires ranged to soak pools while the only mechanic melee need to worry about is running out of slams. When Krosus slams and breaks the bridge, any melee caught in it gets stunned or dies by falling into the water. This also applies to hunter pets. What this means is that BM hunters need to be keenly aware of his slam, a melee only mechanic, so that they can manually pull their pets away and prevent them from being stunned and unable to attack for a few precious seconds. Since hunter pets are by default agonizingly slow, this can generally only be accomplished by using dash and just ignoring Hati because he will never, ever make it out in time and just ends up stunned regardless.
Are you starting to catch my drift? Good. Now can we please get rid of the “lol faceroll u dont deserve good DPS” attitude? Good. With this long intro out of the way, I’m going to get into the true reason for this post: Feedback. What’s going right, and what’s going oh God so very wrong with BM hunters right now.
Let’s start with the uh, glowing blue wolf elephant in the room, okay? Hati.
This poor doggo is probably the most hated animal in the game right now. I can appreciate that they wanted to try something unique for hunters in Legion, but…poor Hati. It was an interesting idea in theory but in practice and function he is just subpar in almost every way. I think at this point I’d prefer an artifact ability that played this video on repeat every time it was used rather than having to deal with Hati.
Let’s just come out and say it, okay? Hati sucks. Consider this log from my heroic trilliax kill this week. (Pls 2 disregard other boss kills on heroic it was only my second week and I did terribly swap to normal for my big pen0r DPS numbers if that’s your thing.) Hati only just barely did more damage than my auto-shots. I realize his damage is also figured into the overall kill command damage, but that is just pathetically bad. He does marginally more damage than a good trinket or a neck enchant. This is our ARTIFACT ability here. I don’t think any other class has an artifact ability that is actually a liability to them the way Hati is. Not sure what I mean? Let me use another anecdote –
I’m in mythic+15 or whatever vault of the wardens and my group decides it wants to save time and sneak past the jailer mob that sits by the final elevator to the dark area. The rogue hits the entire group with AoE stealth and we start running. I’m stealthed, my regular pet is stealthed, hati is not. Hati pulls the mob. I commit seppuku on the elevator out of shame.
Another example would be a place like court of stars. There are a lot of tight turns and corners in that dungeon that require precision movement. I have the aggro radius of a semi-truck because I have two pets, only one of which can stealth and they both stand on either side of me. This usually leads to me having to dismiss my pets and lag behind so that I’m not the one who pulled the extra sentry.
As a pet mechanic, Hati is impossible to control. He will not leash, he will not maintain attacks, and he does not aggro properly. If I lead with a multi-shot on a group of mobs, my main pet will blink over and start beast cleaving. Hati will sit next to me and beast cleave at the air.
When he DOES aggro a mob, he never actually de-aggros no matter what you do. A classic case of this is when I was doing Emerald Nightmare raid achievements and we were on Nythendra. The goal of that achievement is to squash bugs during her swarm phase. The entire raid was over-geared so we opted to not damage her so that she didn’t accidentally die before we got all the bugs. I hit follow/passive and my main pet ran over and sat like a good boy. Hati just kept. running. back. to. the. big. nono. dragon. It got to a point where I had to use the ‘play dead’ ability which puts your pets into feign death to get him to stop. He also does this during the second boss of vault which stinks because he’s wasting valuable DPS time by running all over the place given his slow running speed.
So he comes with all the negative bugs that regular pets have right now while suffering additionally because he’s got the AI of a guardian rather than an actual controllable pet. (Think the difference between a mage water elemental and a shaman’s regular earth elemental or a DK’s army of the dead ghoul.)
So we have this artifact ability that while unique and super cute and you just wanna smooch him head – he sucks at damage and will cause your death more often than you’d care to realize. I mean, pets in general are super bugged out this expansion.
But Hati is on a special level uniquely his own. He gets KOed more often than not on the courtesan mobs before Elisande in Nighthold for whatever reason (I can tell because I’ll get the “You let your dog die you terrible owner you” debuff) but I consider it a blessing.
How to fix Hati? Dear God, I do not know. He is almost broken beyond repair. The issue is that he has the AI of a guardian rather than a pet and as such his actual mechanics are very limited outside of ‘move’ and ‘do damage.’ A lot of hunters have been asking since launch for a way to just imbue Hati’s spirit into our regular pet to give it a flat damage buff equivalent to what we’d lose by Hati not being around. (So extra damage from his base damage and anything that would come along with it like way of the cobra which does more damage depending on the amount of pets/guardians you have out.)
Alternatively, pump up his damage and make spawning him a high DPS cooldown that lasts for 10-20 seconds the same way murder of crows does. I mean honestly, if his damage is this terrible already, there’s not really any reason not to turn him into a cooldown and just have that damage come as burst rather than crappily spread throughout a fight like old chalky butter.
Poor Hati though. He’s so cute. I feel terrible that he was dealt such a terrible hand and is now almost universally hated. 😦 A doggo should never be hated, only loved.
I don’t think Hati can, or should, be turned into another fully functioning pet. Our DPS doesn’t need to be split between 3 different functional entities anyway. (Hunter, pet, hati.) It adds more uncertainties and liabilities in fights and maintaining steady DPS expectations. Asking a person to control two characters in battle in one thing. Expecting them to manage 3 is a little excessive, ‘beast master’ or not.
The reason beast mastery hunters have been churning out mediocre DPS this expansion is not an issue of numbers, it’s an issue of mechanics. We fighting against poor pet control and when 80% of your damage rotation is buggy or slow, the numbers are going to show that. Where we really shine is in mythic+ because there’s usually very little movement and a lot of opportunity for our pets to stand still and beast cleave.
They’ve made obvious attempts to mitigate this by doing things like increasing cobra shot damage. That’s totally fair. But I think more effort can be made to tweak the pet pathing and work on the issue of Hati entirely in order to really start addressing the class’ weakness.
And I think that about wraps it up for part one. In the next part I’ll get a little more into the situation with beast mastery’s abilities and gearing as well as touch on PVP a bit. All this provided my attention span for this lasts. If you stuck with me and read through this, thank you. If you didn’t, leave a comment and raise your hand.